Football: Poor Harlow fall into relegation zone

Dominant Whitehawk Dump Harlow Into Relegation Zone
By Callum Hibberd

A lacklustre performance saw Harlow drop into the relegation zone, with two goals from substitute Connor Tighe in the 70th and 74th minutes compounding a disappointing afternoon for Danny Chapman’s ‘Hawks’.

Whitehawk were extremely wasteful in the first half, and could’ve been two or three up at half-time.

The floodgates opened in the second 45 though, first through Nathaniel Pinney on 62 minutes, and then a quickfire double from substitute and familiar-foe Connor Tighe

Harlow now sit in 20th, two points off, but with a game in hand over Whitehawk, who occupy the final safety position.

Both teams came into the game off the back of extremely contrasting results, and it was the visiting ‘Hawks’ who started the game better. It was a cross, from Lucas Rodrigues, which nearly resulted in the first goal, and a header from Nathaniel Pinney, that should’ve gone in given the seven-yard range he attempted from. The warning signs were there though, particularly for Yannick Kissi, who was slow to clear, allowing Rodrigues the cross.

Harlow, who so far have a good home record in 2019, went down the other end and should’ve scored. Fabion Simms was strong in midfield and gave it to Tom Hitchcock. He then took one look up and found Matthew Foy with a short yet precise through ball, but the young forward misjudged his position directly in front of the goal, and curled way wide, as if shooting from an angle.

Rodrigues, who had been a thorn in Harlow’s side from the off, was then fouled in the 19th minute just outside the box by Taylor Hastings. Pinney stepped up, eager to add to the brace he scored four days ago. Many thought he had, as his low curling free kick nestled softly on the wrong side of the netting.

Whitehawk fans wouldn’t have been crazy to start getting frustrated at their forward line, Pinney dragged himself away from Hastings, receiving a through ball from John Paul Kissock. The striker took a few touches, but upon aiming for Josh Bexon’s near right corner from just inside the box, blasted wide.

Rodrigues was at it again in the 23rd minute. After holding possession outside Harlow’s box for a minute or two, Whitehawk spread it wide to the number 7. His cross from the right was accurate, cutting out numerous players and falling to Sinn’Kaye Christie at the left post. However, pressure from Paul Rodgers was enough, the fit-again right back heroically preventing Christie getting a touch.

The visitors were not only showing pace and strength, but craft too. Pinney, who looked set to shoot again at a favourable free kick, tapped it across to Duane Ofori-Acheampong, who didn’t hesitate in putting the ball back in the mixer, but his team mates didn’t match the effort.

Danny Chapman’s team needed to get themselves back on top, and a lightning quick counter attack from Emile Acquah and Foy almost did so, but the latter shot weakly when one-on-one with Whitehawk ‘stopper Melvin Minter.

If you weren’t a Whitehawk or Harlow fan, the game was fairly enjoyable so far. The game even had outrageous showings of skill from defenders, centre-half Henry Muggeridge narrowly wide from about 25 yards.

With four minutes to go until half time, Ky Marsh-Brown and Pinney exchanged crosses either side of the box. On the fourth attempt, Pinney bought it down on the left, turned and looked to dink it into the top right corner. The shot wasn’t quite powerful enough, but Ofori-Acheampong was following it up. Yet again though, Rodgers showed good aerial prowess to prevent Whitehawk nodding it in.

Being kind, it was a miracle Whitehawk hadn’t scored this half. Even more of a surprise was Foy not scoring down the other end in the 43rd minute, shooting into the outstretched leg of Minter after stealing the ball from Muggeridge, who let the ball bounce one too many times following a clearance.

HALF-TIME: Harlow Town 0 – 0 Whitehawk

After such a dire display in the first half, Harlow almost made the perfect start to the second period. Drew Richardson powered wide after receiving it in the middle, and took the only option of crossing the ball in. Rodgers was a few metres off, so could only
attempt a backheel volley, but was only agonisingly wide of the left post.

Rodrigues, who looked just as sharp as he did in the first half, engineered himself into a good position in the 50th minute, well placed to receive a precise curling cross from Muggeridge. Bexon could only watch on, but fortunately for him, the winger’s off-balanced header dribbled trickled wide of the right post.

Whitehawk came again though, right-back Fintan Walsh surging down his flank. He took one look up, cutting it back to the edge of the box. A lighter touch from Ofori-Acheampong would’ve allowed him more time and space to shoot, but Rodgers used the split second to get across and make a heavy block.

Kissi was feeling the pressure from Rodrigues, and his weak clearance of a cross from the winger fell to Marsh-Brown, but his outside of the boot effort was narrowly over the bar, courtesy of a deflection. Harlow countered from the corner, Muggeridge picking up a yellow on the halfway line to stop a rampant Acquah.

A big decision then arrived for referee Craig Barnett in the 58th minute. Aaron Goode stole the ball off of Foy just inside of his own box, but failed to get any real substance behind the clearance. Simms then slid in to intercept, and caught Rodrigues. Some Whitehawk fans shouted for a sending off, but Harlow’s stalwart captain only saw a yellow, the tackle mistimed but also making fair contact with the ball.

Rodrigues brushed off the pain though, receiving the ball from Kissock on the touchline about 40 yards out. The winger went off on a mazy dribble, seeing off Kissi in the process. At the by-line, he took one look up, and put the ball on a plate for Pinney, who finished easily from eight yards out. An hour on the clock, and Whitehawk were climbing out of the relegation zone, at their opponent’s expense!

Harlow didn’t really threaten after conceding, even with the introduction of Reece Price-Placid. A long ball over the top should’ve been dealt with routinely by Rodgers, but out of character with his performance so far, he hesitated, and ended up trying to head it back to Bexon. Connor Tighe, who had just come on for Duane Ofori-Acheampong, capitalised on the softness of the pass well, lobbing it over the keeper to double his team’s lead.

Clearly in the mood, Tighe made a poor second half for Harlow even more miserable, in impressive circumstances. From about 35 yards out, and on the bounce, Tighe had a shot at goal. The shot dipped as quickly as it rose, just about beating Bexon to give Whitehawk a 3-0 lead, and Tighe his fourth goal in three games against Harlow.

Whitehawk finally took a defensive stance, inviting some waves of Harlow play. Price-Placid almost scored in the 75th minute, heading a pinpoint cross from Rodgers wide from close range, but that aside, the home side were woefully short of ideas, and succumbed to another heavy defeat.

FULL-TIME: Harlow Town 0 – 3 Whitehawk

The boys will have a tough task making up for the ground lost today, travelling to Brightlingsea (2nd March) and Carshalton (4th March), before hosting Kingstonian on the 9th.

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