Football: Egbri wonderstrike seals victory for Hawks

Isthmian South Central

Harlow Town 4 v 3 Waltham Abbey

Showstopper: Egbri wonderstrike seals victory for Hawks

HARLOW Town FC are up to fifth in the table, after winning 4-3 at home in the league for the second time running. A late winner from Terrell Egbri sealed the three points in a game where they were behind twice.

Tayo Oyebola got the bank holiday bonanza underway in the 18th minute, but Harlow made hard work of it from there on, goals from Billy Holland (28) and Aron Gordon (40) seeing Waltham Abbey leading at half-time.

Christian Adu Gyamfi got his first ever league goal for Harlow in the 51st minute to even things up, but Nathan Koranteng looked to have won the game in the 67th minute, finishing coolly past former team-mate Josh Bexon.

But Harlow weren’t to be defeated, a tap-in from Matthew Rush (83′) and a spectacular effort from young Egbri at the death sending the visitors back home pointless.

Despite their being four changes from Saturday’s FA Cup game, Harlow started the game like a team very familiar to eachother. There was some organised defending early on and intricate passing play. Such ambition created an opportunity in the 14th minute, Oyebola running onto a volley and touch wide from Ozzy Adeniji. The forward’s through ball to Egbri, who was just bursting into the box, was perfect, but Jack Daveney slid in well to deny the winger a shot.

Despite the attempts to keep it on the floor, Yannick Kissi couldn’t resist a cross in the 18th minute, after collecting the ball from Adeniji. The cross was slightly higher than Oyebola would’ve wanted it to be, but the modestly sized winger rose incredibly, and planted a perfect looping header past Curtis Jackson. The goal was impressive, but the acrobatic backflip celebration even more so. Most importantly, The Hawks had a deserved one-goal lead.

Waltham Abbey’s teamsheet had the familiar names of Nathan Koranteng and Charlie Edwards on, and it was the two ex-Hawks who had the crowd nervous on 20 minutes, the latter providing a delightful through ball. Koranteng looked ready to attempt a chip over Josh Bexon, but the offside flag came to Harlow’s rescue.

The visitors hadn’t had a sniff of goal otherwise, which is why Billy Holland probably couldn’t believe his luck in the 28th minute, rising up unmarked to plant a simple header home from five yards. Mark Twusami provided the set piece delivery for the goal, after he was fouled protecting the ball on the left hand side of the pitch.

Both teams exchanged shots over the next ten minutes, Oyebola frustrated at himself for a tame effort from ten yards, while Leonne McKenzie curled low but straight into Bexon after winning possession off of Oliver Gnandi. Adeniji went close with a spontaneous outside-of-the-boot volley, and would’ve scored had he been on target, Jackson astray from his goal.

The good pace continued, and speaking of pace, Egbri created space on the right hand side after backtracking smartly down the left in possession. His sprayed ball was collected by Sam Evans, a strong touch setting him up for a hard cross. Adeniji anticipated the pace well, but couldn’t get the solid connection he wanted, his header narrowly clearing the bar.

With five minutes to go until half-time, Aron Gordon collected possession in Harlow’s half, and went on the offence. He evaded a few simple tackles, leaving Evans and Elwin Lartey in their wake, before shuffling across the edge of the penalty area and curling it powerfully into the bottom right corner. A frustrating goal to concede.

As it often goes in football, the visitors were only in front due to the taking of their chances, rather than the number created. But Harlow had one last shot at equalising before the interval, Egbri winning a free kick after confidently spinning Twumasi out on the left. His cross in was cleared high by Edwards, and Syrus Gordon’s attempt at a blockbuster volley ended up on Elizabeth Way.

Perhaps unjustly, Harlow went in to the tunnel behind.

HALF-TIME: Harlow Town 1 – 2 Waltham Abbey

It was no surprise, given Abbey’s 11 goals this season already, that they were keen to go for a third. Junior Appiah’s low cross in the 47th minute cannoned off of Gnandi, and fell to Gordon. No where near as clinical as his earlier effort, the striker was high and wide from just outside and the right-centre of the box.

Looking to stamp his place on the first team this season, Gyamfi harried down a ricocheted through ball, causing confusion between Waltham Abbey’s two centre-halves and Jackson. The youngster won the race between all four, rounded the keeper with a heavy touch, and kept his cool to roll the ball in from a tight angle.

That 50th minute goal signalled a momentum change in the game, and one player on a hot streak was Egbri, who’s confidence was making up for what he lacks in size. He was the centre of attention for the next few passages of play, and after some initially hesitant play, the young winner bit the bullet on 59 minutes, forcing a retreating punching save from Jackson. Egbri took the corner, which evaded the keeper, but also the head of Adeniji.

Perhaps it just wasn’t Harlow’s day, as Waltham Abbey hadn’t been their electric selves, but were still in the game courtesy of Harlow mistakes. And there was another one in the 68th minute, albeit extremely unfortunate, as a Gnandi clearance bounced heavily off of the shin of Koranteng, then his toe, which set him up perfectly. The winger carried the ball forward, Gnandi in pursuit, and finished coolly round Bexon to regain the visitors’ lead.

Still riding their luck, Daveney’s heroic clearance of the line denied Adeniji of a 74th minute equaliser, the striker profiting from an awkward bounce inside the box, before going round Jackson, but seeing his shooting range decreased by the pressure of Twumasi.

Jackson, who had been impressive on the day, made a hash of a simple clearance inside his six-yard box on 80 minutes, but was let off the hook, the awkwardly bouncing ball just not falling for substitute Matt Rush or Oyebola. Then, straight down the other end, a clearance fell perfectly to Gordon inside the box, but pressure from Evans meant he couldn’t get a shot off. Gordon then left the field after, pointing to a tight calf.

Then, with things seeming like they just weren’t going to happen, Adeniji demanded a ball over the top, having caught Daveney asleep. He got just that from Gordon, the ball perfect for putting Jackson in two minds. Jackson came out, and just about lost the race near the by-line, although Adeniji still had work to do. His cut back was inch-perfect, and Rush was grateful to head into an open net.

Waltham Abbey almost responded perfectly, Rob Clark forcing a brilliant save from Bexon at a free kick, just before five minutes of added time were announced.

It was here when Harlow needed a big moment from an individual, especially given the form of Jackson in goal. And it was Terrell Egbri, who had been extremely unlucky not to score or assist today, who had a go in the 91st minute. But no one had expected him to hit it so well, his 30 yard effort dipping and swerving accurately, before sending the McCullochs Arena into ecstasy. Jackson had been beat, Egbri was now off the mark, and three points had been surely wrapped up.

The excitement almost masked
the sending off of Daveney, who saw red moments later for an over-zealous challenge on Rush.

Admittedly, there were some frustrating errors today, that do need to be eradicated, but Danny Chapman’s outfit no longer look like a team often down and out. Harlow’s rebuilding project certainly took a step in the right direction…

FULL-TIME: Harlow Town 4 – 3 Waltham Abbey

The Hawks will look to pick up three more points this Saturday, when they play away at Staines. Kick off is at 3PM.

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