Goals in each half by Jordan Lee and Matt Oldring, both courtesy of Luke Burbidge assists, a goalkeeping master-class by Gerard Benfield, and a determined, dogged display by Matty’s magnificent men secured a vital three points on Wimborne’s first ever visit to the Rogers Family Stadium. The victory vindicated manager Matty Holmes’ decision to prioritise this league game over Tuesday’s Dorset Senior Cup final.
Having gained just one point from the last seven league games, and without the injured Franklyn Clarke, Holmes opted for a back three of Sam Davidson, skipper Billy Maybury, and Oldring, with Lee and Stefan Penny wide in midfield.
On a good-looking, grassy surface, Wimborne had the better of the opening quarter hour, without seriously threatening the home goal. Toby Holmes was twice offside in the first five minutes as the visitors showed their intent, Luke Holmes had a shot blocked, and a slick one-touch move was stopped at the edge of the penalty area.
Then Harrow got a foot-hold in the game, and dominated possession for the next quarter hour. Cole volleyed just wide on 18 minutes, before Benfield made a reaction, point-blank, one-on-one save from O’Connor on 20 minutes, and Oldring nicked the ball off a red shirt at the far post. On 27 minutes Moss hit the base of Benfield’s left-hand post after a first shot was blocked, and Moore’s low shot was safely gathered by the big stopper.
As the pressure on Benfield’s goal increased, Wimborne mounted an attack down the left on 31 minutes. The two Lukes combined before Burbidge scampered along the by-line. Toby made a decoy run in the centre allowing Burbidge to cut the ball back to Lee. His first shot hit the post, but he followed up to score from the rebound.
Play flowed from end-to-end. James Stokoe and Carl Pettefer made lung-bursting efforts to race back and clear, Penny headed a dangerous ball away, Davidson made a vital interception, and Moore’s effort from a free-kick was only inches wide. Davidson played a perfect through ball for Toby down the inside-right channel before the striker was out-muscled by Pepera.
Harrow started the second period seeking an equaliser. Benfield made a diving save on 47 minutes, and Penny conceded a corner at the far post before Lee Francis replaced the struggling Stokoe. Toby tried an audacious lob over home keeper Al-Droubi from distance, but that was a brief respite for the visiting defence. On the hour mark Maybury headed off the line, Bryan’s cross to the far post was put wide by Cole, Benfield made a terrific catch under pressure from a corner, and another Bryan cross was headed clear.
Then, on 69 minutes, Wimborne grabbed that vital second goal. Oldring met Burbidge’s right-wing corner with an unstoppable header. Two ahead, twenty minutes left, tension palpable.
The game became stretched as Harrow threw more men forward. A long throw on the right found Toby, but he was thwarted by the feet of Al-Droubi at the near post, before, coming in from the other wing, Francis forced the keeper to make a sprawling save. At the other end Benfield saved from substitute Muhemba’s volley, before, on 83 minutes, a stunning save with his left foot stopped a snap-shot by Moss.
As the clock ticked down, a rapid counter-attack led by Penny saw Toby pass across the goal area to a better-placed Burbidge, but under pressure his scuffed shot went agonisingly wide. Benfield made another brilliant save at the foot of his right-hand post, then clawed away a corner when surrounded by red shirts. Sam Bayston replaced the tiring Toby and kept the home defenders occupied. Referee Hillier-Smith indicated an additional four minutes, but there was no way Matty’s heroes were going to let these three points slip.
A terrific team effort which lifts the Magpies back to 16th. Three games left to secure our place in the Premier Division. Three games left to get behind the boys. Come on you Maggies!
Wimborne: Benfield, Lee, Maybury, Davidson, Oldring, Pettefer, Stokoe (Francis 51), L.Holmes, T.Holmes (Bayston 89), Burbidge, Penny. Unused subs: Collins, Shepherd, Owen
Report by Graham Dunn