Enfield Town 2 Harlow Town 1
Ryman League Division One (North)
It wasn't a pretty match tonight and as expected Marvin Samuel's Harlow Town certainly weren't 7/1 outsiders for the win as bwin.com had made them prior to kick off.
The Hawks looked a far better team than recent visitors to Goldsdown Road in fellow struggler's Cheshunt and Leyton. Going forward right winger Reece Dobson showed lots of skill and pace and was the stand out player on the night.
It was Dobson who got the first chance of the game after about 5 minutes when his shot grazed the bar which encouraged the visiting fans behind the goal to make some noise which was nice to see for a change. Paul Marks then had a soft header saved easily by Callum Horton.
The Hawks didn't look like a side rooted the bottom of the table especially going forward. A mazy run to the edge of the penalty box from left back Joe Clemo and a quick pass to former Towner Wayne Grant who had the goal in front of him only for a very impressive last ditch tackle from Mark Kirby in the heart of the Town defence to break down the attack.
Harlow had the upper hand of the first 20 or so minutes of the match with centre forward Julian Edwards sending a soft looking shot towards the goal after an uncharacteristic slip from Michael Bardle which was saved by Rob Blackburne. Looking back on it Edwards will have want to have done more in this position.
Dobson seemed to be the catalyst for The Hawks going forward and it was somewhat against the run of play when a penalty was awarded to The Town for Jason Walker's handball inside the box. There was no Town player near to him and he was under no pressure so it's unknown why he handled the ball.
Up stepped Rudi Hall who never seems to miss the target when taking penalties and MISSED sending the kick to the keepers left and past the post!!
RUDI MISSES HIS FIRST PENALTY KICK
Ben Hammond and Sam Byfield on the wings with Liam Hope and Adam Wallace up front were all working hard for Town but no real clear cut chances were being created.
This changed when Hammond using his pace ran with the ball through the centre of midfield and put a nice through ball to Hope whose shot on target was well saved by the sliding Horton just inside the edge of the box.
On 42 minutes Town made it 1-0 when Rudi made amends for missing the earlier penalty when somewhat harshly Joe Clemo was adjudged to have tripped Rudi just inside the box. The resulting kick was put to the keepers left again but this time on target and in the net.
RUDI SCORES HIS SECOND PENALTY KICK
HALF TIME 1-0.
Samuel's shuffled his pack at half-time bringing off midfielder Tom Whitbread for Eyong Tambeson who looked a big handy player in the centre of midfield.
Both team's looked dangerous going forward with Town very unlucky not to make it 2-0 when Wallace run into the box and put a lofted cross over the the awaiting Hope who obeyed the golden rule in football and headed the ball back to where it came from only for the post to get in the way.
Referee Chris Williams then blew up for a Harlow penalty when Mark Kirby appeared to lean on one of the Hawk's forwards inside the box. It was another soft penalty which you've seen given and not given. On the basis of Town's second penalty in the first half it was only probably fare that this one should of been given. The game levelling itself up so to speak.
Edwards penalty was put to Rob Blackburne's right hand side, The Town keeper was unlucky seeming to get a hand to it but the ball went into the net to make it 1-1. The Hawks fans celebrated by setting off their famous air raid siren causing one Town fan to make a phone-call to his Nan who lives nearby Goldsdown Road to stop her from worrying and spending the night in her garden shed.
With about 25 minutes left Steve & Del sent on Stuart Blackburne for Liam Hope. Most Town fans watching knew that Stuart's pace would be a threat especially against the tiring Walker and Barnes in the centre of the Hawks defence.
The result was almost instant when Stuart's blistering speed caused him to out run Walker and pass across the goal to Wallace who was unlucky not to get a shot in of target.
Dobson was still creating problems for the Town back four and he was unlucky with his run and shot on target which was saved but spilled by Rob Blackburne.
Edwards then used his strength in the box with a turn and shot on target which Rob spilled again and was very grateful to see the ball come back from the post into his grasp. Charlie Simpson also had a shot from the edge of the box which just went over the crossbar being set up after some great work by Tambeson.
Thankfully, Town then made it 2-1 when Stuart Blackburne broke with pace into the right hand side of the box and crossed for Wallace to tap home past Horton and a diving Hawks defender.
Shortly after Sam Byfield put in a cross from the left for Ban Hammond to header to Wallace who was again unlucky not to get an effort on target.
The best player on the pitch tonight in Reece Dobson picked up a knock and was replaced soon after and with him seemed to go Harlow's chances of a rescuing a point.
FULL TIME 2-1
Overall, On the balance of play a point each would of been a fair result but sometimes as the saying goes when your fighting up the top of the table you've got to "win ugly"...you can't win every game by 4 goals. Town created chances to put the game safe and didn't concede from open play and we've now won six league games on the spin so it's all good.
Cold End Man of the Match for the Town goes to Adam Wallace for his constant hard work and his deserved goal. Jordan Lockie also had a good game at right back as did Craig Mckay and Mark Kirby in the centre of defence against a capable attacking and dangerous Harlow side.
With Leyton gaining a welcome point at home to W&F tonight Marvin Samuel's side now find themselves 15 points from safety with three games in hand on the Lea Bridge Road side. Looking at the table I think it'll be two from Harlow, Leyton, Cheshunt and Redbridge who will suffer relegation although from Ilford on 26 points in 14th place any team with a bad run maybe pulled into the race to beat the dreaded drop. From what we've seen tonight Harlow Town may well prove what was thought impossible and escape as they didn't look a bad side. The clash with Cheshunt at Theobalds Lane on Saturday is now a highly important "must win" game for The Hawks.
Blackburne R, Lockie, Bardle, McKay, Kirby, Marks, Hammond (Blower), Hall, Hope (Blackburne S), Wallace, Byfield.
subs not used - Jones, Valenti, Bonfield.
Callum Horton, Damien Green (Elliott Green), Joe Clemo, Julio Barnes, Jason Walker, Tom Whitbread (HT - Eyong Tambeson), Reece Dobson (Ola Akinnawo), Ryan Maxwell, Wayne Grant, Julian Edwards, Charlie Simpson.
subs not used - Toby Ajola, Mervin Abrahams.
Att - 191.
RYMAN NORTH RESULTS TONIGHT
EAST THURROCK UNITED 3 NORTHWOOD 2
ENFIELD TOWN 2 HARLOW TOWN 1
LEYTON 1 W&F 1
POTTERS BAR TOWN 0 CONCORD RANGERS 2
REDBRIDGE P VCD ATHLETIC P
THAMESMEAD TOWN 0 ROMFORD 3
The Ryman result of the night came in the Premier Division where 11/2 Billericay Town beat previously unbeaten on the road Dartford 1-0. Congratulations also to Romford on their terrific 0-3 win at Bayliss Avenue.