3s fight back to earn valuable point against newcomers
- November 23rd 2019, Hampton Sports Centre (3G), 2pm
- Division 4
- Referee: AL appointed
- Weather: Drizzle
- Pitch: Astroturf
|No.||Starting XI||Goals||Yellow & Red Cards||Subs On/Off|
|8||Muhammad Shah (c)||35'|
The OHAFC 3rd XI produced a stirring late fightback to recover from 3-1 down and snatch a late point away to the Old King’s Scholars in a first ever meeting between the two clubs. Trailing 2-0 and 3-1 prior to the break, the visitors continued to fight hard in the second half and were rewarded for their efforts when goals from Ade Omisore and Adam Graham in the final twenty minutes ensured a 3-3 draw. The Blues stay sixth in Division Four, maintaining a four-point gap to their opponents in eighth.
With Ed Nicholson missing his first game in a month, Mo Shah was tasked with captaining the side for the first time in his fledgling OHAFC career, having shown excellent form in his recent performances. And thanks to the continuing tireless work behind the scenes of Harry Woolley, the 3s were able to travel with a healthy squad of thirteen, including debutant Freddie Falcon, who began his OHAFC career on the bench alongside youngster Cameron Mahal.
Disappointingly, given the rather cold, gloomy conditions, the kick-off was delayed ten minutes due to the King’s Scholars skipper temporarily misplacing his team’s kit. Once play did get underway, it was the hosts who made the better start, playing with a cohesiveness that the visitors struggled to match – understandably given the youthful, inexperienced make-up of the side.
King’s struck twice in the opening half-hour, both times taking advantage of some hesitancy in the Harrow rearguard: the first arrived after just ten minutes, some confusion ensuing in the Harrow back four, and the second, after twenty-five minutes, following an unsuccessful attempt to hold a high line and catch the Kings’ forwards offside.
Fortunately, however, an almost immediate reply from the 3s skipper restored hope to the visitors. Receiving a pass from James Monroe, Shah looked up and fired a superb strike into the top right corner from just outside the box to the delight of his teammates, the ball perhaps taking a slight deflection on its way past the stranded Kings keeper.
The reprieve proved rather short-lived however, as a clumsy challenge from midfield workhorse Dan Abu presented the hosts with a golden opportunity to restore the two-goal lead from the penalty spot. The initial effort fizzed past Tom Mitchell in the Harrow goal but crashed back off the crossbar and was turned back in by a Kings player following up.
Strong words of encouragement were needed at the break and Shah rallied the troops, switching a few players around into different positions and introducing Falcon off the bench for his debut.
The second half proved a competitive affair with both sides well aware of the importance of the next goal. Mitchell remained busy in the Harrow goal but, as expected, produced some excellent saves and kept the visitors just about in the game.
With twenty minutes remaining, the Blues finally found the goal their efforts had deserved, Ade Omisore managing to turn in an Adam Graham set-piece from close range, the Kings goalkeeper unable to react in time.
The goal galvanised the visitors and the closing minutes saw both sides frantically pour forwards in an effort to ensure a positive result. Shah made good use of his substitutes, regularly rotating to ensure the eleven on the pitch remained as fresh as possible.
And with just seven minutes remaining the visitors were rewarded for their perseverance, Adam Graham finishing from a corner the hosts failed to clear and the Blues held on to secure a potentially valuable point come the end of the season.
Another determined display from the OHAFC 3s, well led by Mo Shah in his first game as skipper and featuring valuable contributions from a number of players, including the debutant Falcon, who acquitted himself well at right-back even though that is far from his preferred position.
The squad will need to be at their best next weekend, too, with the visit of League leaders the Old Kimboltonians to the Hill. They will be smarting having just suffered their first defeat of the season, the Blues keen for revenge following a 4-0 reverse in the away fixture just a fortnight ago.
*Thanks to Mo Shah & Harry Woolley for their assistance with this report