Blues 1 Harlow Town 0
RYAN Henshaw’s tenth minute goal was enough to give Blues the Bostik League points, on Boxing Day.
It was no classic for the 687 crowd at the ProKit (UK) Stadium and the hosts were forced to hang on against a side who remain rooted in the relegation zone.
But while Harlow were guilty of missing several good chances, and home keeper Callum Kitscha was man-of-the-match, Stortford’s tenth league win of the campaign leaves them just outside the play-off zone on goal difference, sitting sixth in the table.
On-loan centre half Mark Haines went straight into the starting line-up with captain S Robbins dropping to the bench after picking up an injury in the warm-up before last week’s league cup win at Wingate & Finchley.
After a delay due to the referee being taken ill, Blues started well and what proved to be the winning goal came when Harlow failed to clear a corner and acting skipper Henshaw turned home Alfie Mason’s cross at the back post.
The pace of Mason and Ryan Charles caused the Harlow defence problems all afternoon, but Kitscha brought off the first of a series of good saves in the 26th minute when he dived to his left to keep out a good effort from Koranteng.
The lead should’ve doubled on the half hour mark when Charles hit the bar with a header and Jamie Cureton followed up, only to see his shot graze the hand of a visiting defender with the replacement referee waving away claims for a penalty.
Cureton again went close when he broke free in the area, but some good recovery work by Southend United youngster Bexon saw him go down low to save.
Kitscha was again in action to keep out a goalmouth scremble in the dying minutes of the first half, and Stortford’s hopes weren’t helped when Charles limped off at half-time to be replaced by Nick Brown.
Brown nearly doubled the lead on the hour mark, forcing a fantastic save from Bexon who then recovered to deny Cureton as the veteran striker looked set to pounce.
Kitscha remained the busiest man on the pitch as the Hawks looked for the equaliser but Brown sent Cureton through on goal, only to see Bexon again deny him.
Cureton had another chance to seal the victory when he fired just wide, but despite Harlow camping out in the Stortford box during the five minutes of added time the Blues hung on for only their second Boxing Day win since beating the Hawks 4-1 in 2001.
Blues: C Kitscha, B Sampayo, I Nkosi, H Kyprianou, M Haines (C Gregan 71), R Henshaw, J Renee, J Thomas (A Warman 68), J Cureton, R Charles (N Brown 46), A Mason. Unused subs: S Robbins & L Callander.