FA CUP 1st QUALIFYING ROUND REPLAY
North Greenford 2
Harrow Borough 1
A CATALOGUE of missed chances followed by second-half surrender condemned Harrow Borough to FA Cup defeat at North Greenford last night.
Rhys Murrell-Williamson put Borough ahead midway through the first half, but numerous easier chances were squandered, leaving the door open for underdogs North Greenford to win it after the break and claim an away tie at Clacton on Saturday week.
The result increases the pressure on Borough boss Dave Anderson whose side have fallen at the first hurdle in the famous old trophy in successive seasons and who currently sit in the Ryman Premier relegation places.
Anderson made three changes to the team which drew the original tie at Earlsmead on Saturday, skipper Rob Wolleaston returning from injury in midfield, while Murrell-Williamson and Chris Benjamin were given starts on the left wing and up front respectively.
Danny Leech moved back to the centre of defence alongside Michael Peacock in the reshuffle, with Manny Parry, Jordan Berry and Stoke City U21 striker Marcel Barrington dropping to the bench to make way.
The changes seemed to give Borough and early pep with Simeon Akinola heading wide and Murrell-Williamson should have scored after four minutes, but his effort resembled more of a back-pass than a shot following a cross from the right.
Benjamin too shot wide before hosts North Greenford, who had forced the replay with a 94th minute leveller on Saturday, produced their only real threat of the half, Harry Walker hitting the outside of the near post at the end of a sweeping move with Alex Tokarcyzk beaten.
The visitors were soon back in the ascendancy, Leech forcing Lee Pearce to palm over for a corner from which Peacock headed a fraction too high.
And Murrell Williamson soon tested the North Greenford keeper with a rasping drive from distance which Pearce parried to safety.
The goal had to come and did on 26 minutes. Murrell-Williamson started and finished the move, playing a one-two with Benjamin before sliding the ball beyond Pearce.
If that was the best of the young winger we saw the worst two minutes later when Akinola danced through several tackles to square into Murrell-Williamson’s path for what was little more than a tap in.
However, the former Sutton youngster miscued horribly and with the ball going wide Benjamin was just unable to toe-end the ball into an empty net.
Wolleaston’s cross shot was then just too far in front of Leech as the crucial second remained elusive and worse followed three minutes later when Borough’s captain suffered a recurrence of his hamstring problem and was forced to limp off.
He was later named the Harrow Borough vice-presidents man of the match for Borough – a damning indictment of the rest of Anderson’s side who wilted in the absence of their prompter-in-chief.
Even so, Lucien and Benjamin missed further chances to increase the lead before the break, but once Murrell-Williamson had back-heeled against the post eight minutes after the restart the tide turned in favour of the hosts.
The first signs of trouble were penalty appeals against Leech after a clash with Walker, rightly waved away by referee Russell Howes.
Just before the hour home boss Neil Shipperley played his cards, bringing on Liam Hind and Danny Bennell for David Taylor and Tommy Cameron – it proved a master-stroke.
Just seven minutes later Hind picked up the ball 25 yards out on the left, dropped his shoulder to come inside and fired into the top corner.
Within three minutes the turnaround was complete when Brandon Horner needlessly gave away a free-kick out by the left corner flag and when the ball was played in Bennell, whose last gasp goal 72 hours earlier had forced the replay struck again to get the final touch.
Borough fans hoping for an onslaught by way of response were sadly disappointed as Sankoh’s near post flick parried by Pearce was the closest they came to forcing 30 extra minutes and the margin of defeat would have been worse had Anton Robinson’s late effort not been deflected wide with Tokarczyk stranded.
Life is not about to get easier for Borough or their beleaguered manager – a trip to leaders Maidstone 3D pitch and all is up next on Saturday.