The Hillians picked up our first point of the new Bostik Premier League campaign, with a 1-1 draw away at Harlow Town.
Ian Chapman made three changes from Saturday’s starting XI, with Watson, Fisk and Bennett, replacing Richards, Beck (unavailable) and Brivio. Kieron Pamment returned to the squad, following his absence against Potters Bar Town on Saturday.
The opening chance of the game fell to Harlow’s Charlie Clayden, as his effort narrowly fizzed past the far post, following some good skill to cut inside. The opening 20 minutes, saw both sides compete in the middle of the park, without either creating too many clear cut opportunities. Until, in the 23rd minute, the Hillians combined a beautiful string of one-touch passes, before the hosts cleared for a throw in. The throw-in fell to Ben Pope, who did brilliantly to hold off Rodgers, before laying the ball back to Connor Tighe, who unleashed a curling effort, from 25 yards, over the head of Bexon and into the back of the net. Harlow went in search of an instant reply, when 7 minutes later, Raad’s dangerous delivery somehow evaded Clayden at the back post, and trickled out for a goal kick. Harlow continued to push for an equaliser, with Gordon passing up two golden opportunities. Firstly, a driven effort flew high and handsome, failing to trouble Josh James, before an even better chance presented itself, but Gordon could only direct his header straight into the thankful arms of James.
The hosts, as expected, started the second half as they had ended the first, pressing for a leveller. However, it was in fact Pope who had the first chance of the half, as his curling effort looked destined for the top right corner, before a vital block by Da Cruz directed the ball over the crossbar. Josh James was called into action in the 58th minute, as he turned Raad’s free-kick smartly around the post. Again, James was required five minutes later, as McCollin turned on a sixpence, forcing the Hillians number one to parry away his effort. The hosts finally got their equaliser, in the 70th minute, as an in-swinging corner found its way to J.J. Da Cruz, who couldn’t miss from a yard out – a scrappy yet deserved leveller for The Hawks. The introduction of Pamment caused Harlow problems, and it was the former Rebel who forced Bexon into a smart save low down to his left. In the 88th minute, a superb piece of defending by skipper Elphick, prevented the hosts from snatching all three points, as he somehow used his head to clear McCollin’s effort off the line. The final chance of the match fell to Ian Chapman’s side, as Charman’s floated delivery found Elphick, who’s header caused a moment of ‘pinball’ in the Harlow box, before frantically being cleared. Calls for a late Hillians penalty were waved away, as the referee blew the full time whistle.
A battling point for the Hillians, who get their 2018/19 Bostik Premier League account up and running. Hill’s MOTM was awarded to Ibrahim Diallo, who worked tirelessly in the middle of the park for the entirety of the 90 minutes.
Thank you to all you Hillians who made the long trip to Essex, to support Ian Chapman’s men last night. The end of last season proved how important your presence is, and you’ve certainly picked up from where you left off!
Report by Colin Obbard.