Joe Hardy scored twice as Brentford B beat Harrow Borough to win the Middlesex FA Senior Challenge Cup. The young Brentford side had to wait until the hour mark to turn their dominance in to the opening goal, which Hardy slotted home after a Theo Archibald shot had been saved. And when the striker scored again with six minutes remaining, the game was won. Frederik Hammar added a third moments later to ensure there would be no late fight back and The Bees would get their hands on the trophy. Gustav Mogensen scored a fourth to put a, perhaps unjust, gloss on the score line.
There was little doubt that The Bees deserved their win, even if the late goals did not seem truly fair on Harrow, particularly their overworked goalkeeper Gary Ross. But the young Brentford side eventually broke their part-time opponents down. The sheer weight of chances told in the end and The Bees turned their attacking play in to goals in the later stages to see off the Evo-Stick Premier Division South side.
The Bees could have gone ahead inside the first 20 seconds when David Titov got away on the right and delivered a cross that was met by Hardy, but he failed to get enough on it to unduly trouble Ross. And that early chance set the tone for the match. One the young Brentford side got in to their stride they dominated completely, forcing Harrow back and creating a series of good chances.
Many of those chances came and went in the first 35 minutes and The Bees created enough in that period alone to win two games. Ross saved a long-range effort from Hardy and then got down well to his left to deny the marauding Cole Dasilva, up from left back. The resulting corner was half cleared, Jarvis Edobor saw a shot saved and Ross then rushed out to save at the feet of Hammar.
Dasilva had a shot blocked and then lofted a pass in behind for Hardy, the striker battled his way on to the ball but his shot failed to beat Ross. The Bees then wasted a golden chance when they broke from a corner as Harrow’s attempts to make the most of a second ball came to nothing. Titov drove in to space on the right but with three or four team mates to pick out and only one defender back, his cross sailed harmlessly in to the arms of Ross.
Archibald saw a shot blocked and the resulting corner was nodded back by Edobor, but Luka Racic diverted it wide. Racic then turned provider with a ball over the top but Ali Coote’s attempted lob over Ross was too high. Hammar had another chance soon after when a deflected Titov cross reached him eight yards out but he could not get over it and nodded off target.
Harrow had offered almost nothing in an attacking sense for the first half hour. They appeared to be giving The Bees a little too much respect and as the game went on and the challenges started to be a bit more meaningful, they grew in to the contest. And, arguably, they could have gone in at half time ahead.
Frank Keita, playing just behind striker Ryan Moss, was the man most likely to create for Harrow and he had a few good chances to get the first goal of the evening. When Michael Bryan robbed Dasilva, Moss stood up a cross that Keita beat Patrik Gunnarsson to, but he headed wide with the goal gaping. Gunnarsson then saved from Keita when a low shot came in from 18 yards and a free kick from Lewis Cole beat everyone in the middle, including the diving Brentford goalkeeper, and bounced just past the far post.
The best chance of the first half for Harrow fell to striker Moss. Keita found a pocket of space and lifted in a cross that found Moss six-yards out but he was unable to find the net. That was a fortunate escape for The Bees, who had created enough to lead at half time but had too often been unable to get the final ball right. Archibald fired narrowly wide from distance at the end of the half but it was an opening period of missed opportunities and when the last or penultimate pass needed to be better.
The opening minutes of the second half offered a repeat of the opening 45 minutes in miniature form. Brentford created some golden chances but did not take them and were very nearly punished by Harrow on the counter-attack. And even when Hardy did get the ball in the net, the goal was ruled out.
The disallowed goal came after Coote had missed a golden chance. He picked the ball up on the left and weaved in to the box, past three men before firing in a shot from 12 yards that was too close to Ross. The goalkeeper kept the effort out and when Hardy fired home, he was adjudged to be offside. There was an even better chance seconds later when Hardy got on to a ball in the box and it broke to Archibald, the square ball took Ross out of the game and Hardy looked set to tap in but Shaun Preddie was in the right place to block.
Hardy also turned a low cross wide and Dasilva was just unable to reach and Oksanen free kick but Harrow also had their chance. Keita was the architect again with a fine pass that released Anthony O’Connor in the inside left channel, he only had Gunnarsson to beat but poked it past the far post. And that proved to be a crucial miss as Brentford finally broke the deadlock moments later.
It was a goal that had been coming and could have arrived just before when Dasilva burst clear on the left and delivered a cross that just eluded Archibald arriving at the far post. But moments later, the goal came. Coote made a dart forward and fed Archibald, the powerful low shot was well saved by Ross with his feet but the ball broke and Hardy fired home.
The Harrow goalkeeper had no chance with the goal and was finally beaten but his work in the moments that followed kept his team in the game. He made a fine save to deny Archibald after Hardy had got between defenders and laid the ball off and then got down well to his right to keep out a Coote shot when the ball had been recycled. A header from Edobor from the resulting corner was then cleared by an increasingly stretched Harrow defence.
But once again when Brentford looked in complete control, Harrow almost made them pay for failing to turn their chances in to goals. O’Connor worked his way to the edge of the penalty area and fed Keita to his right, the low shot was bending in to the bottom corner but Gunnarsson got down low to save. That was, however, as close as Harrow came to upsetting the odds and drawing level as The Bees moved through the gears in the later stages.
The second goal came with six minutes to go and was clinically finished by Hardy. Coote found space and picked out a pass and Hardy got between the centre halves before finishing low past Ross. Hardy was withdrawn soon after, having already done enough to win the Man of the Match award, but his replacement Mogensen had similar joy in the dying moments.
An Archibald pass allowed Mogensen to run clear and he could have finished past Ross but instead chose to square it unselfishly for Hammar to tap home. When Archibald played another pass soon after it was Coote that beat the offside trap this time with a curved run. Again, the square, unselfish, pass was played and Mogensen tapped it in to make it four.
The late goals may have been a bit harsh on Harrow, who were chasing the game and left themselves open. There was still time for a Kolbeinn Finnsson pass to put Mogensen in again but this time Ross saved. For all the goalkeeper’s efforts, however, he could not stop Brentford B taking the trophy.
Brentford B: Gunnarsson; Titov, Racic (sub Mitchell 63 mins), Edobor, Dasilva; Hammar, Oksanen, Coote; Archibald, Hardy (sub Mogensen 86 mins), Žambůrek (sub Finnsson 71 mins)
Subs (not used): Andersson, Brissett
Bookings: Coote (64 mins), Archibald (77 mins)
Harrow Borough: Ross; Andrew, Oseni, Preddie, Haugh; McLeod (sub Ireland 68 mins), Cole (sub Muhemba 78 mins); O’Connor (sub Bitmead 82 mins), Keita, Bryan; Moss
Subs (not used): Fenton, Holland
Bookings: Cole (74 mins)