Walsh heroics earn 2s yet another 2-2 draw

Old Aldenhamians 1st XI
2 : 2
Old Harrovians 2nd XI
  • October 10th 2020, Aldenham School, 12pm
  • Division 2
  • Referee: Lee Turnbull
  • Weather: Cloudy
  • Pitch: Good
No. Starting XI Goals Yellow & Red Cards Subs On/Off
1 Charlie Walsh
2 Ed David
3 Tom Ward (c)
4 Doug Pratt
5 Jack Robinson 45'
6 Jack Dolbey 65'
7 Max Curry 75'
8 David Lederman 70'
9 Tristan David 71'
10 Andres Hutchinson 56' 75'
11 Pablo Hutchinson
12 Charlie Stebbings 45'
13 Edmund Massey 45'
14 Ed Stewart 60'

Eat. Sleep. Draw 2-2. Repeat.

It was a familiar story once more for the OHAFC 2nd XI on Saturday afternoon as for the third consecutive weekend they were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw in Division Two of the Arthurian League – their fourth draw in five games. Having scraped a point away to the Old Etonians a fortnight ago and thrown away a two-goal lead down in Kent last weekend against the Sennockians, this result against the Old Aldenhamians perhaps left the side unsure as to quite what their emotions should be.

The hosts, who had themselves won only a solitary fixture prior to this weekend, enjoyed the better of things for the majority of the game, but it was the OHAFC who twice led, courtesy of second half goals from Andres Hutchinson and Tristan David. But having been pegged back to 2-2 with just under ten minutes remaining, the Blues were indebted to keeper Charlie Walsh for ultimately holding onto their point courtesy of a superb penalty save in the 88th minute. Having travelled up from Bournemouth on the morning of the game, ‘Walshy’ made sure his journey had not been in vain, producing several fine saves to keep the visitors on terms before his dramatic late intervention, diving low to his left to palm away the penalty, Ed Massey completing the clearance.

The OHAFC continue to battle hard, with another workmanlike performance on the wide open pitch at Aldenham School and some notable individual efforts sufficient to claim another point. The hosts began the game fast, pinning the Blues back inside their own half for the majority of the opening twenty minutes, with Harrow’s passing rushed and wayward in contrast to their opponents, whose bright orange shirts buzzed around effervescently. The powerful striker saw two headed efforts narrowly fail to open the scoring, his first header clipped the top of the Harrow bar, the second looped over. Several corners were won but well defended by the men in blue, keen to avoid a repeat of the cheap goal conceded at Sennockians the previous week.

As the first half wore on however, the visitors gradually began to look more threatening, with Andres Hutchinson narrowly failing to sprint clear on a several occasions and, on the left, Tristan David delivering a couple of dangerous crosses, both just missing their intended targets. There was a worrying moment on the half-hour when Pablo Hutchinson went down clutching his ankle following a challenge but fortunately he was able to continue, his lung-busting ninety minutes of near non-stop running confirming his summer fitness regime had not been in vain, despite his triathlon having been cancelled.

Given the balance of play, the Blues were delighted to get to the break with the game still goalless. Aldenham had been the better side, but with the wind and slope now in their favour, there was the distinct impression the second half should prove easier to navigate than the first had been. Charlie Stebbings replaced Jack Dolbey, with Pablo Hutchinson moving back into midfield, Ed Massey coming on at left back in a straight swap for birthday boy Jack Robinson.

Whether or not it was complacency or something else, the visitors began the second half poorly. The Aldenhamians were again much sharper to the ball and poured forwards with some incisive passing and movement. They earned several corners and forced an excellent save from Walsh, who dived to his left to tip a shot around his far post. Once more, the Blues found it difficult to keep possession, with the front trio barely seeing the ball.

But after ten minutes of near-total Aldenham domination, it was the OHAFC who opened the scoring entirely against the run of play. Some excellent harrying in midfield saw the ball played forwards quickly to Charlie Stebbings and suddenly the Harrow front three were running at a retreating Aldenham defence. The Harrow striker bided his time before slipping the ball wide to Andres Hutchinson and once he’d steadied himself on his left foot there was only going to be one result, the ball nestling in the back of the net.

The lead lasted barely five minutes however, although again the goal came slightly against the run of play. Harrow pressure followed their goal, but when another threatening move broke down midway inside the Aldenham half, a long ball driven through the heart of the back four sent the lightning quick right-back in on goal. Doug Pratt was Harrow’s only hope as the ball fizzed through the air towards him on the halfway line, but it came too quickly and at such an awkward height that he couldn’t manage to get a touch on it. The Aldenhamian made no mistake, firing past Walsh at his near post and once more the sides were level.

Lederman was withdrawn as further Aldenham pressure mounted, Ed Stewart taking his place in midfield, but the tide was turning once more in the hosts’ favour and they looked the more likely side to grab the third goal, Walsh again proving adept as he flung himself to his right to turn another rather innocuous shot past his far post. The Blues were frustrated when a couple of handball appeals against the same Aldenham player went unheeded by referee Lee Turnbull, but they had every reason to thank the official when he waved play on moments later following what appeared a clear foul on an Aldenhamian midway inside the Harrow half. Instead, the visitors broke down the left at pace, Massey feeding Tristan David, and he then exchanged passes with Andy Hutchinson, Harrow’s scorer carrying the ball to the byline before picking out his teammate on the six yard box to apply a firm first-time finish high into the net.

Once more the OHAFC were back on top, but once more they were indebted to goalkeeper Walsh for keeping them there as he produced his finest save of the day, acrobatically executing a swift change of direction as a deflected header appeared destined to beat him, only for a strong right hand to somehow claw the ball back and away from danger, Doug Pratt helping scramble the ball clear.

It was typical of Harrow’s season that having seen their keeper produce several superb saves to maintain their lead, the hosts should once more level courtesy of nothing more than a hopeful cross. The ball was whipped in to a dangerous area from the Aldenham left, curling away from the Harrow defence and towards the far corner. With Walsh stuck on his line anticipating a touch from a forward, the ball bounced down and back up, nestling perfectly just inside the far post. There was little anyone in a blue shirt could have done.

And so, once more, the OHAFC found themselves heading for yet another 2-2 draw and yet another solitary point earned from a winning position. That they did so was only thanks to Walsh’s dramatic penalty save in the 88th minute. A diagonal ball sent the right-back racing through once more and initially it appeared as though Massey had the angle to intercept. But as the ball ran past him, the Aldenhamian collected and drove into the box. A tangle of legs ensued, both players fell to the turf and following a slight pause, the referee, who had been excellent throughout, blew for the foul. Thankfully, Walsh ensured it would be his name in lights when he correctly guessed which side the ball would be struck, diving low to his left to palm away a poorly-struck effort, Massey going some way to atoning for his error when he completed the clearance. The full-time whistle blew a couple of minutes later, neither side particularly in the mood to celebrate.

So further frustration for the OHAFC, that first win of the season remaining tantalisingly out of reach. The side continue to throw everything into their performances, that little bit of quality in the final third still lacking somewhat. The side now take a break from League action with an Old Boys Cup tie at home to the Old Owens 2s next weekend – hopefully the squad will remember how to get to the Philathletic Ground, their last fixture there was played on December 21st 2019…