RUSSELL Dodd labelled Worcester City substitute Jordan Harrison a “game changer” after the forward made a goal-scoring impact to nick a point against his Highgate United side in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at the Victoria Ground.
The Gate were two goals to the good after 17 minutes, thanks to a debut strike from Edilson Panzo-Antonio inside the opening 60 seconds, before Stuart Hendrie doubled the lead with a deft lob moments later.
But a second-half fightback instigated by Harrison, whose goal halved the deficit in the 69th minute, led to former United man Marco Adaggio levelling the scores nine minutes later.
Despite the disappointment of a two-goal lead being blown, the Highgate manager could still view positives in a result which sees his side sit in 13th place in the Midland Football League Premier Division.
“Our first-half performance more than matched that of last Saturday’s win over Sporting Khalsa,” Dodd said.
“We fully deserved to go in at the break on the back of a two-goal cushion, especially against a team in a rich vein of form.
“But then our own form is currently good, remaining unbeaten now in our last five league outings and proving ourselves to be more than a match for any team in this division.
“Saturday was always going to be difficult but we adapted well to a heavy pitch and fully deserved to score twice in the very early stages.”
Dodd believes he could envisage a shift in the balance of the game at half time, adding: “We knew going into the break that City would raise their game and so it was to be with substitute Jordan Harrison proving a second-half game changer.
“Overall, I felt we could have come away with a win, but that was also the opinion of their gaffer, so perhaps we must be satisfied with the point and go into our next game against Coventry Sphinx in a positive frame of mind.”
In the second meeting between the two clubs this season, following September’s 2-0 FA Vase defeat to the Blues, a minor bout of injuries afforded a debut to recent Coleshill Town signing Panzo-Antonio.
The 23-year-old was on hand to fire home from Isaac Jagroop’s lay off to give Highgate a dream start, with Hendrie bolstering the lead further after lobbing the ball over the onrushing Worcester goalkeeper Daniel Jezeph.
A first save was made by James Beeson down the other end as the hosts searched for an immediate response, but the Gate custodian was equal to Liam Lockett’s attempt, keeping the ball out with his foot.
Highgate should have been out of sight, but for a miraculous save by the boot of Jezeph to deny Seegue Sebbeh Njie late in the half with Worcester on the ropes.
The introduction of Harrison worked wonders for Ashley Vincent’s men, with the forward’s strike prompting a late surge of pressure from the hosts on Highgate’s goal.
That pressure eventually told when Adaggio punished his former side by tapping in from close range 12 minutes from time.
With both Aaron Brown and Hendrie sin-binned for the remainder of the game, the nine men of Highgate stood tall and defended in numbers to see out a point away from home.
Highgate host Coventry Sphinx on Saturday (3pm), before rounding off 2019 with a trip to Racing Club Warwick on Boxing Day (Thursday, 3pm) and the reverse fixture with Worcester City at The Coppice on Saturday December 28 (3pm).