RYMAN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION
Harrow Borough 0 Bury Town 2
Ex-Arsenal keeper James Shea suffered an Artur Boruc-like moment of madness as Harrow Borough’s dismal home record continued at Earlsmead on Saturday.
Three weeks on from the Southampton keeper’s ill-fated attempt to dance around Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud with the help of a Johan Cruyff turn, Shea suffered an even worse fate after dithering over what should have been a routine clearance two minutes from time and gifting the ball to Town’s Billy Clarke.
Blind panic followed as the youngster, who has been in inspired form since his arrival with the reds, rugby tackled the striker to the floor earning a straight red card.
Stalwart Danny Leech donned the jersey for the resulting penalty, but Clarke sent him the wrong way from the spot to condemn Borough to a fifth defeat of the campaign on home turf.
Perhaps it was the ‘Vice-Presidents Player of the Month’ award which proved the curse for Shea, who must also shoulder a portion of blame for the first goal of the day.
Defeat was harsh on Borough, who had two effort cleared off the line in a dominant second half against their effective, yet one-dimensional Suffolk visitors, but who also had boss Dave Anderson sent from the dugout for foul and abusive language.
Anderson made three changes from Tuesday’s Middlesex Senior Cup defeat at Staines with Adam Louth, Shaun Lucien and Robert Hastings giving way to Ryan Parsons, Calum Willock and Luke Croll respectively, the last having replaced fellow Crystal Palace loanee Michael Chambers whose month-long deal had expired seven days earlier.
Borough should have been ahead inside two minutes when Saheed Sankoh volleyed wastefully over from Michael Barima’s excellent cross.
However, 60 seconds later there were warning signs of what was to come for Shea when he fumbled a Ryan Semple cross and needed Michael Peacock to bail him out by hacking the ball to safety.
Willock’s 12 minute cross-shot forced a smart save from Marcus Garnham, but just three minutes later Bury grabbed the lead. Clark’s shot deflected past a wrong-footed Shea only to dribble the wrong side of the post, but the Borough custodian flapped unconvincingly at the resulting corner and with his fellow defenders slow to react the ball was stabbed goal-wards before Adam Bailey-Dennis poked it over the line from a yard out.
Clark might have doubled the lead just three minutes later, volleying over after Shane Tolly headed another Semple cross into his path, while at the other end shouts for handball following a Sankoh shot were waved away by referee Adrian Waters.
Wllock gave way to Lucien at half-time giving Simeon Akinola a more central role as Borough looked for a first goal in four matches and they dominated a fractious second period.
Four minutes in Wolleaston tried a cheeky long range effort with Garnham out of position, but his effort landed off target. Lucien’s 55 minute free-kick flew inches wide, while Steve Butterworth volleyed over from a corner just a minute later. Skipper Wolleaston then produced another surge forward, playing a one-two with Parsons, but again failed to force a save from Garnham after firing narrowly wide.
The closest they came to a leveller was midway through the half when Lucien’s super cross to the far stick was met powerfully by the head of Peacock only to hit the head of Miles Smith on the line and deflect over.
Smith knew little about the intervention, but it was a crucial one nevertheless. Butterworth then forced a sprawling save from Garnham for a corner volleyed over by debutant Croll.
The Eagles’ youngster was close again following a flurry of corners, before Anderson was sent from the bench with eight minutes to go.
The Borough boss admitted later to swearing at the official, though his language was no worse than that used by either Seb Dunbar or substitute Daniel Cunningham for Bury at various points over the 90 minutes, both of whom escaped censure.
All the Borough pressure came to waste two minutes from time as Shea’s moment to forget unfolded – both he and full-back Michael Barima will feel in hindsight they had ample opportunities to get the ball forward before disaster struck.
Five minutes of stoppage-time unfolded, but there was not even to be the consolation of an end to the goal drought as the luckless Peacock’s back header was scrambled off the line by Dunbar.
Tomorrow night’s Ryman League Cup tie with Metropolitan Police will provide some respite to a worrying league run before the visit to Billericay on Saturday.