Confidence is growing down at the Lodge that the team taking the field has something very much about it. For the second time, on Saturday, manager Hakan Hayrettin was in the happy situation of having selection problems due to maximum availability of players. He chose to bring back Tero Karhu after injury and continue with Carlos Brown in midfield. Brown is appearing to be a revelation in this position and Karhu’s skill and vision supplies both defensive strength and attacking possibilities.
The Stags went on the attack from the start and soon won a couple of corners but Harlow soon gathered themselves together to give Danny Boateng a chance on goal which he made nothing of. In reality that was to be the last real chance of the match for Harlow as Stags’ ‘keeper Ameka Eneke only had one more thing to do in the whole match and that was to tip a shot come cross over the bar deep in the second half.
Forest began to press the game into the Harlow half but found the same problem as they often give to teams i.e. with little space behind the opposing defence it is difficult to create chances. The Stags’ first chance came on thirteen minutes when Kanyuka met a neat right wing cross and headed towards ‘keeper Glen Jackson who made a good save diving low to is left.
With Forest pressing, Harlow were finding it difficult to get out of their own half, every time one of their players got the ball he would find two Stags on him forcing a mistake or a quick ineffective pass.
On thirty minutes Forest should have taken the lead when Karhu put an excellent ball through to Kanyuka on the right, he coursed up the right wing then cut the ball over to Cooper in the centre but his shot missed the crossbar by some way. Then on 32 minutes another chance came and went when the Stags created probably the best move of the match. Brown won the ball in front of his own defence and threaded a lovely ball to Clarke, whose quick thinking got the ball out to Kanyuka, he passed back to Clarke and h, in turn, back out to Kanyuka who shot with three Stags waiting to clear up any loose ball. However, Hawks defender Kevin Warren was in the centre to hack wildly at the ball and end it just over his own crossbar.
Brown was involved yet again on 44 minutes when he fed Kanyuka out of midfield and he bore down on the Harlow goal, changed control of the ball to his left foot and shot only to see Jackson make another good save. From the resultant corner, another chance went begging as the flight of the ball missed defenders and attackers alike.
The second half had a different complexion with Harlow taking their turn to force up field but, inevitably it was their undoing as space materialised behind their defence. It was not long before the space was exploited and then profited from.
Right on the hour Brown sent the ball out of defence once again to Paul Armand who angled the ball through the defence for Cooper to run onto. Jackson came to the edge of the area to clear the ball but completely missed at and Cooper gratefully recuperated the loose ball to round the keeper and roll the ball into the net from 15 yards.
Forest began to see the possibilities as their midfield opened the home defence with accurate passes through to Cooper. On more than a couple of occasions he could have increased the Stags’ lead but twice missed the left upright by inches.
Harlow tried to make a game of it but with the Stags defence and midfield in such fine form they rarely made any impact until the final minutes when the won a corner which was easily collected by Eneke.
All in all a very satisfying display by the Stags in terms of disciplined and effective defending with some really eye catching football from midfield and attack.