Harrow Borough 3
Ashford Town (Middlesex) 1

Isthmian League Cup Semi Final,
Earlsmead, South Harrow
17th March 2008

Ashford’s defensive frailties came to haunt them as they suffered a second Semi Final defeat of the season, losing this time to the ten men of Harrow Borough.  Faced with four games in a week and hamstrung by the player eligibility regulations that apply in knockout competitions, Mark Butler was unable to call upon Luke Pigden, Michael Peacock or Anthony Joseph but fielded the strongest team available to him.

Playing down the Earlsmead slope in the first period, Ashford dominated the game but were unable to make the breakthrough, despite playing some fine football.  Ricky Wellard forced a save from home skipper Andray Baptiste, as did Warren Harris.  Both players had further chances to score around the half hour mark, as did Byron Harrison but the home defence and goalkeeper were in resolute form.

Gavin Smith was replaced by Scott Harris at half time and Harrow were reduced to ten men after Dewayne Clarke kicked out at Adam Logie and was shown a red card by Referee Child, who was otherwise maddeningly inconsistent.  The Tangerines initially made use of the extra man, with Harrison and Joseph going close, but Harrow were beginning to use the slope well and tested Paul Burgess with a couple of corners.

With 68 minutes on the watch, the home side took the lead with a real sucker-punch goal.  A loose pass from Wellard was seized by Gary Noel, who raced away from the defence and fired past Burgess.  Billy Jeffreys was felled by a Baptiste punch at a corner moments later, while Harrison had two opportunities to level after that.  However, the hosts doubled their advantage in the 78th minute when another break found Noel inside the Ashford box.  Although the prolific striker was denied, the rebound fell to Jerome Hall, who finished tidily.

With five minutes remaining, Scott Todd, who had come on for Danny Byron, had a shot which was straight at Baptiste and it was another of his efforts that rebounded to Byron Harrison, whose instinctive finish gave Town new hope.  However, the vociferous travelling support were denied an extra half-hour when an ambitious pass by Brett Cooper was picked off by Dorian Smith, who broke from his own half to score and end Ashford’s dreams of lifting the League Cup for the second time in three seasons.