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Football: Hawks let the Gulls off the hook

Football / Tue 3rd Jan 2017 at 12:02pm

Ryman Premier

Harlow Town 2 v 2 Canvey Island

By Luke Henry

HARLOW kicked off 2017 in front of their home crowd as they welcomed Canvey Island to the Harlow Arena looking for a tenth victory out of twelve games at home. The visitors arrived on a back of a 1-1 draw against AFC Sudbury after a disappointing run of form left them winless since the end of November and languishing at the bottom of the table prior to kick off.

The opening exchanges represented a scrappy affair and a cagey opening with both teams trying to assert authority early on, however no team could get a major foothold of possession and the game became a slow burner. Harlow were the first to conjure up a couple of meaningful chances in quick succession on 10 Minutes. From a cleared corner, Mario Noto had another bite of the cherry and curled in a lovely cross straight onto the head of Bamba Ngamb, whose header came crashing off the bar, a couple of inches lower and that would of been 1-0.

Immediately after came a controversial decision by Referee Daniel Lock, who deemed that Khale Da Costa had unfairly knocked the ball out of Keeper Lewis Moore’s hands before putting the ball into the empty net. There didn’t look too much wrong with the incident and Da Costa had every right to go for it, a very dubious decision from the referee. Ngamb then went close again on 13 minutes, latching onto a loose back pass from the Canvey Island defence, however he couldn’t get enough trajectory and power in the shot, and his tame effort was kept out by Moore.

Harlow were now starting to ask some questions of the Canvey Island defence during the early proceedings. After that little spell from Harlow, the game was quite an even encounter and still produced a slow burner. The flow of the game was disrupted by Needless fouls, and both teams were giving possession away very cheaply, especially in the final third with the final ball constantly breaking down for both teams. That pattern stayed until the 38th Minute when Harlow took the lead out of nothing. A simple long punt down the field by Goalkeeper David Hughes fell perfectly for striker Alex Read who beat defender Jamal Howlett- Mundle for pace and poked the ball past the onrushing Moore to give Harlow first blood. That goal had finally seemed to have sparked the game into life, moments later, George Sykes’s bullet header drew a brilliant one handed reflex save from David Hughes with the keeper readjusting himself to dive to his right hand side which was further cleared to safety by Layne Eadie, before the full back himself was next to show his attacking qualities, testing Moore with a cross come shot that had called the Canvey Keeper into action who remained equal to the task.

Ngamb had another chance and this time, he managed to beat Moore after latching onto a lofted ball over the top and managed to hook it over the onrushing keeper’s head, however the intervention of full back Ashley Dumas read the situation perfectly was on hand to prevent it crossing the line. Right on half-time it was 2-0 and this time there was nothing wrong about Da Costa’s finish. Lovely, intricate build up play from Harlow on the edge of the Area involving goal scorer Alex Read ended with Mario Noto producing a perfectly weighted reverse ball into the path of Da Costa, who had beaten the offside trap and didn’t have to break stride. With one touch to set himself, the winger was coolness personified to curl the ball into the far corner out of the reach of the desperate Moore. Half time and Harlow went in with a commanding 2-0 lead.

The second half had started and some of the supporters barely had time to sit in their seats when they noticed that Canvey Island had already brought one back. A couple of ricochets fell lovely for George Sykes who hammered the ball home into the roof of the net from the edge of the box, game was well and truly on. Since the goal, all the play was now in the Harlow half, who hadn’t turned up for the second half and Canvey were pushing for the equaliser. They came so close to an immediate equaliser as number 10 Frankie Merryfield was inches away with a near post flick from a corner that was delivered by the wicked left foot of substitute Harrison Chatting, which crept wide of the post.

They didn’t have wait much longer as they equalised eight minutes into the second half on 53 Minutes, as midfielder Ryan Blackman, who had been very impressive all game hit an absolute bullet of a shot that left Hughes firmly rooted to the spot. A sublime piece of skill saw him catch the ball sweetly on the half volley from the edge of the box and his rasping drive flew into the top corner, the sheer pace and velocity on the strike was for all to see. A fantastic equaliser and this game was back at square one, with Canvey with their tails up. This game was now developing into some spectacle, with the tempo and pace much quicker as both teams went looking for that elusive goal to put them in front. As the half wore on, the early onslaught by Canvey Island had somewhat relaxed slightly and the pace of the game had died down.

Goalmouth action was again at a premium and the game retreated back to a battle for possession. Canvey Island looked much more of a threat going forward thanks to that double change at half time, with Harrison Chatting and Martin Tuohy both adding a bit more potency to the Canvey Island attack. Even though both teams were going in search for a winner in what was an end to end affair, chances were still sporadic, with both teams looking out of ideas and seeming satisfied with a point at least. Jared Small couldn’t keep his shot down in the area on 77 minutes and Martin Tuohy in the closing moments couldn’t keep his shot down and the ball sailed harmlessly wild and over. George Sykes could’ve won the game in the dying moments but couldn’t keep his shot down but also could of played in Martin Tuohy who had made a clever run into the box and seemed the better option.

Full time and it finished 2-2. A disappointing half for Harlow, who never really got going in the second half saw them surrender a two goal lead within eight minutes of the start of the second half, but a spirited comeback by Canvey Island alongside with some inspired substitutions by manager Danny Heale at half-time earned them a deserved point at the Harlow Arena to kick start 2017 with a good point, at a place where away teams find it hard to pick anything at the Arena due to Harlow’s strong home form.

Both teams now turn their attention to Saturday’s fixtures, where Harlow are away to Wingate and Finchley while Canvey Island entertain Dulwich Hamlet in their first game at home of the new year.

Attendance: 307

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