Harrow 3 - 0 Dover Athletic
Ryman League Premier Division, Earlsmead, Saturday December 6 2008
Could it get any better than last Saturday’s 6-1 win against Horsham for Harrow Borough? Yes, it could. Harrow produced a brilliant team display to hammer the runaway leaders at Earlsmead on Saturday. Again, Robin Shroot will attract the headlines with another brace, again in front of Football League scouts, Derby and Dagenham among them this time, but the foundation of this win performance was Harrow’s best defensive performance of the season.
Gary Noel’s two-goal midweek debut had earned him a starting jersey, in front of Miles Jones who was on the bench. Wayne Walters replaced Lee Hall at right-back, and Andray Baptiste returned to goal.
Dover began with a shot by Pouton and a header by Grazioli, both off-target, but Harrow laid down their challenge with a 4th-minute opener. Dewayne Clarke challenged for Walters’ long throw, and a defender headed it out only to the edge of the box. Jamie Lawrence laid it to Shroot, in the inside-left position, and his shot crept past Whitehouse’s left-hand and found the corner of the net.
Stung, the visitors came back at Harrow. Some good home defending kept out an attack after Danny Murphy lost the ball, and Baptiste made a fine low save from Moore’s low cross. Tobi Jinadu then made an excellent block before Harrow carved out a great chance to double their lead. A fantastic crossfield pass from Shroot sent Clarke away. He rounded Whitehouse on the edge of the box and had his feet clipped. Had he gone down, it would have been a penalty and probably a red card for the keeper, but he stumbled and retained his footing. Pushed wide, he twisted to return the ball into the game, but angled it too much and the ball crept past the far post.
Baptiste then made another save, while Whitehouse charged from his goal to head clear from the advancing Noel. Baptiste was having a very confident display, and next made an audacious one-handed catch from a ball that seemed to be dropping over him. Ball headed wide for Dover, and Baptiste made another save, low down, after Murphy was beaten on the Harrow left.
In the 41st minute, Harrow did double their lead. Jinadu cleared the ball downfield and, with the visiting defence looking square, Noel ran on to the ball. Whitehouse charged out of his penalty area and clattered into the Harrow youngster, but referee Atkin allowed the play to continue, and Clarke ran on to roll the ball into the net from a narrow angle, the ball clipping the post on the way in.
As the half closed, Dover’s Ball was lucky that the referee deemed a penalty area handball to be ‘ball to hand’: on another day, a spot-kick would have resulted.
The second half began with a Lawrence shot over, but Harrow then had to cope with some sustained Dover pressure. Moore fired over after shrugging off Bobby Highton, before Murphy failed to look where he was passing the ball, presenting Grazioli with a great opportunity, but the former Peterborough striker’s low shot did not unduly trouble Baptiste. Jinadu then headed clear in a dangerous situation and reacted quickly to a follow-up shot. In their third start together, he and Danny Leech looked very secure as the centre-back partnership.
But the more that Dover pressed, the more susceptible they looked to breaks by Harrow’s quick forwards. On the hour, Clarke’s reverse pass sent Shroot away, and his left-foot shot was well saved by Whitehouse with his left foot. At the other end, Shroot tried a trick too many and gave away the ball, allowing a right-wing cross from which Grazioli flashed a header across the goal. Wallis then hit a long-range low shot just past the post. Clarke then broke to the other end and was brought down. Noel tried a curler with the free-kick and Whitehouse tipped it over.
Noel then went through in the inside-right channel and shot rather wildly when passing to Clarke or Shroot would have been a better bet. But the 18-year-old made up for it in the 75th minute. He was brought down on the left, Shroot tapped the free-kick to him, and Noel returned the ball with a very clever pass inside the full back. Shroot ran on and curled the ball round Whitehouse to make it 3-0.
Schulz tried an overhead-kick for Dover, but the ball went over, while Noel ran across the area, turning back and shooting over. Clarke tried a lob over Whitehouse but the ball went wide, and the same player then got to the left-hand by-line but his cross was cleared before incoming substitute Jones could convert.
Dover substitute Bailey drove over after some head-tennis in the Harrow area, before the whistle went and those fans who backed Harrow at 5/1 went off to collect their winnings.
Robin Shroot 4
Dewayne Clarke 41
Robin Shroot 75
1 Andray Baptiste
2 Danny Leech
3 Danny Murphy
4 Wayne Walters
5 Tobi Jinadu
6 Bobby Highton
7 Jamie Lawrence
8 Kwasi Frempong
Lee Hall 90
9 Dewayne Clarke
10 Gary Noel
Miles Jones 83
11 Robin Shroot
12 Lee Hall
14 Miles Jones
15 Kurt Morlese
16 Warren Whitely
17 Gary Ross