Blues unlucky to slip to defeat at home to League leaders
- October 31st 2020, Philathletic Ground, 12pm
- Division 2
- Referee: George Patriche
- Weather: Rain, windy
- Pitch: Excellent
|No.||Starting XI||Goals||Yellow & Red Cards||Subs On/Off|
|4||Tom Ward (c)||85'|
Despite producing arguably their strongest performance of the season, the OHAFC 2nd XI were once again left empty-handed as a couple of unfortunate second-half goals saw them fall 2-0 at home to Division Two leaders the Old Carthusians 2s. In appalling conditions on the Hill, the Blues battled bravely against the wind in the first half, surviving unscathed to the break, albeit having seen their woodwork hit twice by Carthusian headers. The hosts began the second half well but the Carthusians scored from their first attack courtesy of a fluke effort that sailed high into the wind and over backpedalling keeper Kyri Pittalis. A highly contentious penalty ten minutes later gifted the visitors a second and they held on in the closing stages despite mounting OHAFC pressure.
It was tough luck on the OHAFC, who continue to battle hard in a bid to secure a first win of the season but must now face the prospect of entering another COVID lockdown with just four points from their first seven games of the season and a lengthy battle to maintain their Division Two status.
As was the case last week in the heavy loss to the Old Johnians, the Blues found themselves playing into a strong wind in the first half, against their wishes. This time, however, they managed to hold on to the break with their goal intact, battling hard to limit the visitors to several half-chances but little else. That was until a ten-minute spell midway through the half when the visitors forced numerous corners, all of which were delivered with venom towards the back post. Twice Carthusian heads connected with the ball, twice the woodwork came to Harrow’s rescue, the post saving the hosts on the first occasion, the crossbar on the second. Kyri Pittalis made one excellent save to deny a powerful shot to his left, but other than that there was little to alarm the Blues.
The hosts attacked with slightly more conviction than they have done in previous weeks, with Andres Hutchinson driving at the back four whenever he had the chance and several crosses from Tristan David on the left causing problems in the visitors’ box. The driving wind and rain inevitably made life tricky for both sides and the Carthusian keeper remained untested in the first forty-five minutes.
At half-time the Blues replaced David and Lederman with Charlie Stebbings and Jesse Duah, both players looking lively when they came on. The first quarter of an hour passed with little incident, the hosts enjoying greater territory and possession with the wind now behind them, but still unable to create the one clear chance they required.
But all the good work was undone in the space of ten minutes when the visitors broke upfield to snatch two hugely fortunate goals. Their first attack of the half saw the Carthusians raid down the left before crossing to the edge of the box. The midfielder’s shot looked harmless enough as it sailed high into the air, but as Pittalis frantically scrambled back towards his goal the sudden realisation dawned that the keeper may be in trouble. And so it proved, the ball dropping agonisingly under the crossbar and into the net.
Several minutes later the game turned with two incidents at either end of the pitch, both of which went against the OHAFC. A dreadful clearance from the Carthusian keeper smacked Charlie Stebbings square in the midriff on the edge of the box but the rebound ran just out of his despairing lunge and the visitors scrambled the ball clear with the goal gaping.
Moments later that wasted opportunity was proved even more costly when a Charterhouse through-ball drew Pittalis from his goal and, despite appearing to gather the ball cleanly under a challenge from a forward, George Patriche saw it differently, pointing to the spot and gifting the league leaders the chance to double their lead, a chance their duly took.
As the rain continued to lash down the hosts threw everything into the closing stages but they simply could not find a way past an increasingly frantic Carthusian defence. Duah drove into the box several times, both Hutchinson brothers tried their luck at goal and Ollie Curry delivered several set-pieces into the box. None of them came close to breaching the visitors’ goal.
The final whistle brought a mixture of emotions that have become all too familiar for the OHAFC 2s this season: satisfaction at another decent performance, disappointment at another defeat. There were some notable individual performances, with the back four of Monroe, Ward, Woolley and Callum Barrett all excelling, as did Jack Dolbey and Pablo Hutchinson further forwards. With the Carthusians sitting pretty at the top of the table, this performance at least offers hope that once football can resume following lockdown, the OHAFC will remain competitive in their remaining fixtures as they bid to climb up the table.