Harlow Town Ladies moved up to 4th in the league with a 3-0 victory away to Bowers & Pitsea Ladies. Goals from Tayla Handscombe, Davina Smith and an own goal were enough for the three points despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Right from the off, Harlow were put on the back foot as the hosts tried to get off to the best possible start. As they brought the ball forward in the opening minutes, their passes either ran stray or the danger was seen off by the defence. Chloe Bassett fired a dangerous ball into the box but no one was close enough to tap home before an error from the keeper almost allowed Olivia Steele in but Bethany Page did enough to to prevent a shot. Bowers continued to look dangerous as they filed forward. A cross-shot was well held by Sarah Walker before a shot was fired inches wide of the target.
Despite the positive start from the hosts, it was the Hawks who led after a deflected shot from Davina Smith was taken beyond the keeper. The goal gave Harlow a spark as they tried to extend their lead but a header from Georgia Box was comfortable for the keeper. Both sides tried to create chances as the clock ticked away but there were no clear cut chances with both sides defending well or chances running out of play. Nicole Farmer tried her luck from distance but the keeper gathered well before Sophie Rhodes dragged a shot wide for Bowers. As the game approached half-time Bowers continued to look for an equaliser. Ammarah Ali played a cheeky ball over to Juliet Thomas but Walker held onto the chip before she was out well to claim a loose ball.
There was also a huge chance for Harlow on the stroke of half-time. Page spilled the ball as Georgia Box chanced with Box placing to Olivia Steele on the edge. Her initial shot was blocked before her rebounded effort was just over the bar while Hannah Porter headed the ball just wide from a corner.
Both sides tried to start quickly in the second-half. Ammarah Ali tried to equalise as she made a good run towards the Harlow goal but her shot was well held by Sarah Walker. A minute later, the Hawks came close themselves. A header was just wide from a corner before Tayla Handscombe made a good run after intercepting the ball but Bowers were able to deal with the attack. Olivia Steele thought she had doubled the lead as she poked the ball home but she was deemed to have been offside.
Tayla Handscombe tried her luck from distance but the keeper managed to gather well before Walker was almost caught out by a deflected effort but she managed to change direction and hold onto the ball before Handscombe made another good run but she didn’t get the desire contact and again the keeper managed to hold on well. As the second-half progressed, both sides looked to score but neither could test their opponent. A cross was fired into the box but Olivia Steele’s header was comfortable caught by the Bowers keeper before Whitney Locke tried to break forward for the hosts but the ball was just behind her and Walker gathered.
With just over 15-minutes to play, Harlow had their second-goal as Handscombe was played through and finished into the top corner. A minute later, she almost scored a brace as she found themselves in a similar position but her shot towards the near post was held by the keeper before it could sneak into the goal. As the game came towards an end, both sides were still looking for goals but nothing would stick. Bowers tried to find a way back into the game with a couple of minutes to play but well-timed challenges prevented themselves scoring before the Hawks had a 3rd in the first minute of added time. Davina Smith flicked the ball beyond the keeper and into the bottom corner to confirm the win for Harlow.
For her goal-contributions, Davina Smith was the player of the match.
Speaking after the game, she said “We were getting a bit overloaded in the first half and we struggled to deal with that. When we got a play sitting in, we were a lot more comfortable and that contributed to our win.”
Hannah Porter added “We were under pressure in the first half with them playing four up-top but once we had someone in the middle, we dealt with it well. In the second-half, we were much better.”
[On only our second away win of the season] “It was really good and we needed a good run of games [with this being our second win on the spin] and especially going into lockdown. We need to take this into the FA Cup with will probably be our first game back and continue with this momentum” said Smith.
“In the current climate, every win is important, especially if the season is decided on points-per-game so we need to get as many wins as we can” Porters added.
[On keeping momentum throughout the enforced break] “We will be doing a lot of strength and conditioning over Zoom but we are a tight-knit group anyways and we are like a big family so we will keep each other pumped and positive. Individually, we will ensure we are ready for whenever the season will resume” explained Davina.
Porter added, “I’ve only just came in but already it seems like we have a good group of girls, we will all keep in contact and will keep fit so we ready!”