Charlie Stimson’s strike 2 minutes from time prevented Harlow from regaining top spot in the Ryman North Division. Needham Market’s victory on Monday night moved them ahead of the Essex club but Jamie Smith netted his 5th of the season to put Harlow in pole position to return to the summit before Stimson, son of Thurrock Manager Mark, prodded home after Dean Driscoll spilled a free kick.
Harlow made two changes from their 1-0 home win against Soham Town Rangers on Saturday with Luke Cuthbert and Robbie Martin replacing David Kendall and Jared Small. Thurrock were looking to bounce back from their 2-0 defeat to Cheshunt on Saturday. In a lively start Lewwis Spence went close for Thurrock with a header and Jamie Smith saw his shot saved after breaking from midfield. Harlow first real chance came after 22 minutes, Alex Read received a through ball but his goal bound shot was deflected wide. From the resulting corner, Shane Stamp worked a bit of space on the edge of the box but his right foot curling shot clipped the top of the Thurrock bar.
Thurrock were causing Harlow problems, attacking with numbers and creating danger with runners in behind. Stimson cut back for Spence but the midfielder could only head wide. Harlow could sense danger on their goal and nearly took the lead straight after. Stamp who was an outlet all night for Harlow, beat Greig Stewart whipping in a fantastic ball which Martin could only poke over. Thurrock continued to look a threat with Ross Wall’s physicality causing problems, after he was found by a lofted through ball by Stimson he was prevented by a recovering Cuthbert who conceded the corner. Just before the half time whistle went, the Hawks nearly took the lead, Stamp’s shot was parried by Andy Walker but Read could not connect with the rebound and the chance went begging.
After the break Harlow showed why they have been the team to beat this season with their free flowing football and took the lead 4 minutes after the restart. After a Thurrock attack, Stamp ran forward picking up Smith who continued towards the Thurrock box and the former Brighton midfielder cut back onto his left foot and beat Walker. Harlow nearly added a second 4 minutes later after a brilliant passing move saw Cowley have his near post shot parried for a corner. Harlow continued to play free flowing football with Eadie and Stamp creating chances down the left. An injury to Layne Eadie stopped the fast paced start to the second half but Thurrock went close to an equalizer after Wall’s header clipped the bar.
The home side were getting anxious about not killing the game off with Cowley going close after good interchange between Stamp and Read but Stimson was urging his players forward to get an equalizer. Wall went close but his shot was deflected wide however Thurrock finally got their reward when a high free kick was spilled by Driscoll right into the path of Charlie Stimson who prodded home the equalizer for his 6th goal in his last 5 games. Both sides look to press for a winner but the scores remained level.
All square at the Harlow Arena, where the Hawks remain unbeaten but relinquish their grasp on top spot with the draw. Harlow Manager Danny Chapman will be disappointed that his side failed to hold on to their lead but with the chances they created he will be hoping for that extra bit of quality to continue their form at the top. Mark Stimson will be the happier of the two managers with the character is players show more is to come from this Thurrock side. Both teams are in FA Cup action on Saturday in the first qualifying round with Harlow away at Grays and Thurrock at home to Welwyn Garden City.