2s earn first win of the season to progress in the JLC
- December 12th 2020, Philathletic Ground, 12pm
- Junior League Cup
- Referee: Peter Dace
- Weather: Cloudy, breezy
- Pitch: Good
|No.||Starting XI||Goals||Yellow & Red Cards||Subs On/Off|
|4||Tom Ward (c)|
A depleted OHAFC 2nd XI earned their first win of the season on Saturday, in the process sealing their passage into the second round of the Junior League Cup. Whilst the 3-2 win over Division Three strugglers the Old Suttonians was far from convincing, there were glimpses of quality from the hosts, especially in a free-flowing first half that saw both sides threaten on numerous occasions. But this game will undoubtedly be remembered for a single moment, midway through the second half, when goalkeeper Charlie Walsh produced one of the finest saves ever seen in OHAFC history, flinging himself across goal to turn a Suttonian shot onto the post with the visitors preparing to celebrate.
A combination of injuries and several self-imposed COVID quarantines had deprived skipper Geoff Taunton-Collins of numerous 2s regulars, leaving the Blues with just a bare eleven for this first game back following the November lockdown. Nevertheless, those available formed a strong-looking, well-balanced side, with Calum Butler earning a full debut at left-back, the Curry brothers joining Pablo Hutchinson in centre midfield and Gbeminiyi Soyinka looking to add to his mountainous haul of Junior League Cup goals with another start up front.
Whilst the Phil pitches were not quite in the supreme condition they had been a week earlier, conditions on the Hill were nonetheless excellent for playing football, with a gentle breeze blowing across the ground and no low winter sun to distract defences.
The first half duly delivered forty-five minutes of entertaining end-to-end action, with the hosts firmly in the ascendancy, but looking vulnerable to swift Suttonian counter-attacks. Perhaps for the first time this season, unsurprisingly given the additional time on the ball the Division Three side afforded them, the Blues passed the ball with authority and purpose, creating numerous opportunities to open the scoring. All that was lacking was the final cross or shot. Fortunately, a driving run from Ollie Curry shortly before half-time carried him to the byline and allowed him to pull the ball back for older brother Max to tap in from close range.
The second half began well for the hosts and they continued to work the ball well inside the Suttonians' half. However, as the wind began to gust, the game turned scrappy, the visitors sensing that all was not lost in their quest to cause an upset. Fortunately, Gbeminiyi Soyinka popped up to head home an Ollie Curry corner from close range and at 2-0 up, the Blues looked comfortable.
But the closing twenty minutes proved more troublesome than they should have done, with the OHAFC unable to maintain possession for any length of time. Suttonians hit back when some dithering on the edge of the Harrow box saw the visitors steal possession and fire past Walsh. And an increasingly nervy cup tie then saw both sides hit the crossbar within a minute of each other before the Harrow keeper pulled off his superb save, diving to his left to palm a shot onto the post before scrambling behind for a corner.
The hosts then enjoyed the benefit of a couple of tight penalty calls from referee Peter Dace, who awarded Harrow a spot-kick at one end for a shove on Soyinka - Lederman duly converting - before denying what looked an even stronger shout for the Suttonians at the other end, Ed David lunging in as the left winger drove past him. The right-back just managed to get a toe on the ball and the match official deliberated before awarding a corner, much to Harrovian relief.
With their two-goal lead in tact, the hosts held on in the gathering gloom to earn their place in the last sixteen, although their round two opponents are not yet known. An encouraging start back into action for the Blues, who now face the Old Radleians in their final League fixture of what has proved a rather tricky 2020 on and off the pitch.