Football: Harlow put four past Basildon (and look to big match on Saturday)

Football / Fri 24th Nov 2023 at 05:33pm

Basildon 0 v 4 Harlow Town

Report by Logan Young

HAVING beaten our new ground sharers NW London in the League Challenge Cup back in October, a draw against Basildon Town in the next round always remained an interesting prospect. After drawing 0-0 with Basildon Town back in August in a game that left a lot to be desired, it was difficult to predict how proceedings would go last night, but it has to be said that the performance was nothing short of fantastic, in which each and every player worked their socks off – setting the standard for how we should perform every game.

In a game full of positives, we received positive injury news on Raheem Gray, who regained his position in the starting XI earlier than expected, after some time on the sidelines. Korede Da Silva retained his spot after his first goal for the club vs Brimsdown away. Tom Jelliman returned after serving his suspension, and Bobby Kirby was handed another start by Chapman. Ashton Wilkins also returned, being named on the bench, with Toby Church joining him in line for his official first-team debut.

Basildon Town are a side that sit 17th in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division South, with mixed results so far this season.

From the very first whistle, it was clear that Harlow had a point to prove, having not played on Saturday after our league fixture against Southend Manor was postponed. The energy was immense, with Ishaq and Raheem leading a high press that suffocated the Basildon back line. The first of the chances came for Ishaq Ameen, who used his strength to get ahead of the home defence shrugging off two players effortlessly, before his shot went just wide. Just minutes later, Ishaq fired one heading straight for the top corner, but a magnificent stop from the Basildon goalkeeper kept the score level.

After a number of Harlow chances headed over from corners, courtesy of James Folkes, another major chance fell for the Hawks from Raheem Gray, who headed Ishaq’s pinpoint cross just over the bar. A few chances from Ruben Santos and Arley Barker that didn’t find the net made us question whether we would score, but the chance did come when Korede Da Silva left the Basildon number 14 for dead, giving him no choice but to commit the foul in the box, penalty given.

Alex Luque stepped up, having tucked his penalty away nicely against Hullbridge in the FA Vase shootout, but had not been given the responsibility on any other occasion this season, with us having missed a number of penalties. However, on this occasion, to the delight of the supporters behind the goal, Aldini Luque smashed it down the middle, giving the keeper no chance and giving Harlow a well-deserved advantage.

In a matter of four minutes, Ishaq beautifully flicked it into Bobby Kirby, and one-on-one with the keeper, “Usain Bob” produced one of the most composed half-volleys we’ve seen in a long time, marking his first ever goal as a senior player, and he was rightfully hit with a storm of players rushing to celebrate with him; an incredible moment for the lad, who just turned 17.

In another matter of four minutes, we witnessed what has to be a goal of the season nominee: the high-press paid off again, with Raheem Gray robbing Basildon’s number 2 of the ball and nicely laying it off for Arley Barker who whipped it in. The Basildon clearance fell perfectly for Ruben Santos to take a touch and smack it on the half-volley. What a strike it was. The fans were lost for words as Santos’ strike flew into the back of the net, with so much power no keeper could’ve saved it, and the lead was doubled.

It had been a great first-half performance, with each goal perfectly accentuating the quality of our side. The second half was similar to the first – not one player took their foot off the pedal as we continued to dominate.

Apart from general passing being solid, we worked the ball up the pitch well with James Folkes finding Korede Da Silva, who couldn’t be stopped and pulled it back for Ishaq, who’s effort was cleared off the line.

James Pellin had to act on a few occasions in the game, tipping one effort wide and stopping another that was blasted at him.

Harlow’s final goal of the game came from a magical cross from Alex Luque that perfectly found Raheem Gray, who directed it into the goal with a great header, giving the Basildon keeper no chance of saving it.

That marked our final major chance of the game, and it was a great performance all-round, that sees us progress into the next round against Haverhill Rovers. Our focus now shifts to Satruday’s massive game at home to Clapton Community.

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