- October 30th 2021, Brentwood School, 12:45pm
- Arthur Dunn Cup
- Referee: David Lazarus
- Weather: Sunny, breezy
- Pitch: Good
|No.||Starting XI||Goals||Yellow & Red Cards||Subs On/Off|
The ten men of the OHAFC 1st XI put up a brave fight away to the Old Brentwoods on Saturday afternoon, but ultimately fell just short of taking the tie to extra-time, exiting the Arthur Dunn Cup at the first hurdle following a 2-1 defeat. The Blues’ cause was not helped by the withdrawal from the squad of Nick Scarborough on the morning of the game, leaving skipper Fraser McGuinness scrambling around before kick-off trying to find anyone capable of making their way to Essex for a 12.45pm kick-off. As it was, the visitors were forced to play the entire game a man down, a fact the opposition failed to cotton onto until after the final whistle!
Unsurprisingly given the poor preparations, the Blues found themselves under early pressure, skipper McGuinnes forced into a number of early saves and centre-backs Ed Beecham and Rory Miller throwing themselves in the way of several goal-bound shots. Once the initial storm had been weathered however, the visitors gradually forced their way back into the game and the remainder of the first half was a fairly even affair. The Harrow skipper was still forced to make one excellent save, diverting a low shot away with his foot, but the ten men held on and went into the break still on level terms.
The second half proved rather more eventful than the first, with the hosts opening the scoring ten minutes after the break. A lucky break of the ball on the edge of the Harrow penalty area fell kindly to an opponent, who took an excellent first touch to carry him past Rory Miller, allowing him to fire across McGuinness into the far corner with the outside of his left foot.
Ten minutes later and the hosts were gifted the chance to put the tie beyond Harrow’s reach when a very harsh penalty decision was given against Miller inside the box. A cross came in from the left, deflected off the defender’s leg as he attempted to cut it out and ricocheted onto his outstretched arm. Disappointingly the referee, after some deliberation, pointed to the spot, but the subsequent effort was well saved by McGuinness, who dived low to his right to turn the ball past the post.
Brentwoods continued to press forwards in their search for the vital second goal but were heroically thwarted in their attempts by some excellent defensive work from the Harrow back four and keeper. And the visitors earned their reward for their stoicism with a shock equaliser with twenty-five minutes remaining, McGuinness pumping a long free-kick towards the Brentwoods box and Mike Okoigun – in his first appearance of the season – taking advantage of some sloppy defending to prod the ball in from close range.
But already by this stage the Blues were struggling physically, the toil of playing the entire game a man down on a heavy pitch taking a heavy toll. Extra-time appeared an unappealing prospect, but looked likely as the game ticked past the 80 minute mark. However with just over five minutes remaining the visitors’ resistance was broken from a corner, McGuinness struggling to collect under pressure and the ball bundled in at the far post despite Harrow protestations.
In the circumstances, this was a very creditable OHAFC performance that so nearly saw the side hold out for an entire game against Premier Division opposition. Nevertheless, the Dunn Cup challenge is over for another season and the squad must question their desire when only ten players put themselves forwards for selection for such an important fixture.