FA TROPHY SECOND QUALIFYING ROUND Harrow Borough 2 Wealdstone 2
ROCKY Baptiste carried out a Halloween haunting of old club Wealdstone with a controversial last-gasp equaliser for Harrow at Earlsmead on Saturday.
Only five minutes of added on time were signalled, but almost 97 had been played when Baptiste, who started his career at Stones, curled a 25-yard free-kick over the wall and inside the near post beyond the despairing dive of Sean Thomas.
The 37 year-old’s late show, the second of a double on the day, condemned Stones to the last thing they wanted ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup clash with League Two Rotherham – a replay on Tuesday night.
However, Gordon Bartlett’s men only have themselves to blame for not killing off the tie in a dominant first half an hour in which they scored one but may in truth have had four or five, but for a mixture of poor finishing and the brilliance of Rocky’s namesake Andray Baptiste.
Borough had an early shout for a penalty for hands waved away, before Stones went in front on seven minutes.
Ryan Ashe’s free-kick from the right was flicked on by Alan Massey for Rob Fitzgerald to head home.
For the next 20 minutes, Andray Baptiste kept Borough in the tie almost single handed.
The deadlocked electrician produced a stunning save on 13 minutes, clawing away Mark E’Bayer’s deflected shot through a crowd of players.
Kwasi Frempong’s brave block then denied James Gray, and it was Baptiste to the rescue again on 26 minutes when he denied the impressive Danny Spendlove.
Encouraged to still be in the tie, Harrow gave notice of better things to come as Dewayne Clarke and Dean Fenton forced Thomas to parry shots to safety.
It was all change at half-time as referee Mackay left the action with a groin strain, assistant Ian Kitchen taking over in the middle.
Borough levelled on 51 minutes as Dean Fenton’s ball up to the right side of the 18-yard box found Baptiste ahead of his marker, and the veteran striker fired past Thomas.
Danny McGonigle then lashed wastefully wide following great interplay between Clarke and Baptiste, and he was at fault at the other end when Wealdstone regained the lead just beyond the hour.
The Borough midfielder was booked for a cynical challenge on Keiron Forbes and the visitors extracted the full punishment as Lee Chappell’s 25-yard free-kick evaded everyone to nestle in the far corner.
Clarke missed a trio of decent chances to level as the clock ticked down as well as getting himself book for a prolonged rant at referee Kitchen.
The fifth minute of stoppage time brought a free-kick right on the edge of the box, but Baptiste appeared to waste Borough last chance of salvation with a shanked effort high into the night sky.
Little did the home fans know this was just a sighter for his even later piece of wizardry.