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Football: Harlow victorious in nine-goal thriller

Football / Sun 7th Jan 2024 at 09:08am

Photo by Kelsi O’Connor

Thurlow Nunn Division South

Burnham Ramblers 4 v 5 Harlow Town

Report by Logan Young

I COULDN’T quite believe what I had just watched after the final whistle blew and we came out winners 4-5 away from home. Last time we played Burnham Ramblers, it was an action-packed one sided game in which we were victorious 6-0. However, today it seemed as though we were dominating, but a number of errors at the back (for both sides) transformed the scoreline into a crazy one. Having said that, the game possessed attacking action from start-to-finish, and for the neutrals, it would’ve been a terrific watch.

We entered the game missing a number of key things, including players Tom Jelliman, captain James Folkes and Arley Barker, as well as manager Danny Chapman who had received three bookings and therefore had to serve a 1 match ground ban. Due to this, assistant manager Leon Antoine lead the dugout in his absence.

The game could not have started any better for the Hawks, going 0-3 up in just 16 minutes. The first goal came after Jack Zielinski, Bobby Kirby, and then Jack Zielinski again, came close. The third of which was a great header that deserved a goal from a Jack Cousins corner. It was a similar situation that ended with Harlow celebrating taking the lead: Ruben Santos swung a corner to the front-post and Oscar Jones dealt with it poorly, and before anyone could do anything Jack Zielinski appeared out of nowhere with a stunning overhead kick which left Ramblers’ keeper Luke Morton bemused and unable to keep the effort out. 

From a wonder-goal to a wonder-kid, we were flying in the opening 10 minutes. A simple but effective return ball from Bobby Kirby to Jack Zielinski left the 17-year-old in on goal after some magical movement from the rapid full-back, Morton had no chance as Bobby Kirby brushed the shot into the bottom-right corner – netting for the second time in his first-team career. 

After smashing home the bicycle kick, ‘JZ’ was thirsty for more, however unlike the first one, it wasn’t the strike that shocked us all – it was the incredible build-up play and clinical finish from the team. It all started when Zielinski robbed Jack Morris of possession. Raheem Gray ran onto the ball and back-heeled it to Korede Da Silva. The midfielder immediately back-heeled it and Zielinski was there with the finish that was required to make it 0-3.

As fast as the lead was expanding, it slightly deflated after a shove from Jack Zielinski was deemed enough to be a penalty for Burnham Ramblers. Karl Swansborough stepped up and sent James Pellin the wrong way, giving Burnham hope.

Harlow remained positive and looked to extend the lead, as Jack Cousins’ cross picked out Jack Zielinski perfectly, whose header brushed the post and soared just wide. We continued to be the outfit looking to go forward, and this was evident by the chances we created – one of which Bobby Kirby power-volleyed into someone behind the goal. The full-back then proceeded to hit the bar with an effort that had beaten the keeper, which would’ve made it 1-4. 

Despite all of our attacking scenarios, it was Burnham who struck again and it was Swansborough for the second time. Burnham hit us on the break and passed it well, but after Jimmy Nottage half-cleared it, the Ramblers striker hit a ‘flukey’ effort into the floor which bounced over James Pellin. The wide gap had almost been closed in a matter of 25 minutes. 

The Hawks’ quality prevailed though as a misplaced pass by a Burnham player meant Junior Dadson could have a run at goal. The winger struck one on his left, beating Morton and extending the lead to 2-4, which it was at the break.

The first chance of the second half came for us, as Jack Cousins hit a free-kick slightly over the bar, but the biggest opportunity not taken of the half was when Jack Zielinski managed to keep the ball in play and whip it goalwards, where Raheem Gray volleyed it into the bar. It would’ve been an awesome finish, had it hit the back of the net. A matter of seconds later, Junior Dadson whipped in a cross which was headed towards goal by Zielinski. Raheem Gray provided the finishing touch, making it 2-5 to the Hawk.

After this, we were lucky to not concede straight away as Swansborough narrowly missed the target, but Burnham did find the goal after scrappy defending meant they could tap it home. It was well and truly game on from a home perspective.

Burnham Ramblers kept hitting it forward and used their momentum to find yet another goal, after Alex Luque attempted to clear a shot and instead hit it into his own net. ‘Squeaky bum time’ had begun from Harlow. 

Late in the game, a conflict broke out between the two sides, with one of our players on the ground, leading to the dismissal of Gilseidi Marashi for Burnham Ramblers, leaving them a man down for the remainder of the game.

After a Burnham player got sin-binned and they were reduced to nine, Harlow held off the side well and as a result secured all three points to move up to 2nd place in the league.

It was a marvellous attacking showing from the away side, scoring 5 great goals and deservedly winning the game. Arguably, we could’ve scored double the number of goals that we did. However, a high number of defensive errors meant that we allowed Burnham to get back into the game, giving them the confidence to fight until the very last minute (which they did well). Young Bobby Kirby performed terrifically again, and caused an alarming threat down the left-hand side to the Burnham backline. Korede Da Silva was a creative mastermind again in midfield, and in my opinion has been central to our chance creation when on the pitch, alongside Cousins and Santos. 

There was one major standout player once again; Jack Zielinski. If I had to give out a man-of-the-match award it would certainly have gone to the striker. His energy is unstoppable and he caused real problems for the entire Burnham team, giving 100% right until the end. 

Overall, the game was an example of a lot of strengths and some weaknesses, and many of those weaknesses may fade once our full squad is back. The importance of the three points cannot be understated and we move onto our next game on Saturday 13th January, when we host Hackney Wick. We need as many of you as possible to be there to get behind the lads once again, as we look to push towards top spot.

https://fulltime.thefa.com/table.html?league=958158630&selectedSeason=51003048&selectedDivision=94370418&selectedCompetition=0&selectedFixtureGroupKey=1_382560511

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