Harlow regained top spot with a 3-1 home victory over Great Wakering Rovers after Needham Market’s game was postponed. Robbie Martin put the Essex side on their way stroking home after 9 minutes but the home side could not double their lead before the break. Fabion Simms scored his second in as many games after 62 minutes to give the Hawks some breathing space but Jay Nash gave Rovers a lifeline with 13 minutes left heading home Tom Ranger’s cross. Harlow responded almost instantly with Junior Dadson volleying home 2 minutes later for a debut goal to put Harlow top for the first time since November.
After a 2-1 New Year’s Day victory at Waltham Abbey, Harlow made only one change with Robbie Martin coming in for Shane Stamp. Rovers were off the back of a 4 match winning run before travelling to the Harlow Arena and named an unchanged 11 after a 3-0 win over Romford. The away side looked to combat the Hawks home record where they have not lost a league match this season and lined up 4-3-3 the same as their hosts. In an even opening period, it was Harlow who took the lead after just 9 minutes. Alex Read was found in the right channel, looked up and played Juinor Appiah in behind the Rovers defence, the winger pulled back to an unmarked Robbie Martin at the back post where to slot home. Rovers were looking to break quickly with numbers but the chances were falling to their hosts with Read, Simms and Martin all having chances to double the lead.
Harlow were continuing to leave themselves open to the break with Tony Jacob and Tom Ranger linking up well down the right but the latter fired wide. Joe Skeels could have drawn level for the away side but couldn’t connect to a free kick. Jay Nash had the best chance for Rovers after a quick free kick, Jacobs progressed up the right flank and crossed to the back post but Nash could only head wide from 7 yards. Harlow heeded the warning with Adam Seals pulling off a fine double save to prevent Appiah doubling the lead just before the interval.
With Danny Chapman anxious before the break, his nerves would have been increased early in the second half went Harlow had chance after chance to add to their lead but failed. First Read headed wide a Billy Jones cross then Appiah crossed but a Hawk failed to connect. Billy Jones continue to impress in midfield after his goal on New Years Day and nearly added to his tally but after beating two men could not beat Seals in the Rovers goal. Junior Dadson came on for Appiah for his second debut for the Hawks and was inches away from tapping home Read’s cross. Rovers were finding it difficult to contain Harlow’s attack with Dadson’s volley being deflected wide for a corner. But Harlow did double their lead from the resulting corner, the ball fell to Simms on the edge of the area and the defensive midfielder slotted home.
Leon Antoine also came on for Billy Jones after recently rejoined the club but Nash could have halved the deficit after heading a Jacob’s cross wide. Harlow were keen to add to their 2 goals with Read going close after connecting with a Layne Eadie cross and Antoine could have had a perfect start to his second spell at the club but dragged his shot wide of the mark. Rovers made it a tense last 13 minutes for Harlow after an unmarked Nash headed home Ranger’s left wing cross. Dadson responded instantly after a long ball fell to the wide man, he hit it first time on the volley and found the bottom corner to seal the three points. Harlow could have added more to their tally but found Seals in inspired form with Antoine, Read and Dadson all having shots saved but Harlow did regain top spot.
After picking up just 9 points from a possible 18 in November and December Needham Market close the gap and overtook the Essex side at the top but after 3 wins on the bounce it appears the Hawks form has come back at an important time. Needham have two games in hand in second but Harlow have the points putting the pressure right back on Needham. With another home game next week, Harlow can really put the pressure on with Needham having a tough trip to third place Brentwood next week. Will the Hawks be further ahead come next week.