RYMAN PREMIER LEAGUE
SHAUN Lucien turned super-sub to rescue a richly deserved point for Harrow in the season curtain-raiser with Billericay on Saturday.
The flying winger was confined to the bench for the first 45 minutes having been deemed the odd man out in a bold 4-3-3 formation employed by manager Dave Anderson which saw Leroy Griffiths, Simeon Akinola and Chris Benjamin start up front.
However, thrown on at the interval, Lucien produced the sort of stunning free-kick which has become his trademark to salvage a point for the hosts.
The strike saved the blushes of Benjamin who had produced an early candidate for miss of the season and it was the least Borough deserved for a dominant display which saw them hit the woodwork twice, see another effort scrambled off the line and have a decent shout for a penalty late on.
The visitors, sporting a much changed side from that relegated from The Conference South last season had the game’s first chance on 10 minutes when a long cross from the right found former Brentford man Glenn Poole unmarked, but he could not get enough on the attempted half volley to trouble Borough’s teenage keeper Max Obershmidt.
Just two minutes later Borough struck wood for the first time as Danny Leech’s glancing header from a right wing corner was deflected onto the far post and behind.
Saheed Sankoh then fired over after another slick move from the hosts, but it was the Essex visitors who stole in front against the run of play after half an hour.
The hosts’ wounds were self-inflicted as they failed to mark properly at a corner allowing the smallest man on the pitch Evans Kouassi to rise unchallenged and head home.
Gary Jones forced Andrew Young to tip over his 30-yard free-kick as the home side finished the half strongly, but they still went in 1-0 down at the break.
Jordan Berry was sacrificed before the restart to allow Lucien to enter the fray as Anderson’s side reverted to a 4-4-2 formation with Akinola switched to the left wing.
The switch almost brought immediate dividends as Akinola escaped down the flank and his dink over Young from an acute angle looked destined for the far corner until it was scrambled off the line.
At the other end James Robinson’s header almost squirmed beyond Oberschmidt who grabbed it at the second attempt, but scare survived Borough were soon in the ascendancy once more only to spurn a glorious chance to level just beyond the hour.
The hosts built an attack down the right and though first Griffiths and then Lucien saw shots blocked the latter drove in another cross-shot which fell to Benjamin no more than three yards out.
However, with the whole goal to aim at the former Sutton man somehow stabbed his shot high over the bar.
The chance to atone came just minutes later when a cross from the left found Benjamin unmarked, but though his header beat Young it crashed back off the junction of post and bar.
Gary Jones was then hurt by a reckless challenge from Max Lette-Jallow for which the young winger was booked and the left back soon required more treatment after getting his ankle caught in the turf.
It looked as though Borough’s luck was out but the equaliser they had long promised arrived on 76 minutes.
Callum Dunne was booked for a late tackle on Sankoh and Lucien extracted the full punishment with a devilish right foot strike over the wall beyond Young’s grasp and in off the underside of the bar.
Four minutes later Borough shouts for a penalty were waved away when Kevant Serbonij went down under George Bevan’s challenge and Matte-Jallow was lucky not to see red for kicking the ball away having already been booked.
Griffiths went close with a bicycle kick and Akinola shot over at the end of a great run started by an even better chest control and turn which left the defender for dead.
Lucien almost won it with the last kick of the game – a free-kick which beat everyone only to creep the wrong side of the post.
Nevertheless, this was a very encouraging start for a Borough side with plenty of attacking threat.