1s dumped out of Dunn Cup by First Division Malvernians
- October 31st 2020, Brunel University Sports Park, 12pm
- Arthur Dunn Cup
- Referee: Chris Rigler
- Weather: Heavy rain, windy
- Pitch: Astroturf
|No.||Starting XI||Goals||Yellow & Red Cards||Subs On/Off|
|1||Fraser McGuinness (c)|
|8||Cyprian Owen Edmunds|
The OHAFC 1st XI’s season of woe continued on Saturday afternoon as they were dumped out of the Arthur Dunn Cup at the first time of asking by the Old Malvernians, the Division One side winning 2-0 in the wind and rain on the Brunel University Sports Park astroturf. Despite enjoying spells in the ascendency in both halves, the visitors were undone in the space of five first-half minutes courtesy of a disputed penalty decision that went against them and a fluke shot from out wide that sailed into the far top corner. The result leaves the Blues with a long struggle ahead to secure their Premier Division status once amateur sport can resume following the latest lockdown.
Skipper Fraser McGuinness named a strong starting eleven for the fixture, albeit shorn of leading striker James Tippett, illness preventing him from playing. This forced Chester Robinson into an unfamiliar role at the head of the attack, supported by Chris Abdo on the left and Cyprian Owen Edmunds on the right. Ed Poulter and Ed Beecham provided a rock-solid base in midfield with Dan Firoozan floating behind Robinson and charged with supplying the creative fulcrum for the team. A strong back four included the two Barrett brothers, Jonny Lalude and Jamie Jordache, although with only Jack Hill on the bench, attacking reserves were non-existent. Nevertheless, despite the appalling conditions of driving rain and a strong wind, the Blues travelled optimistically to face a Malvern side that had won only two of their six League fixtures in Division One to date. Eight previous League meetings between the sides since 2009 had also provided six Harrow wins, further cause for optimism heading into the game.
Initially, the visitors started brightly on the astro, stringing passes together across the back four and into midfield, although, as has so often been the case this season, finding men further forwards proved more troublesome. A lack of movement and dynamism in the attack meant that the Malvernian defence were rarely troubled, although the hosts, too, looked shorn of inspiration and McGuinness had little to worry about in the Harrow goal.
That was until just before the half-hour mark when almost from nowhere, a driving run through the middle of the pitch by the Malvernian skipper carried him past a couple of challenges and into the box. Kyle Barrett came across to cover and slid in, taking ball and man together. Referee Chris Rigler deliberated before pointing to the spot and the visitors found themselves a goal behind against the run of play.
Worse was to come barely five minutes later as the Malvern left-back was afforded far too much time out wide to deliver a cross towards the back post, only for the ball to arrow straight into the far top corner via the underside of the bar and then the post, McGuinness powerless to alter the trajectory of the ball.
Desperate times called for desperate measures and Chris Abdo was sent up top, Chester Robinson dropping into his favoured midfield role, Firoozan moving to the right. The Blues pressed forwards in a bid to pull a goal back before the break and they looked threatening from set-pieces, Chris Abdo also firing in a shot that required a decent save from the Malvern keeper. But in truth there was little cause for alarm for the hosts and they went into the break with their two-goal lead intact. The second half began much as the first half had ended, with the OHAFC on top but failing to hurt their opponents. Ed Beecham was sent further forwards and he caused plenty of problems for the hosts, as did Harrow’s high pressing tactics that saw them win back possession in plenty of dangerous areas. And this appeared to be the route back into the tie as golden opportunity to halve the deficit arrived courtesy of a foul on Dan Firoozan inside the box. With some deliberation as to who should take the spot-kick, Cyprian Owen Edmunds stepped forwards but managed to blast the ball over the bar and the Malvernians were off the hook.
Harrow’s task then became even harder when substitute Jack Hill, who had only been on the field for ten minutes, felt his hamstring go and, with no rolling subs allowed in the Dunn, the visitors were forced to play out the final half-hour with just ten men. Unsurprisingly, they struggled to force many openings, a couple of efforts ruled out for offside by the match official aside.
So a rather tame exit from the Dunn for the OHAFC, who must now prime themselves for the considerable challenge of maintaining their Premier Division status. Things are not running for the 1st XI at the moment, perhaps a bit of a break is exactly what the team needs right now.