As local derbies go this was far from what you would call a classic with the ball seeing more of the night sky than the grass on the pitch however a timely first United goal from Charlie Wassmer with three minutes of the ninety left was eventually enough to see United to a first ever League victory over Harrow having lost the previous two encounters 3-2.
With several big games on the horizon in the push for promotion, Manager Paul Hughes again shuffled his pack with three changes from the previous two line-ups. Jack Smith returned in goal with both Jordan Norville-Williams and Kadell Daniel also returning to the starting XI.
The game started off at rapid pace with three good chances in the first six minutes, firstly for the hosts a corner was only part cleared as far as Ahmet Biler, his 25 yard drive being gathered by Jack Smith at the second attempt. Within a minute home stopper Josh Strizovic was called into action at the other end, Kadell Daniel collected the ball on the left before laying it off to Francis Amartey who saw his driven shot well held by Strizovic.
Almost straight away a long Biler punt upfield saw Balai Dembele turn past Charlie Wassmer before firing across Smith and wide of the far post, this was however to be a false dawn in attacking enterprise because as play settled chances became less and less frequent with both defences on top.
A good chance for the hosts however did show itself on 24 minutes as Lewis Cole headed a clearance back over the United defence to James Ewington, the normally accurate striker firing over as Smith came to close him down and two minutes later a great chance at the other end saw Moses Emmanuel move on to a chip over the home defence but as Strizovic came out and under pressure from James Mansfield, he also failed to hit the target with his chipped effort.
Just after the half hour mark United went close when Jack Connors fired over a deep free-kick, Charlie Wassmer headed it back across goal to Amartey who saw his shot kept out by a combination of ‘keeper and woodwork and we remained scoreless although United went close again in the final minute of the half as a Daniel free-kick just evaded the sliding boot of Emmanuel allowing Strizovic to gather.
Chances were to be even rarer in the second half if that was possible with the home side negating any forward runs from United while the United defence were perfectly on top of the hosts long punts up the park with Wassmer and Ben Frempah in fine form at the back.
In fact the first thirty minutes of the half saw very little of note, the closest being for the home side on 74 minutes when Strizovic punted a free-kick towards the United area that was collected on the right by George Moore but any effort to pull the ball back across or shoot was snuffed out by Smith quickly coming out to block the ball away.
The final ten minutes saw more urgency than the previous 80 to be honest. A Daniel free-kick was only cleared to Omar Rowe who saw his 20 yard effort flash wide of the target and then with three minutes of the ninety left the deadlock was finally broken. Jordan Norville-Williams slung a long throw in to Wassmer at the near post, his initial effort to pull the ball across was blocked but the central defender was quickly onto the lose ball to fire it into the far corner of the Borough net from the tightest of angles.
Having gone behind the hosts seemed to change tactics as the ball started to stay on the ground and this drew a brace of chances to pull level that thankfully came to nothing. A minute after going behind, one of a gaggle of former United men in the hosts side, Kunle Otudeko collected the ball and tried his luck from 20 yards but Jack Smith held on comfortably.
In the third minute of added time, a free-kick was fired into the United six yard box from the left side, the log jam of bodies in the middle saw Smith block the ball away with Rowe finding Amartey with his clearance, the striker pushing forwards before finding Emmanuel who was denied by Strizovic.
In the seventh of the minimum of five added minutes and with Borough stopper Strizovic up in the United box a free-kick was played in but dropped to Amartey just outside the area, he looked to turn and take the ball upfield towards the empty goal only to be penalised for a foul that all and sundry thought was on the United man, not by him. This gave the home side another chance to draw level however the United wall stood firm and the final whistle blew soon after to see United move within 3 points of leaders Farnborough with that critical one game still in hand and a superior goal difference.
Report by Kevin Watts.
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