MATCH PREVIEW: Harlow Town vs Ashford
by Alan Constable

After the excitement of the Cup last Saturday it’s back to the League for the Tangerines tomorrow. In the shape of a visit to Harlow Town. The address of the ground is: Harlow Arena, Elizabeth Way Harlow Essex CM19 5BE. It is a journey of some 56 miles, round the north path of the M25 where you have several choices of exit. The most direct being from Junction 25. Harlow have a 3G surface.

Our hosts made a good start to the season, beating both Enfield and Sporting Bengal in the FA Cup and then winning 2-0 at home to FC Romania in the League. Since that match though, they have lost six games in a row in all competitions. However, all but one of them have been by the odd goal, and their web site shows that six new players have been signed very recently. Including two on loan from Leyton Orient. It maybe, therefore, that we encounter a very different Harlow side to that which started the season.

Our two clubs have met in the past although not all that frequently. Apart from last season when we drew one apiece at Harlow, our goal courtesy of Sam Humphreys, and lost 1-2 at home where our scorer was Dan Brown. All the other clashes were before 2010. The very first being a pre-season friendly at Short Lane on 8 August 2006 which resulted in a 0-0 draw. It doesn’t sound as if it was very exciting and the writer has no recollection other than recalling it was a very late arrangement after we had been let down by someone else. We then went on to meet our opponents over two seasons when we were both in the Premier Division of the Isthmian (then Ryman) League. By far the most satisfying from our point of view was the 5-2 win at Harlow on 17 March 2009, our goals coming from Warren Harris (2), Luke Pigden, who was on loan to us, Anthony Joseph, and Byron Harrison. Should any Harlow supporters be reading this, their scorer was Chris Ellerbeck with both their goals. And the home keeper James Hassell saved a late penalty from Ricky Wellard to keep the score at 2-5. The report at the time hints that the final scoreline did not accurately reflect the overall pattern of the game. Looking back at our team that night it contained three players who went on to play in the Football League. (I’ve named two but can anyone guess the other one, still playing and quite local to us). Another player on loan with us then was Michael Peacock, who played for Chertsey in the FA Vase Final two seasons ago.

On to today. And as a result of all the solitary goal defeats, Harlow currently sit in 18th place, although we suspect that is a very false position. Were we to win, it is conceivable that we could be right at the top of the table on Saturday evening: equally defeat could send us tumbling four or five places.

Two more “big” games come up next week, starting on Tuesday evening at home to Chertsey Town. They found themselves on the wrong end of a 0-3 defeat at home to Marlow last Tuesday evening and it was no fluke with Marlow looking strong throughout. Next Saturday we have our reward for beating Hullbridge in the FA Trophy, which is another lengthy trip. This time down to Sussex to meet Hastings United, who are in good form at present. More to come on those matches in due course.

The Ladies went out of the Women’s FA Cup last Sunday, losing on penalties 4-5 to Kent Ladies. The visitors deserved their two goal lead at half-time but a fight back saw Ashford equalising with some 15 minutes left but they just couldn’t quite clinch the match with another goal and their higher opponents went on to win the shoot out, scoring taking five impressive penalties, to our four, and indulging in some fairly unladylike behaviour at the end, clearly not happy with one or two of our supporters, one in particular. We wish them well though in the next round in which they will meet AFC Wimbledon.

Other news is that we have been drawn at home to Croydon in the Surrey Senior Cup and have a bye in the opening round of the Middlesex Senior Cup. The Under-18’s maintained their improvement in the Combined Counties Youth Division, although only able to draw one apiece against Godalming last Monday.