3s run out of steam against Division Four leaders
- October 16th 2021, Philathletic Ground, 11am
- Division 4
- Referee: George Patriche
- Weather: Sunny, calm
- Pitch: Excellent
|No.||Starting XI||Goals||Yellow & Red Cards||Subs On/Off|
|1||Tom Mitchell (c)|
Despite an excellent performance that saw the OHAFC 3rd twice lead against Division Four leaders the Old Shirburnians, the Blues were eventually overcome and left the Hill having suffered a second League defeat of the season to their opponents, this time by a 4-2 scoreline. It was hard luck on a Harrow side missing skipper Ed Nicholson and fellow centre-back Felix Tritton, with first half goals from Freddie Everett and Khalil Baoku – his first in OHAFC colours – ultimately not enough against a strong Shirburnians 1st XI. The Blues remain fourth in the table, although the side have now played twice as many games as the sides around them.
Although this was nominally Shirburnians’ home game, a lack of pitches meant the fixture was switched to the Hill. The two sides met on the opening weekend of the season on the Harrow School astroturf, the Shirburnians collecting a hard-fought 1-0 win. This time, the pristine Phil pitches lay in wait, with the OHAFC playing with the slope towards the Alcock Pavilion in the first half.
Despite the absence of their inspirational skipper, the 3s started excellently, winning plenty of possession and feeding their wide players at every opportunity. Several half-chances were created and it took only seven minutes for the nominal visitors to open the scoring, Charlie Lupton playing in striker Freddie Everett through the middle and he made no mistake, beating the Shirburnians keeper with a fine finish for his opening goal of the season.
The Blues continued to dominate proceedings, but they were undone by a Shirburnians counter-attack when the ball was lost in midfield and played straight through the middle for the striker to latch onto. As he cut across the penalty area he was just caught by the boot of Adam Graham, tumbled to the floor and referee George Patriche pointed to the spot. The penalty gave Harrow skipper Tom Mitchell no chance and against the run of play the two sides were all square.
The 3s responded well to the setback, however, almost immediately re-establishing their dominance and forcing the Shirburnians onto the back foot. And they quickly retook the lead as well, Mikey Watford getting in behind his full-back, pulling the ball back for Charlie Dunn to cross for Khalil Baoku to fire into the far corner for his first ever OHAFC goal. He also became the eighth player to score for the 3s this season, with no player having scored in more than one game. Decide for yourself whether or not this is the sign of a successful side.
But once more the OHAFC were pegged back, somewhat carelessly in almost identical circumstances to the first goal conceded. Again possession was lost in midfield allowing the Shirburnians to break forwards, this time with a two on two. Remarkably, the same striker repeated his run across the penalty area and again he was tripped, this time debutant Henry Quinson the culprit. And again Mitchell was beaten from the spot, the Shirburnians scarcely believing their luck as they somehow went into half-time level at 2-2.
Despite their excellent opening forty-five minutes, it was not all sweetness and light for the Blues. Charlie Lupton was forced to remove himself from the action suffering with a suspected concussion and this required a shuffling of the pack. Joss Awdry took Lupton’s place in midfield, forcing a change to the back four, with several players now playing out of position. Mitchell warned his side to expect a strong Shirburnian push at the start of the half, with opposition now playing with the slight slope in their favour.
And the Harrow skipper was proved right as the Division Four leaders flew out of the traps, immediately putting the Blues under concerted pressure. Initially, the rejigged back four coped well, restricting the opposition to half-chances, all of which were spurned. But on the hour the dam finally broke, the Shirburnians striker running in behind Ollie Spray and firing a low shot perfectly into the far corner. Soon afterwards it was 4-2 and, to all intents and purposes, game over, a cross from the right not dealt with and again a low shot flew across goal, cannoning in off the far post.
A tiring OHAFC side did their best to force a way back into the match but the Shirburnians were in no mood to let their hard-earned lead slip and they saw out the remaining twenty minutes comfortably enough, restricting the Blues to a handful of half-chances at best.
Another frustrating afternoon for the 3s then, who once more showed they are capable of competing with every side in the division, just running out of steam on this occasion with injuries and fitness hampering their efforts in the second half. A good effort nonetheless from the fourteen players involved.