Football: Hawks’ Playoff Push Falters again in dramatic fashion!

Lifestyle / Wed 22nd Feb 2017 at 10:59am

Harlow Town FC 2 Vs 2 Folkestone Invicta FC


By Luke Henry

HARLOW welcomed Folkestone Invicta to the Harlow Arena on Tuesday evening, hoping to bounce back from their 1-0 away disappointment at Merstham, and get their faltering push for the play’s off back on track. They welcomed a Folkestone side who continued on their travels, following a 3-1 win against Canvey Island on Saturday afternoon. With the home side boasting the best home record in the league, the Hawks saw this as a vital opportunity to gain three points.

The game started with a fast tempo, with the home side first to answer some questions early on. Ibrahima Sonko’s header was cleared away by the defender Liam Friend, preventing it from testing keeper Tim Roberts after three minutes. It was a bright start from the Hawks, who had the lion share of the possession early on and were making their opponents drop very deep in the opening stages. Despite Harlow’s strong start, they were undone on nine minutes and were lucky not to be behind. Jordan Wright beat the offside trap following a corner that was cleared for his side. He won the ball in the penalty area forced out slightly on the right wing, of where he had three unmarked folkestone players all waiting for a tap in. The cross fell to Frankie Chappell, whose left foot first timed volley was smothered by goalkeeper David Hughes at point blank range, before pouncing on the loose ball. It was a massive chance gone for the visitors considering the early run of play, but a superb save nonetheless by Hughes ensuring the score remained goalless early on. The opening ten minutes in this one was beginning to shape up to become an end to end affair. The first goal of the game typified that on 16 minutes with a fantastic counter attack goal from Harlow. Tremendous work rate from Jared Small, tracking back to retrieve possession before sending a glorious ball down the right for the Alex Read, who had beaten the offside trap and darted towards the byline before crossing towards the onrushing Junior Dadson, who tapped home for close range. That was a great counter attacking finish, as Harlow moved defence to attack in 3 passes. It could’ve been two moments later, when the impressive Syrus Gordon, who put in a real shift in midfield, sent a rasping drive which flew slightly over the bar and wide. As the game wore on, chances become premium and Harlow were having the better of the midfield battle. Both teams have had had good spells of possession, but no chances as such as we approached the 30th minute mark. However a small warning for Harlow as Ian Draycott, who has 13 goals in this campaign, dragged a shot wide after latching onto a route one pass from captain Liam Field. That would of been a poor goal from Harlow’s perspective to concede, considering how comfortable they have looked after going in a goal in front. However, saying that the visitors were very much in this game, just haven’t portrayed much attacking intent so far, breaking down in the final third. The lead almost doubled on 36 minutes, after a prolonged attacking spell saw Craig Pope having a shot blocked, Fabion Simms was inches away from finding Jared Small in the box, before the latter’s ball was blazed over by the on rushing Junior Dadson looking to double his tally. Both flanks for Harlow were the danger for the visitors, this time it was from the left as Layne Eadie darted through two defenders, showing a clean pair of heels before firing a dangerous low cross into the mix, where keeper Tim Roberts was on hand to collect the ball. The first half was a tight encounter with Harlow comfortable, but the visitors not out of this one. The second goal was crucial.

The visitors came out of the blocks quickly in the opening stages of the second half, a lovely chipped ball from Draycott, who found a pocket of space on the edge of the box found midfielder Miles Cornwell, whose shot was poor and didn’t get the best connection trickling wide of the goal on 48 minutes. The away side were seeing the more of the ball in the opening 10 minutes of this period, and although getting into good positions after some sharp intricate passing, apart from the save earlier in the match, keeper David Hughes hasn’t been tested since. Harlow’s midfield three of Stan Muguo, Sryus Gordon and Fabion Simms had been very strong tonight and impressive, showing good work rate and edging the midfield battle. However the longer the game stayed 1-0, Folkestone were very much in this match. Ian Draycott dragged another shot wide on 65 Minutes after a neat knockdown by strike partner Joseph Taylor. On 66 minutes, in a blink of an eye, Harlow doubled their advantage. Alex Read picked up the ball some 25 yards out of goal and with nothing much on struck a speculative effort which beat the keeper and found the bottom corner. That was just what Harlow wanted, breathing space with 25 minutes left to play. It could have been well and truly over on 75 minutes, if Craig Pope kept his shot down after good wing play from Jared Small. Substitute Khale da Costa was inches away from scoring with his first touch, but he couldn’t get on the end of Syrus Gordon’s dangerous free kick. The visitors had somewhat looked bereft of ideas since going two goals down, and didn’t look like getting back in the game. However, on 88 minutes they did manage to half the deficit, after quality play from substitute Ashley Miller, weaving in and out the defenders tackles before pulling it back for fellow substitute Euan Sahadow to score with 2 minutes of the ninety to play and also four minutes of stoppage time to be added. There was still some more late drama to be witnessed at the Arena as into stoppage time, Folkestone drew back level out of nothing in a dramatic twist. Callum Davis the provider, teeing up Miles Cornwell who made amends from his earlier chance by bulleting a header into the roof of the net, and Harlow had blown a two goal lead right at the end.

And that was it, a hammer blow to the Hawks whose playoff hopes lie in the balance, two points dropped tonight despite being comfortable for large parts of the game. Credit to the visitors who showed great character to salvage a point which did seem unlikely, and these two teams both do battle again on saturday with Harlow out for revenge as the first part of the double header finished score draw.

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