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Football: Harlow recover from two goals down to take three points

Football / Mon 18th Dec 2023 at 07:53am

Thurlow Nunn League South

Harlow Town 4 v 2 Enfield Borough

HARLOW Town recovered from being two goals down to claim three vital points at the Pardus Wealth Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Report by Logan Young

With the prospect of an exciting Christmas period ahead for the Hawks, a game against Enfield Borough at home in the league was undoubtedly a “must-win” game. The Thurlow Nunn First Division South sees its race for promotion open wider than ever, with seemingly 7 or so clubs in the mix to gain promotion to Step 5. However, having suffered a disastrous defeat to St Margaretsbury last time out, we simply could not afford to drop points to 4th from bottom Enfield Borough. 

Our previous game was a 4-1 win away to Haverhill Rovers in the League Challenge Cup, and it was a game that encapsulated the quality that we have, playing some of the best football we’d seen all season (which is becoming a trend for us in that competition). The biggest question was whether we could carry that form over to the league, the competition that must take priority if we are to gain promotion in April. 

Manager Danny Chapman opted for just one change from our Haverhill victory, with Alfie Attrill coming out of the team, making way for a Tom Jelliman return. 

It was a turbulent start for the Hawks, we went out second best and it was clear for all to see, with the midfield battle being won by Enfield Borough. Having said that, the first opportunity of the game came for the reds, as Jimmy Nottage crossed it into the box and Raheem Gray failed to direct his header goalwards. Just moments later, Borough hit a long ball down the throat of our defence, but a complete miscommunication meant that James Pellin was forced to smack it away, but with Wilberforce Ocran right in front of him, he cleared it straight into him, and the Enfield Borough number 9 was left with an easy finish to give them the lead after just 8 minutes.

Although we were still struggling to find our feet, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. In fact, we found the back of the net just 6 minutes later, as Junior Dadson found himself on the end of Tom Jelliman’s free kick, however the linesman’s flag was raised and we remained 0-1 down. Had the goal been given, it would’ve meant that Jelliman had hit double figures for assists this season.

Nevertheless, we kept sending men forward and looking for opportunities. A huge opportunity fell for Jack Zielinski, a man in great form netting twice against Haverhill. It wasn’t meant to be on that occasion though as he headed it wide with the goal gaping. 

Enfield Borough’s intentions had become clear. They’re fighting relegation and leading against title challengers, of course they were going to try and shut up shop. After 15 minutes of nothing happening, and Borough’s physio getting more minutes than the players, Enfield had a good passage of play that led to them being one-on-one with James Pellin. Fortunately for us, their shooting boots were not on, but the reality check was there that the away side could pounce at any time.

The time did come for Borough. Ten minutes later, Enfield played the ball straight through our midfield into Wilberforce Ocran, who used a lot of force to send Fabion Simms tumbling to the ground. In on goal, Ocran took his time before brushing it home and doubling the away advantage. Our promotion hopes felt like they were slipping away from us and the result of St Margaretsbury played once again in our minds. 

40 minutes in was the turning point of the game. In contrast to a non-existent Harlow side that we’d seen so far, we pushed forward and a marvellous through ball along the floor from Jimmy Nottage sent Jack Zielinski through on goal, and this time he did finish, whacking it at the keeper but finding the net. There was hope for Harlow Town, we were not finished yet.

Just on the brink of half-time, Ruben Santos drove into the box and was fouled right on the edge. With practically a long-range penalty, Jack Cousins curled the ball goalwards and Finn Rushton made a great save to deny Cousins an equaliser in the bottom right. From the corner afterwards, we so nearly found the net, with the ball being knocked all around the Enfield penalty box.

2 minutes into the added time, we kept pushing for the equaliser and finally found it. James Folkes sent a reasonably low cross into the area, where Raheem Gray jumped towards it and poked it past Rushton. What would have been remembered as an abysmal first half had been rescued by two late goals from Zielinski and Gray. 

The second half was certainly a much more positive performance from the Hawks, which was reflected by the final score at the end of the game. Enfield Borough had the first chance of the half with a shot that was saved comfortably by James Pellin, and it took 15 minutes for any real action to come in the half, with neither side creating any clear-cut chances.

Thankfully, it was the home side who took the advantage, with Jack Zielinski playing it across the box and being finished well by Fabion Simms.

Just seconds later, we saw an absolutely emphatic finish from Ruben Santos, that will certainly be a contender for goal of the month again. 

The final chance of the game came for Harlow when Alfie Attrill shot from outside the box. Rushton dived down and saved it, even though it was going wide. 

Overall, it was a game that could’ve been a catastrophe for Harlow, which would’ve seen us sink further down the table and out of the title race. But instead it was a crucial win that ensures we remain in the title race, with the huge boxing day game lurking over us. My personal man-of-the-match was Ishaq Ameen, who’s impact cannot be understated and his work-rate was clear to see from when he was substituted on, right up to the final whistle.

We now shift our attention to next Friday evening, when we go away to May & Baker in the league. It’s sure to be another action-packed game that we must win if we hope to challenge for the tite.

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