Tower Hamlets F.C. saw its early 2-0 lead disappear as Harlow Town came back to take the game in the London vs Essex clash.
Date – 04/11/23, KO. @15.00
Location – The Harlow Arena
Attendance – 322
Pitch Conditions – 4G, Wet.
Weather Conditions – Cloudy and windy.
On a wet and windy Saturday afternoon in CM19 referee Craig Wood blew the whistle on a modern-day classic in the Thurlow Nunn South Division in front of a rowdy crowd of 322 spectators.
The Tower Hamlets squad looked ready to rock before kick-off with a strong warmup led by 32-year-old player/manager Kiernan Hughes-Mason. The player/manager hybrid previously applied his trade at fellow East London club Millwall in his youth days, although he made only 2 appearances for the Lions. Hughes-Mason went on to achieve an impressive lower-league professional career, growing outside of London with teams such as Grimsby and Kettering on his resume, before settling down at the mighty Tower Hamlets.
With barely enough time for fans to let their tea cool down let alone make it to their seats, Tower Hamlets drew first blood in this London vs Essex clash. Tower Hamlets Number 9 – Connor French, found space down the right flank; using his physicality to hold off his man he picked out Soloman Asomah in the middle of the box. Fan favourite and this season’s top goalscorer, ‘Solly’ smashed it home from a matter of yards to bring his tally for the season to 15 in 16.
The next 30 minutes of the first half saw a good share of chances at either end of the pitch. Harlow looking the more comfortable on the ball, red number 9 Ishaq Ameen was causing all kinds of issues for the resolute Tower Hamlets backline. Captain and leader Junior Baker was clear on his instructions – sharing his knowledge from higher leagues following spells at Essex-based clubs Aveley and Grays with youngster Anton Barnett in left back.
A well-earned counterattack from Tower Hamlets saw David Igbuya link up with Soloman Asomah to make it 2-0 to the away side. Tower Hamlets were stealing the show with their compact shape, pace and physicality all over the pitch. Solly now on 16 for the season.
Get into the half without conceding was the message for Tower Hamlets players from the East London gaffer Kiernan Hughes-Mason. But this would not be the case, as the ball rebounded out to the edge of the box, finding the Harlow 6 who hit a low drive taking a deflection off youngster Anton Barnett to beat the wrong-footed Jordan Stansbury in the net.
1-2 at halftime, Tower Hamlets worried as Harlow gained momentum.
A plodding start to the second half for both teams surprised onlookers after the excitement of the end of the first period.
David Igbuya showed off his technical ability and opened up the field with some flair. His pinged pass found Solly whose quick feet confused the opposing right back. Solly’s signature byline drive finished with a left-footed shot across the goal destined for the bottom right corner, only for the post to deny it.
The Tower Hamlets pressure was flighty and not building momentum – as Harlow found a way to make the East London side pay for their wasted chances. Harlow Town number 18 Kyrell Palmer smashed home after a great cross from right-back Alex Luque. A scrappy goal to equalise as the floodlights turned on at The Harlow Arena. Tower Hamlets had been pegged back, it was 2-2 with 20 minutes left on the referee’s stopwatch.
An altercation not long after the goal involving a lot of pushing and shoving saw the two 6’s see red as tempers rose. Both teams were down to 10 men.
After a series of reinforcements for both teams following the red cards, Harlow established their dominance in the game, pressing for the win. Tower Hamlets let their 2-0 lead look a distant memory.
The inevitable had struck, in the 80th minute Harlow Town took the lead. A sloppy free kick out wide was given. A whipped low drive saw the man causing all the problems for Harlow – Ishaq Ameen – smash home from a close distance. Stansbury had no chance.
The dream start for Hughes-Masons lads did not last the test of time – It was a cruel defeat to take after hoping to make it 3 games unbeaten.
A derby day midweek versus Clapton Community on Wednesday 8 November will prove to be the real test of character for the East London club who are looking to rise up the league. From what I saw, they have all the ability to take the win on Wednesday night.
Words by Toby Bethell.
For more football content, find our photoessay of Bow’s Vicky Park Rangers.
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