From the kick-off you could tell Harlow were here to take the game to Canvey, seeing their league position before the match you can see why.
Canvey eventually settled but weren't allowed to play their passing style of football and had to resort to long balls from defence, into a lightweight midfield that were (legitimately) bullied off the ball many times with next to nothing making it to the feet of our forwards.
This carried on for 90 minutes and Canvey looking like they were lacking basic ball skills put themselves under pressure by failing to get their clearances to a yellow shirt or going for the second balls.
Harlow had more fight and desire to make an impact on the game than Canvey. That's not to say Canvey didn't have any because when they played it on the floor they looked good. Tarkan and Ainsley in bringing the ball forward from their full-back positions more often that not beat their man, however rather than delivering the ball deep into the opposing penalty area they would square to either Dobinson, Edwards or Fanibuyan and the momentum was lost as by the time Harlow had managed to get enough men behind the ball. Edwards and Dobinson did the simple stuff well - Putting balls out to the wings, which often worked or attempting a defence splitting pass to Curran or Antoine, which usually didn't. The Leons showed good passing and movement on and off the ball to create some great build-up play. Antoine dropping back to play deep and feed Curran, he was a beast in the air too. Gordon's crosses always looked dangerous and he switched sides well with Fanibuyan to really get stuck in. Canvey though were lacking the killer instinct up front, their Goalkeeper only had one point-blank range shot to save late in the first half and wasn't troubled at all after the interval.
For the first half I think Canvey were greatful that the Harlow strike-force were also lacking as they could've found themselves easily 2-0 down before Harlow's first goal eventually did come from an all too common Goalkeeper error.
Harlow's second was also a negative reminiscence from sloppy goals conceeded by indecisiveness. Their third was payback for the luck Canvey rid in the first-half, when yet another poor clearance from the defence landed straight at the feet of the Harlow player and with luck this time on his side, buried the ball in the back of the net - quality goal!
By this time and with the Harlow fans partying to the chant of "6-0" following the mirrored scoreline in the reverse fixture this season it looked like Canvey would be on the receiving end of another 'Margate scoreline', minus the conditions and even another powercut would have no relevance on a bright Saturday afternoon.
If proof were ever needed that Canvey fans were becoming disheartened by the fact their team have won just 11 points from 16 games it came with the lack celebration for what would be Leon Gordon's consolatory notch on the score-sheet, resembling more of a soft applause for a pre-season strike. There became a belief that after 70 minutes Canvey could grab something from this. There may have been a hint of wishful thinking too, seeing as Harlow had already played a competitive match the previous Thursday night. Again it was a similar story in that Canvey waited till the final twenty minutes to show what they can be really capable of.
Leon Antoine had the ball in the back of the net, but it was ruled out due to Jay Curran being judged to have followed through on the Goalkeeper going for a 50/50 ball. The Referee also denied Canvey a blantant penalty, turning away the protests of the players and fans for handball...twice! Richard Halle also had the ball in the net, however his blatant handball was witnessed by nearly everyone in the ground and he got a yellow card as the result of that. Harlow had a Striker sent off for what I assume was dissent, his second yellow after lashing out at Tarkan Mustafa early in the first half.
Off the pitch, I have never seen the bus shelter usually frequented by the Yellow Army so empty as I did towards the end of this match. A good following from Harlow complete with infamous air-raid/police sirens, that on past occasions would've bolstered the attendance closer to the 400 mark, however on this occasion it was barely 300.
For the majority of the game I thought the two teams on the pitch were very fairly matched, but individual mistakes are proving costly at both ends of the pitch. With only seven games remaining for the Gulls every point counts as only 8 points seperate 8th from 19th - Great competiton for an observer, but major "squeaky bum time" for everyone involved!
Now this post may seem rather negative but it doesn't intend to be harsh on anyone in particular as there were times Canvey played their 'sexy football'. The Club's first season in the Ryman Premier and it would take a colossal disaster for the team to get relegated, however I honestly think the Play-Off chances were dead and buried before receiving the Margate thrashing.
What I personally would like to see in these last few games is those Reserves who are inevitably going to be promoted into the First Team next season given a chance to show the fans what they're made of.