Harrow Borough 3 Billericay Town 1
Harrow Borough showed there is life after Robin Shroot and a drubbing at the hands of their local rivals with a crucial, yet flattering victory which lifted them out of the Ryman Premier relegation zone up to 18th position.
There only looked like being one winner as Billericay laid siege to the hosts' goal in the first half yet a little bit of persistence, not to mention a slice of good fortune, turned the tide in Harrow's favour.
After skipper Wayne Walters had put into his own net Harrow sneaked back on level terms through Jonathan Constant's classy finish before goals from Lee Hall and the tireless Dewayne Clarke secured what was at one stage an unlikely victory.
"We were a bit ring rusty as we hadn't played for a while," said Harrow manager David Howell. "I said in the first half of the season that it was all about performances, whereas now it is a case of forget about the performances
- it is about results and knowing how to win matches.
"Games are about 90 minutes and this season we've played in ones we've dominated and not got our rewards for it. We should have got a lot more from the eight matches we've drawn and Saturday we went that step further.
"I thought if we could keep it tight it would open up in the last 15 minutes. We started very slowly, they had a little bit of a spell in the first half and fluffed a lot of chances. But it is a great win for us."
A freak injury to goalkeeper Andray Baptiste (see story below) meant a rare start for Gary Ross, who himself was suffering with a thigh strain. Howell was also missing Miles Jones (illness), Kurt Morlese (injured) and Kwasi Frempong, who was rested after the physical exertions of the midweek cup win over Godalming Town. Midfielder Bobby Highton returned having served a one match ban.
Harrow were still asleep during the opening exchanges at Earlsmead, although Simon Dahl showed he was at least alert after hacking a goal-bound effort off the line with Ross beaten.
Tim Cole then blazed an effort over the bar as the Harrow defence again stood static before home skipper Walters got a stern talking to by the referee after a poor challenge on Town captain, Jamie Dormer.
Things got worse for Walters five minutes later when he deflected in a fierce follow up shot from Dormer after Ross had initially produced a superb reflex save.
With the bit between their teeth Billericay piled forward only for Ross to deny Leon Hunter and their top scorer Billy Bricknell, a transfer target for Borough last season.
In rare forays of their own, Harrow went close through Highton and Hall and it was a case of third time lucky after 36 minutes. Constant, who has cut a forlorn figure on so many occasions this season, raced on to a through ball from Clarke down the left. He turned his marker inside out before placing the ball past Tony Tucker into the left corner of the net from an acute angle. The striker's momentum took him over the perimeter fence and into the terraces behind the goal, where he enjoyed a private moment of celebration before rejoining his awaiting throng of team-mates.
Bradley Woods-Garness then almost dampened Harrow's celebrations with a glorious jinking run minutes later, but his finish lacked the same finesse.
Dahl and McGonigle made way for Darren Campbell-Grimshaw and Gary Noel on the hour and the change almost backfired for Harrow, who had Danny Leech to thank with a last gasp clearance as Billericay probed once again.
Ross then got down low to deny Wayne Semanshia before Clarke raced up the other end, only to be denied by a superb goal-saving tackle by Steve Heffer.
Harrow were slowly but surely gaining a foothold in proceedings and their patience was rewarded with the lead after 65 minutes. The visitors failed to clear Constant's long throw and the ball bounced kindly to the waiting Hall 10 yards out, and he let fly with a crisp volley that flew past Tucker.
Billericay then fluffed two gilt-edged chances while the few other second half chances they did get on goal, Ross was equal to.
Clarke then wrapped up the points with 15 minutes left, chasing down an aimless Highton pass before robbing a defender and stroking the ball low across Tucker.
The imperious Ross frustrated Brick-nell again before Noel spurned two late chances to put the gloss on a hard fought victory.
Harrow Borough: Ross, Leech, Dahl (Campbell-Grimshaw, 59), Walters, Jinadu, Highton, Williams, McGonigle (Noel, 59), Clarke (Whitely, 90), Constant, Hall.