Football: Harlow let two goal lead slip to end year on low point

Bostik Premier

Harlow Town 2 v 4 AFC Hornchurch

By Callum Hibberd

HARLOW ended 2018 on a disappointing note, surrendering a two-goal lead to fellow basement side AFC Hornchurch.

Goals from Emile Acquah and Matt Foy had Harlow poised to go down the tunnel two up.

However, errors from Josh Bexon and Yannick Kissi allowed Sean Marks (45+1’) and Lee Porter (61’) to bring the game level.

Sean Marks scored two further goals (64’ and 77’) to cap off the result and bring The Urchins more points away from the relegation zone, although they remain in 19th place.

The result sees Harlow drop one place to 21st, now four points from safety, and with less games left to play.

There was pressure as early as the third minute when Callum Chafer spilled an ordinary cross from Harlow. Matt Foy tried to profit, but he was beaten by Jay Porter to the ball. Emile Acquah was then almost in a minute later when a long ball from Drew Richardson fell kindly, but Chafer was more assured this time.

Although they started the game well, The Hawks needed to be wary of George Saunders, who managed to fire in a few promising crosses during the first ten minutes.

But it was Harlow’s left winger who should’ve had the first contribution to the game. Foy raced down the touchline and put in a low lofted ball to Tom Hitchcock, who on the half-volley, couldn’t get solid power behind the ball from about nine yards out.

Hitchcock and Foy linked up again in the 11th minute. Hitchcock received the ball from Rodgers and dazzled past left-back Porter into the box, his cut back for Foy wasn’t the most accurate, but the young striker still got a shot off, and would’ve arguably been disappointed at how high over his effort was.

With the game ebbing and flowing, Lewwis Spence passed it short to Sean Marks in the 13th minute, the striker cleverly left it, allowing Alex Bentley to cross in from the right. He did so, accurately finding the feet of Lee Prescott, who should’ve given his team the lead, but somehow mishit it from close range, giving Josh Bexon an easy save.

So far impressive, Nathan Koranteng ventured into the box not long after, letting Drew Richardson take the ball off him. The 17-year old’s powerful shot was blocked by Bentley, and the youngster then shot way over on the rebound.

Hornchurch, who were winless in five away games, were being reduced to shots from range, with George Purcell coming close in the 25th minute.

Saunders was a persistent threat down the left flank for the visitors, and won a corner 29 minutes in. It came to nothing, and Harlow retained possession well. Moving gradually down the pitch, Fabion Simms found Acquah just on the right edge of the box. Some may have thought Acquah took too long, but he eventually teed up Richardson well, who’s low shot from outside the box just crept wide.

Down the left again, Hornchurch worked the ball well, this time to Prescott. His cross found Spence, but his effort from range was driven high and wide.

For all of Hornchurch’s attempts at silky football, Bexon took a goal kick which eventually resulted in a goal. Koranteng jumped high to flick it on, and Acquah won the duel between himself, Kenzer Lee and Chafer to the ball, the striker then chipping the ball in to give his team the lead.

Things got even better in the 41st minute for Danny Chapman’s team. Having not been involved three minutes earlier, Foy keenly demanded the ball from about ten yards out from Hitchcock, and when he got it, he tidily slotted into the bottom left, maintaining Harlow’s goalscoring run at home, and putting the Hawks two goals to the good.

It should’ve been three on the stroke of half time! Koranteng chased down a long goal kick towards the corner flag, before coming back in and seeing off Bentley. His low ball to Acquah was exactly what the striker would’ve wanted, but he dragged his shot wide.

Just as two minutes of added time were announced, Jamie Hursit took a simple free kick from the left. What looked like a routine claim for Bexon wasn’t to be, the Southend loanee spilling the ball into the path of Marks, gift wrapping him a 10th goal of the season.

HALF-TIME: Harlow Town 2 – 1 AFC Hornchurch

The home side started the second half brightly, Fabion Simms spraying a pass wide to Foy in the 48th minute. The pass wasn’t accurate, but Foy worked hard to win it off Porter. He then took the ball down the left by-line, finding Hitchcock just inside the box, but the in-form forward missed another chance at goal.

With the second half slowly rising in tempo, Spence booted it wide to Purcell. He ignored the overlapping run of Porter and fizzed it in low across the six-yard box. Bexon and Hastings both took risks in leaving it, but were proved correct, as the ball just about went for a goal kick.

Harlow were drawing fouls and looking to play positively at every opportunity but hadn’t been the most convincing since they went 2-0 up. However, they won a corner in the 62nd minute when Chafer spilled a cross. The corner was floated in nicely, and Acquah was just short of what would’ve been a dangerous header.

The game continued in its end to end manner, with Hornchurch attempting lots of crosses from either side. This paid off in the 61st minute, when a cross from Marks was headed across the box by Yannick Kissi, after he had miscommunicated with Bexon. It was opposing left-back Porter who took advantage, heading into an empty net to equalise.

Hornchurch completed the turnaround three minutes later. Saunders and Porter linked up down the left, with the former putting in an emphatic cross, which was met with as much power by Marks, nestling into the roof of the net. Within three minutes, the state of the game, and the league’s relegation battle, had been flipped on its head.

Momentum had clearly reared its ugly head, as Hornchurch continued to assert their dominance, while Harlow were making simple errors. Saunders yet again showed impressive footwork in the 77th minute, dazzling past Kissi and Hastings. He looked up for a second and had already decided on Marks. The ball was a pinpoint one, giving Marks the perfect chance to complete his hat trick, which he calmly took.

Bexon then had to prevent it from becoming five, impressively parrying away a strong shot from George Purcell. This trend continued at a worrying rate but substitutes Charlie Stimson and Ronnie and George Winn couldn’t increase the score.

Harlow had a late penalty shout when Chafer jostled with Foy in the box, but it wasn’t given, consigning Harlow to a disappointing 4-2 loss.

FULL-TIME: Harlow Town 2 – 4 AFC Hornchurch

The Hawks continue the campaign next Saturday at Corinthian-Casuals, before hosting Haringey a week later.

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