Football: Harlow Town’s slump in form continues

Football / Sun 15th Oct 2023 at 07:25am

Thurlow Nunn League South

Harlow Town 1 v 2 Benfleet

By Logan Young

IT was yet another game full of frustration for the Hawks, being defeated for the second game in a row – (and now no wins in four in the league) this time at the hands of Benfleet – a team with three games in hand going into the game.

It was a changed starting 11 for Danny Chapman’s side, with Gavin Cockman returning from suspension and Arley Barker starting in midfield. Ashton Wilkins came in at left-back for an injured Bobby Kirby, and Ruben Santos was back and on the bench. New signing Raheem Gray was named on the bench; a player signed from Frenford earlier this week.

It was a slow start to the game for both sides, constantly being halted by the referee. The first real action was when Ashton Wilkins was booked for time wasting in the 14th minute, despite the game being 0-0 and him having a throw in.

Benfleet put their best foot forward and had an early chance saved magnificently by James Pellin, they seemed destined to score but the Harlow keeper pulled off heroics. Harlow then won a corner, but saw the header glance over the bar.

The reds were given a massive setback after Ashton Wilkins slid in with a rash challenge, and as a result was shown a second yellow and dismissed from the game. Harlow were down to 10.

The Hawks kept their heads held high and continued to be the team on top, defending well and denying Benfleet any major chances, but at half-time, neither side had found the net. 

There was a lack of clear-cut chances all game for either side; Harlow kept pushing for a goal to open scoring, with Gavin Cockman missing two half-chances. The fans were lost for words after the ball flashed across the face of goal and Arley Barker was just inches from scoring, hitting the post with the goal gaping. Straight after, Roman Percil came close with a shot.

Mid-way through the second half. Chapman decided it was the right time to introduce Raheem Gray, and he certainly gave the team a boost, and his energy rubbed off on all of the other reds, as Harlow kept pushing.

Unfortunately though, the Harlow efforts came to nothing and it was Benfleet who found the net first. It had taken 82 minutes but with one of their first chances of the game, Benfleet capitalised. 

Harlow were still on top in terms of possession and controlling the play, but it mattered not as Benfleet found the net for a second time and killed the game well and truly. 

All 391 fans felt massively hard-done by, as a result in which the referee had stolen the show – and his decision to send off Ashton Wilkins reduced their chances – was upon them.

Gavin Cockman managed to reduce the deficit, making it 1-2 with a great header, but much like the Dunmow game, it was “too little too late” and Benfleet had won at the Pardus Wealth Stadium.

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