Aveley 0 v 1 Harlow Town
Courtesy of Scott Hateley of www.pitchero.com/aveley
ALEX Read’s 44th goal of the season was all that separated Aveley and Harlow as the Hawks consolidated a play-off spot with a 1-0 win at Mill Field.
Read’s set-piece four minutes into the second half was the only real piece of quality seen in the final third all game with neither ‘keeper being tested often.
Though on another day both sides could have had a hatful, with Kyle Asante guilty of missing a number of chances in the first half for the home side.
But after being outdone by two goals from Junior Dadson in the reverse fixture in December, it was another former Miller, Read who did the damage this time around on his return to the club.
Overall, Justin Gardner was pleased with the performance from his side who would have still be smarting after the controversy that surrounded Tuesday night’s defeat to Needham Market.
Making just the one change to the side that lost 3-1 in Suffolk – with Taylor Nathaniel coming in for Alfred Kamara – it was the Millers that created the game’s first opportunity, falling to Kyle Asante.
Winning the ball in the centre of the park, Brian Okwera found the run of Asante who’d gotten the wrong side of his marker, but the striker was unable to apply enough lift on his effort, poking it straight into the hands of Daniel Knowles.
The danger man for Harlow was always likely to be Alex Read who had scored five times in his brief spell at Mill Field last season.
The striker they call ‘The Machine’ had 43 goals in all competitions before today and almost added another when his glanced header went wide.
Junior Dadson – himself in a rich vein of scoring form – recycled the ball by keeping it in play with the ball eventually finding its way to Leon Antoine – another former Miller – who blasted his shot from close range straight into the midriff of Kalin Artakiev who held well.
And Dadson himself almost snuck in when he fell just short of getting on the end of a through ball from James Smith, before Artakiev got just enough of a hand on it to divert the ball away.
Good defending from Jay Leader prevented Read from heading the visitors in front moments later, before Lee Weemes found himself in on goal only to have his effort blocked by some latch ditch defending by Darren Blewitt.
Arguably the best chance of the half for the Hawks fell to their left back, Layne Eadie, who blazed high over the crossbar after nicking the ball off Nathan Koranteng.
But it was Aveley who ended the half stronger with two more chances falling to Asante.
The first came from a long ball over the top from Glen Golby which sent the striker clear, but his poor connection on the half volley sent the ball harmlessly wide.
And just before the break Weemes’ through ball split the centre backs perfectly to send Asante through. Knowles’ hesitation allowed Asante to get to the ball first, but his poor first touch allowed Stanley Muguo to get back and steal the ball before he could get his shot away.
With the exception of Artakiev’s save from Antoine, neither goalkeeper had really been tested in the first half with quality severely lacking in the final third.
Although, minutes into the second half Harlow’s goalkeeper needed Muguo to come to his aid as he headed Golby’s goal bound effort off the line.
When these two sides met last season in a similarly poor spectacle, the winner came from a free kick which Petrit Elbi scored deep into stoppage time, sending a certain ‘commentator’ wild.
With both sides failing to find their finishing boots, it was always likely that a set piece would settle this game also, although those inside Mill Field didn’t have to wait until the 93rd minute this time around.
Nathaniel’s headed clearance could only find Shane Stamp who was adjudged to have been illegally brought down by the raised boot of Golby.
Despite Golby’s plea of innocence the free kick was awarded in a central position with Read standing over the dead ball. And the Harlow number nine managed to get his strike up and over the wall and past an almost motionless Artakiev to open the scoring with four minutes of the second half played.
It was tough to take for the home side who had, up until that point, defended stoutly but they found themselves behind and having to chase the game.
A second goal would have killed off any hope of a comeback and Read was sniffing for a second as he drilled a low half volley into the hands of Artakiev shortly after breaking the deadlock.
And Read saw another chance go begging after a quick Aveley free kick broke down, with the ball being played up to the Harlow striker whose effort was blocked by Golby for a corner.
Unfortunately Aveley were unable to muster a comeback in the second half with the ball spending long periods of time stuck in the middle of the park, but Adeyinka Cole did try an effort from distance that was well held by Knowles.
And as the game approached its conclusion both sides created one final chance each to either secure the win for the visitors or see the home side nick a point.
Stamp forced a save out of Artakiev with a drilled shot from the left which was parried straight to George Smith who couldn’t sort his feet out quick enough to get a shot away.
And on the counter, Paul Burnett had Aveley’s clearest chance of the second half and final chance to snatch a draw after being played in by Asante.
The winger cut inside to create space between him and Eadie but he couldn’t connect well with the strike allowing Joshua Urquhart to clear his lines and keep Harlow in third place in the league.
“We created a lot of chances in the first half and Kyle (Asante) should have walked away with a hat-trick today” said a frustrated Justin Gardner at full time.
“I thought the defence were solid and the tactics were spot on. We snuffed out (Junior) Dadson who was their main threat and we stopped their good players from influencing the game.
“Both teams have probably created four or five chances and didn’t take them, so it looked like a draw probably would have been a fair result, but I think it was a strange decision for the free kick.
“I don’t know what (Glen) Golby was supposed to do, but then we’ve got to deal with it. The goalie has lined up the wall and has been beaten pretty much down the middle so quite a poor goal to give away.”
Aveley: Kalin Artakiev, Adetayo Osifuwa, Taylor Nathaniel, Jay Leader, Glen Golby, Brian Okwera, Kyle Asante, Billy Holland (c), Lee Weemes (Adeyinka Cole 73’), Nathan Koranteng (Oyetunji Oyewale 80’), Michael Begg (Paul Burnett 60’)