Football: Harlow Town lose just second game of the season in league
Football / Tue 26th Sep 2023 at 08:01am
By Logan Young
CAN you believe that we’re talking about Harlow Town vs Newbury Forest for the third time in a month? Well that indeed is the case. A trilogy of games begun in August when the boys in blue travelled to our home, the Pardus Wealth Stadium, and were destroyed 4-0 in their first meeting with us, exiting the FA Vase at their first possible opportunity. Similar things occurred when Newbury Forest visited us yet again for a second game but this time in the league; the Hawks hit 4 yet again, but let in 2 goals in the second half as Forest scoped a comeback. And a comeback they did get indeed, even if not in that game.
It was a sharp start for Newbury Forest, who moved the ball well initially and found Samraj Gil, who attempted to grab first blood for the blues, but instead was the first to hit the mud beside the goal – nowhere near James Pellin’s net.
A hungry, energetic Newbury Forest side faced us, pumped and excited for what would be their third game against us in a month. Fresh from their last 2 goals against us, Forest manager Leo Connolly believed that his squad had what it takes to defeat top of the league Harlow Town. The hope was solidified to the discontent of the travelling Harlow supporters.
On a positive note, club captain James Folkes had returned for his first game since he collapsed in the 33 degree heat after the second Newbury Forest game, and precautionary measures were taken to ensure that Folkesy was safe to play again.
Down the other end, Ruben Santos had an opportunity to bend one from a free kick just outside the box. He hit the target but Harrison Cole prevented the net from rippling at first palming it away. Unfortunately for him though, he simply parried it into the path of Junior Dadson who – with the goal gaping in front of him – smashed it in for his 97th goal for the club and opening scoring in Barkingside, an early Harlow lead.
However, Newbury Forest stuck to their game plan of running at the Harlow defence and doing everything in their power to supply Samraj Gil: it was inevitable that chances would fall for them and soon enough Gil found himself with a golden opportunity after the ball ricocheted off of James Folkes and into his path. If not for the sheer quality of James Pellin in goal, Newbury would’ve been level, but a great close-range save with his feet denied Newbury Forest.
Newbury Forest kept pushing and pushing, with a multitude of chances being squandered, including an open goal miss that was soon forgotten as the rapid Samraj Gil found himself in on goal again. This time, he was relentless and refused to be stopped. He sprinted past James Pellin, who rushed off his line early, left James Folkes for dead and tapped it past Alex Luque who was guarding the goal and the lead. On the brink of half-time, Harlow had been stung and the score was 1-1.
Early into the second half, an unfortunate slip from Alex Luque sent Samraj Gil through on goal once again. He unleashed a great finish to turn the game on its head for Newbury Forest – Harlow had a huge mountain to climb.
It wasn’t until late in the game that it seemed that mountain would be climbed by the reds. Tom Jelliman was gifted with a major opportunity to draw level but just missed with a volley over the bar and shortly after Samraj Gil was through on goal once again. James Pellin was forced into making his second major save of the game, and what a save it was; his heroics have not gone unnoticed thus far this campaign.
Incredibly late into the game, it begun to conclude as long throw after long throw from Gavin Cockman failed to provide opportunities – until he himself had a crack at goal that came very close but was deflected for a corner. Newbury Forest then went down the other end where only a defensive miracle could prevent Samraj Gil from killing the game, but a defensive miracle occurred.
Taylor Hastings then found himself in a similar position to Gavin Cockman when he almost scored, however his shot wasn’t quite as close and it proved to be the last chance for Harlow and Newbury Forest were finally victorious against the Hawks.
In the end, Newbury Forest deservedly came out on top and Chapman’s men had lost for just the second time this season, with two straight cup games ahead of them.
This report is not about the FA Vase game, mentioned in the headline