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Match Report

Harrow Borough
5
Hendon
5
Date:
Saturday 26 December 2015
Competition:
Isthmian League Premier Division
Attendance:
264
Venue:
TBA

Match Report

Hendon and Harrow Borough played out an almost surreal Boxing Day Ryman League Premier Division fixture at Earlsmead - where else? - the teams sharing 10 goals. For Borough, as one of their fans said after the match, "We have not won on Boxing Day since 1989, but this was easily the most entertaining."

As far as the Greens were concerned, this draw not only felt like a defeat, but also was one of the most demoralising results they have had for some time. This was especially so as Hendon were 4-1 ahead after 21 minutes and 5-3 up 15 minutes into the second half.

Sam Flegg was unavailable, but his absence was countered by the return of Sam Murphy, and Hendon also replaced Ryan Gondoh with Carl McCluskey in the starting line-up. On the bench goalkeeper Melvin Minter replaced coach Scott Cousins.

Even though Hendon had the benefit of a very strong wind at their backs, it was Harrow who made the dream start, taking the lead after barely a minute. The Hendon defence was not alert to the danger and the ball was despatched by Lewis Driver after he had cut inside two men in green.

The lead lasted four minutes and it was a nightmare for 17-year-old debutant goalkeeper Jamie Cassel. He came for a long throw-in by Luke Tingey and succeeded only in punching the ball into his own net.

Two minutes later the story was repeated. This time, however, Tingey's throw-in bobbled around in the six-yard box with Cassel, who had again come in vain for the ball, out of position.

Kezie Ibe deflected the ball goalwards and the last touch came from Harrow full-back Michael Barima who was vainly triyng to stop the ball crossing line. Ibe was credited with the goal.

Adam Wallace should have made it 3-1 in the 11th minute when he was sent clean through on goal. Cassel came off his line without any real conviction, and was lucky to see Wallace fire the ball inches wide of the right post.

What might have been a key moment came in the 15th minute when Shaun Preddie, chased a through ball with Ibe. The defender's hand made contact with the ball - it appeared to be inadvertently - but he did knock it away from the striker.

Given the angles, the referee could not have seen for certain whether it was handball or not, but his assistant was well placed and, after a second's hesitation, he flagged. The two officials spoke for some time before the sanction against Preddie was issued. Although it would have been very unfortune for Preddie, his intervention seemed to deny the Hendon striker a clear goalscoring opportunity so, on that basis, a yellow card might have been considered lenient.

Finnbar Robins' 25-yard free-kick didn't trouble the Cassel. Two minutes later, however, the goalkeeper made a superb save when he dived low at this near post to deny Ibe who had got to flick from another long-throw by Tingey.

Cassel was soon beaten for a third time. In the 19th minute, a corner curled in towards the goal. Carl McCluskey lost his marker and glanced a header into the net.

And it got even better for Hendon in the 21st minute when Harrow were again penalised a few yards outside their penalty area. Robins' previous free-kick could be considered a sighter on the evidence of this strike which flew into the top corner with no other player doing more than spectating.

This was a Christmas present every Hendon fan wanted. But, this being Boxing Day, gifts should be exchanged and, in the last few minutes of the half, the Greens gave Harrow Borough hope by conceding twice.

In the 41st minute, not only did the Hendon defence allow far too much space for Harry Newman to get in a cross. Compounding that error, no one was on the back post to stop Driver scoring his second of the afternoon with a well-directed header.

With stoppage time at the end of the half almost over, Hendon again failed to stop Borough and Marc Charles-Smith made the half-time score 4-3. In those few minutes what had seemed like a comfortable afternoon for the Greens became nightmarish.

The wind, which should have been a huge advantage, didn't appear to be so. Two minutes after the resumption, a cross from Robins bamboozled Cassel and he was delighted and relieved to see the ball hit the crossbar rather than dipping into the net.

In the 59th minute, Harrow did concede again. Good approach play set up Wallace, and he scored from close range.

Instead of going on to take the three points, Hendon were quick to push the self-destruct button. Harrow, who had already replaced Josh Webb and David Taylor with Spencer McCall and Fejiri Okenabirhie, after 33 minutes and at half-time, respectively, reduced the arrears despite conceding a corner.

They cleared the set-piece and launched a counter-attack, which left the Hendon defence absent without obtaining leave. Okenabirhie ran onto a through-ball, beat Joe Wright to it and made it 5-4.

With 15 minutes remaining, the comeback was complete. Charles-Smith completed his double when the Hendon defence failed to deal with danger.

There was more than enough time for Borough to go on to win this remarkable game, but they didn't manage it. Hendon replaced the injured Robins, with Gondoh, and made tactical switches of Ben Pattie for Ibe and Tony Taggart for Murphy.

Wright made a superb fingertip save to keep out a strike from Driver and for a spell of five or so minutes, Hendon struggled to get the ball across the half-way line, let alone create danger.

Then when they did force a corner they nearly conceded again. Mark Kirby tried to score with an overhead kick, missed the ball and was out of the play as Borough charged in the opposite direction. Dave Diedhiou's intervention spared his captain's blushes.

As the game moved into stoppage time, Borough became over-anxious about snatching a winner and nearly lost their hard-earned point when Hendon broke downfield and Wallace found Pattie.

The substitute took the ball around Cassel, but the ball bobbled enough for Pattie to need a touch before shooting goalwards. This allowed enough time for Michael Peacock to make a block.

The ball went back to Pattie but it bounced higher than he wanted and thus could not keep his second attempt down.

That was the final chance and pretty much everyone walked away from the match wondering what on earth they had witnessed.

Hendon manager Gary McCann said, "Only one dressing room can be happy with that result. We did very well going forward, but our defending was completely unacceptable. There are going to be changes."

Harrow boss, Steve Baker, a former Hendon team-mate of McCann in the late 1990s, was equally critical about his team's performance. He said, "I cannot be happy with the way we defended today."

Report by David Ballheimer

Hendon

1
Joe Wright
2
Luke Tingey
3
Oliver Sprague
4
Wesley Fonguck
5
Mark Kirby
6
Dave Diedhiou
7
Finbarr Robins
8
Carl McCluskey
9
Adam Wallace
10
Kezie Ibe
11
Sam Murphy
12
Ben Pattie
13
Charlie Kuehn
14
Tony Taggart
15
Ryan Gondoh
16
Melvin Minter

Match Events

Lewis Driver
1''
5''
Joe Wright
8''
Kezie Ibe
19''
Carl McCluskey
21''
Finbarr Robins
Spencer McCall replaced Joshua Webb
33''
Lewis Driver
41''
Marc Charles-Smith
45''
Fejiri Okerabirhie replaced David Taylor
46''
59''
Adam Wallace
Fejiri Okerabirhie
62''
Kane Jones replaced Michael Bryan
70''
74''
Ben Pattie replaced Kezie Ibe
Marc Charles-Smith
75''
78''
Ryan Gondoh replaced Dave Diedhiou
83''
Tony Taggart replaced Sam Murphy

Harrow Borough

1
Jamie Cassel
2
Josh Webb
3
Michael Barima
4
Shaun Preddie
5
Michael Peacock
6
Joshua Webb
7
Michael Bryan
8
David Taylor
9
Marc Charles-Smith
10
Lewis Driver
11
Harry Newman
12
Fejiri Okerabirhie
14
Kane Jones
15
Spencer McCall
16
Jack Waldren
17
Dylan Cascoe