Harrow Borough 2 v 4 East Thurrock United
THE ROCKS produced a remarkable comeback to see them just a point off the play-offs as the beat Harrow Borough.
On a sticky pitch, both sides had early opportunities and Rocks felt they should have had a second minute penalty when the ball struck John Sonuga’s arm but ref Chris Bodell waved away the visitors’ claims.
Rocks were looking the brighter of the two sides and Nicky Symons shot wide from distance before a glorious chance to open the scoring when Kye Ruel skipped through the home defence but, having done all the hard work, he failed to get any elevation on his attempt to beat Nick Jupp and the keeper made a comfortable save.
So it was against the run of play when Borough went in front in the 23rd minute with an astonishing goal. Nik Salapatas sent Marc Charles-Smith away on the left. He reached the by-line and cut in towards goal, getting past two defenders and reaching the six-yard box, before shooting from the tightest of angles, the ball squeezing between keeper David Hughes and his near upright.
Borough should have doubled their lead immediately, as Charles-Smith sent Salapatas clear on goal but though his shot beat Hughes it flashed past the far post.
Rocks briefly threatened and Jupp reacted well to save George McCluskey’s deflection of a Joe Paxman cross but another golden Harrow chance went begging as, following a great build-up between Michael Bryan and Charles-Smith, George McCluskey arrived on the ball eight yards out in the centre of goal but got his feet completely wrong and screwed the ball wide.
The half ended with a fine save from Hughes who reacted quickly to save a misdirected sdiving header from his own full back, Tom Stephen.
Harrow started the second half well and Sekou Kaba Kaba should have done better with an early second-half opportunity, screwing the ball wide after a promising build-up.
Rocks might have got level when George McCluskey managed to hit his own bar with a clearance and Borough made the most of the let-off by doubling their lead in the 55th minute. Bryan was tripped on the right, and Nik Salapatas’s outswinging delivery was glanced into the far corner by John Sonuga who was unmarked amid a static visiting defence.
The goal was to prove the catalyst for an East Thurrock recovery and they were to dominate the rest of the match. David Bryant replaced Paxman and Rocks pushed him up alongside lone striker Sam Higgins and Ruel going wide where he gave Danny Dyer a torrid time. From one his his crosses on the hour Harrow struggled to get the ball away and it fell invitingly for Lewis Smith who crashed a shot past Jupp from the edge of the box.
Bryant then forced an unusual save from Jupp who dived to head the ball away after the striker had attempted to clip it past hi. Rocks had built up a head of steam and got on level terms on 76 minutes when Smith’s miscued shot fell to the feet of Higgins who quickly adjusted his position and slotted the ball home.
And the Smith-Higgins combination produced the third goal with five minutes to go when Higgins slid in at the fat post to smash another misdirected Smith shot into the rood of the net,
Six minutes of added time was added, largely because of a lengthy stoppage midway through the half that saw Jupp have a foot injury strapped and deep into it Rocks grabbed a fourth when Smith, who had won the foul, struck a free kick from the edge of the box and it ended in the net thanks to a significant deflection.