Billericay Town 1 Harrow Borough 1
INCREASED competition for places is one of the main reasons for Harrow's slow change in fortunes on the pitch, according to their manager.
Borough followed up the 2-0 midweek victory at Hastings United with another battling display at the New Lodge on Saturday, the best this season in the eyes of boss David Howell.
Darren Grieves' 27th minute strike was cancelled out shortly before the break by Billy Bricknell before both sides blew chances to bag maximum points.
Howell, who handed a debut to American defender Blake Goodman, said: "It was both two points lost and a point gained as the result could have gone either way. We played well against Hastings and won but this time we played even better, probably our best performance to date, yet we were up against a much stronger team. They started off brightly while we finished strongly. "
For the second time in a week, Howell was limited in terms of players and his pre-match preperations were hit by the late arrival of Danny Leech due to traffic and Jamie Lawrence failing a late fitness test.
However, Howell was delighted with his side's efforts and reckons those who have come in have thrown down the gauntlet to the club's more established first teamers.
"Sometimes when you get competition for places people can't afford to take things for granted," added the manager. "It prompts them to come out of their comfort zone and start looking over their shoulders.
"The problem I have is trying to pick the team and keep everyone happy. I've been leaving people out that maybe should have been playing. Danny Leech and Bobby Highton were on the bench while Jamie Lawrence failed a fitness test. Those three are usually mainstays of the side. "
Howell recently questioned the attitude of some of his players but now says there is a good vibe sweeping through the squad.
"The feeling in the camp is a lot better. A lot of clubs know their squad and budget at the start of the season whereas we are in the dark. Sometimes I'll have triallists in but won't know if they want to stay as they look at their options. But the squad is much more settled now."
On Saturday the hosts were on the attack from the start, with Bricknell close to converting Ferguson's fifth minute cross before Hunter fired wide.
Harrow hit back and Jonathan Constant's goalbound shot deflectedoff McSweeney before Borough goalkeeper
Andray Baptiste denied Bricknell and Wareham in quick succession.
With some open football from both sides, a goal looked likely, and it was Harrow who got it in the 27th minute. Kwasi Frempong played the ball to Daniel McGonigle, who found Constant on the left. He cut inside a defender and crossed to the far post where Grieves arced a header across Buckfield and into the far corner.
Billericay's Shave then had a header pushed away by Baptiste before he thwarted Bricknell once again. The hosts kept banging away on Harrow's door and finally got their reward when Bricknell beat Baptiste at the third time of asking shortly before half time.
Bricknell wasted a golden chance to fire his side ahead before the break while Grieves saw an opportunity go begging at the other end of the pitch.
McGonigle was booked early in the second half for a late challenge on Billericay goalkeeper Buckfield before Grieves continued to be a menacing presence in the hosts' danger zone. Goodman then came on for his Harrow debut, replacing Simon Dahl, and the visitors almost regained the lead but for another fine save by Buckfield to deny Constant.
Billericay then enjoyed a sustained period of pressure but leggy stopper Baptiste was not to be beaten again as he pulled off more fine saves to frustrate the hosts.
In stoppage time Harrow countered but Grieves pulled his shot wide of the target before collapsing in a heap with cramp.
Harrow Borough: Baptiste, L Hall, Dahl (Goodman, 66), Walters (cpt), Browne, Frempong, Fraser, McGonigle (Hunte, 79), Grieves, Constant, Williams (Highton, 90).