Adam Graham header seals vital late win for the 3s

Old King's Scholars 1st XI
0 : 1
Old Harrovians 3rd XI
  • October 30th 2021, Harrow School 4G Astro, 11am
  • Division 4
  • Referee: Hitesh Jansari
  • Weather: Sunny, breezy
  • Pitch: Astroturf
No. Starting XI Goals Yellow & Red Cards Subs On/Off
1 Tom Mitchell
2 Toby Colehan 65'
3 Joss Awdry
4 Ed Nicholson (c)
5 Charlie Dunn
6 Michael Brooks 60'
7 Ali Buckley
8 Olly Roberts
9 Charlie Lupton
10 Jake Speed 50'
11 Daniel Graham
12 Khalil Baoku 30'
13 Adam Graham 87' 35'
14 Michael Watford 45'

A storming 88th minute header from Adam Graham secured a vital 1-0 win for the OHAFC 3rd XI over the Old Kings Scholars on the Harrow School astroturf on Saturday morning, pushing their vanquished opponents further into the mire in Division Four and relieving the pressure on their own perilous position in the process. The win not only moved Ed Nicholson’s men into third in the table, albeit having already played eight of their fourteen League games for the season, it also meant the 3s completed the League double over an opponent for the first time since beating the Old Stoics home and away in the 2018/19 season.

With the Blues completing their League programme at a rapid pace – the side are on course to have completed their League season by the end of January – a win over the Scholars was imperative. The two sides met on the Phil three weeks ago with the hosts winning 3-1 courtesy of goals from Dan Graham (2) and Ollie Atkinson. This time, Adam Graham was the hero.

A full squad of fourteen arrived on the Hill – Kings unable to provide a home pitch of their own – for the now traditionally early start of 11am. Skipper Ed Nicholson had been particularly unimpressed with the lack of pre-match preparation for last week’s game against the Old Albanians and the threat of a new fines system for any tardiness seemed to do the trick, with everyone at the ground in plenty of time. Early morning rain gave the artificial surface a nice sheen, encouraging both sets of players to get the ball down and play.

The OHAFC, nominally the visitors despite the familiarity of their surroundings, started well, controlling the opening quarter of the game without really troubling the opposition keeper. But the momentum was halted on the half hour when a nasty clash of heads between Charlie Lupton and a Kings player necessitated a lengthy stoppage. The clash saw Lupton’s opponent suffer a nasty cut to his head, blood pouring from it. He was eventually patched up and taken to hospital – hopefully he makes a swift recovery. It did his side no favours though, with Kings unable to name a sub and therefore forced to play the remaining hour of the match with only ten men.

But the lengthy break seemed to actually do the hosts more good than it did the OHAFC, who suddenly found themselves on the back foot and having to defend. The back four of Colehan, Nicholson, Awdry and Dunn made numerous blocks to prevent the Scholars from opening the scoring, Mitchell fortunately not called upon to make any of his trademark flying saves.

Having weathered the storm, the Blues should have then taken the lead five minutes before the break, but Adam Graham somehow contrived to miss what appeared an unmissable chance. As a result, it was a rather disappointed OHAFC side who went into the half-time interval at 0-0 and with it all still to do.

Despite knowing their opponents were a man down, the Blues started the second half in rather uninspiring fashion, unable to dominate proceedings sufficiently to really put the hosts under pressure. Jake Speed and substitute Mikey Watford both did their best to inject some pace into the attacking play but without producing the final ball necessary. Further changes were made, Khalil Baoku and Adam Graham joining the fray as skipper Nicholson shuffled his pack in search of the breakthrough.

Michael Brooks, Ali Buckley and Olly Roberts combined well down the right several times to good effect, but still a clear chance failed to arrive despite mounting pressure on the Kings goal. With time running out, the vital moment arrived. With just three minutes left on the clock, Baoku combined with Speed who delivered a superb ball into the box, Adam Graham arriving to head the ball in and spark jubilant celebrations from his teammates.

Still the action wasn’t over however, as a minute later a poor challenge from Charlie Lupton sparked a melee involving several players from both sides. Lupton was booked for his challenge, the Harrow goalscorer for his part in the subsequent handbags.

Kings forced one final chance to snatch an unlikely draw when they launched a free-kick into the Harrow box, but Mitchell safely held on to secure the win. The Blues now take a break from League action with a visit next weekend from Division Five South side the Old Westminsters 2s in the first round of the Junior League Cup. In the words of skipper Ed Nicholson, the 3s ‘will need to be better next week.’