Town moving ever closer...
Harlow Town 0 Enfield Town 3
Following this impressive win at the Harlow Arena on Easter Monday, a point or three from Town’s final “regular” league game this Saturday (22nd) at home to Leiston would secure a play-off semi-final spot on Thursday 27th April. There are a number of permutations in terms of who might play against who, and where, depending on the outcomes of both Town v Leiston and Wingate & Finchley v Dulwich Hamlet on the same day. Needham Market have an outside mathematical chance of entering the equation if they beat Billericay Town at home and Wingate lose, but they are hampered by currently having a minus goal difference and would need both matches to combine to produce an 8-goal swing in their favour and rely on an Enfield Town win or a draw at the QES.
There was one change to the Town starting XI from 48 hours earlier, Percy Kiangebeni coming in for the unwell Harold Joseph. All the significant action was in the second half. The opening period was a tense affair, the Hawks needing a win to keep their slim hopes of fifth spot flickering. In the third minute, Dernell Wynter had Town’s first chance of the game after an attempted clearance gave him an opportunity, but former Town keeper David Hughes saved comfortably. After Nathan McDonald had safely gathered a dangerous cross from Junior Dadson, some great work from Karl Oliyide on the right fed Wynter, but his effort lacked sufficient power to trouble Hughes unduly.
Tyler Campbell fired wide and Hughes saved again from Wynter before, in the 21st minute, a Ricky Gabriel header hit the outside of a post following a set piece. Five minutes later, Harlow’s Mario Noto tested McDonald following a quick break; the Town stopper grabbing the ball at the second attempt.
Half-time: Harlow Town 0 Enfield Town 0
After Charlie Dickens had headed clear from Harry Ottaway, the game opened up on 53 minutes when Oliyide tore down the right and looked up to see Ottaway lurking at the far post, and his low slide-rule pass was turned in by a simultaneous combination of Ottaway and Craig Pope. The pressure valve released a little, Town fans began to enjoy the occasion as the visitors’ football began to flow more easily.
Soon after the opening goal, Hawks’ Layne Eadie had to be carried off, looking very groggy after a facial blow. On the hour mark Hawks fans were calling for a penalty after Ricky Gabriel tangled with Bamba Ngamb, but referee Thomas Hancock waved away the appeals. After Wynter’s shot had been blocked by Ibrahima Sonko, the giant Hawks’ centre back then headed a corner just over the bar, and the hosts also had chances via Noto and Alex Read, who blazed well over when dangerously placed.
With 15 minutes remaining, a deep Crook corner from the Town left found the head of Mark Kirby and, although Hughes did well to parry, it was only cleared as far as Ottaway who turned and smashed the loose ball into the net to effectively seal the points.
Wynter attempted to convert substitute Samir Bihmoutine’s cross acrobatically as the game entered 8 minutes of stoppage time, and Bihmoutine also wasted no time in testing Hughes again with a couple of piledrivers. Between these efforts, Harlow skipper Pope picked up a second yellow after hauling down Ottaway. As the final whistle was about to be blown, a great move involving Bobby Devyne and Bihmoutine ended with an emphatic finish from Oliyide, to send the away fans into raptures.
Harlow Town: David Hughes, Craig Pope, Layne Eadie (Bamba Ngamb 57), Charlie Dickens, Ibrahima Sonko, Stanley Muguo, Jared Small, Fabion Simms, Alex Read (Tommy Fagg 77), Mario Noto (Jack Curtis 81), Junior Dadson. Unused: Syrus Gordon, Patrick Lee. Booked: Simms, Pope, Noto, Fagg. Sent off: Pope.
Enfield Town: Nathan McDonald, Jonathan Muleba, Ricky Gabriel, Percy Kiangebeni, Mark Kirby, Scott Shulton (Nathan Livings 85), Tyler Campbell (Samir Bihmoutine 74), Billy Crook, Dernell Wynter (Bobby Devyne 84), Harry Ottaway, Karl Oliyide. Unused: Mickey Parcell, Trey Williams. Booked: Campbell, Shulton.