Okoigun comes off the bench to earn Blues second win
- September 28th 2019, Philathletic Ground, 12pm
- Premier Division
- Referee: George Patriche
- Weather: Cloudy, breezy
- Pitch: Good
|No.||Starting XI||Goals||Yellow & Red Cards||Subs On/Off|
|1||Fraser McGuinness (c)|
|12||Mike Okoigun||70', 80'||55'|
Following a very difficult result against the Old Alleynians last weekend, the OHAFC 1st XI squad benefitted from a dynamic midweek training session ahead of their second home fixture of the season against the Old Foresters on Saturday.
Thankfully, availability was far better for this game, with the side welcoming Hamish McIntyre, Mike Okoigun and Jack Hill for their first appearances of the season, the latter two starting on the bench. There was also an OHAFC debut for powerful striker James Tippett, who had shown great promise in several pre-season friendlies and who was expected to ease some of the scoring burden from star striker James Breeden.
Skipper Fraser McGuinness called for a focused and determined approach from the first whistle, conscious of the need to banish any residual negativity from the Alleynians defeat. The sight of the Foresters goalkeeper arriving barely two minutes before kick-off provided a further boost to Harrow morale.
Deciding to play into the wind in the first half, the hosts began brightly, adopting a 4-4-1-1 formation, with top scorer James Breeden playing off the debutant James Tippett up front, Alex Gilbert on the left of midfield and Doug Morrison on the right, George Gould and Dan Firoozan in the middle.
Both sides had first-half chances, with Forest looking threatening from set-pieces, whilst Harrow broke well down the flanks. A bright spell just before the break saw the Blues in the ascendency, but they lacked the cutting edge necessary to trouble the opposition keeper and both sides had to be content going into half-time level at 0-0.
The hosts picked up where they had left off before the break, creating an early chance for James Breeden when a well-worked move down the right saw the ball drilled across the box and the striker fire his effort narrowly over the bar. It proved nothing more than a temporary reprieve for the visitors however, as moments later the same player gave the hosts the lead with a well-placed left-foot shot into the bottom corner, the keeper slow to react.
Mike Okoigun and Jack Hill were brought off the bench shortly afterwards, unfortunately for Hill his afternoon proved short-lived as he was forced off again barely five minutes later with an Achilles injury. But Okoigun had rather more of an impact and took the game away from the Foresters with two goals inside ten minutes.
First, a high press by the Harrow forwards allowed the striker to rob the dawdling Forest centre-half, carry the ball to the byline and slot home from a narrow angle, the keeper wrongly anticipating a cut back to several waiting attackers and being beaten at his near post to the frustration of his teammates.
At 2-0 up with twenty minutes left, Harrow looked good for the win, but they were quickly pegged back when a long ball over the top allowed the striker a free run on goal. McGuinness saved the initial shot with his leg, but the ball bounced free and straight into the path of the right winger, who guided a header in from the edge of the box.
The visitors pushed for an equaliser but were to be undone by an excellent Harrow move that initiated with a driving run by James Tippett, the ball being played wide to Alex Gilbert on the left. Gilbert squared to Okoigun, he played a one-two with Doug Morrison before producing an excellent finish to restore the Blues’ two-goal advantage.
Forest yet again pulled another goal back in the closing moments courtesy of another header from another long ball over the top, but the hosts held on comfortably enough to register their second consecutive home win this season and move up to fourth in the Premier Division table.
Another highly encouraging display from the Blues to consign the memories of the Alleynians defeat to the dustbin. The side are back on the road next weekend when they travel to face the Old Chigwellians, another side struggling towards the wrong end of the Premier Division.
*Thanks to Fraser McGuinness for his help with this report