Youthful 1s suffer heavy defeat on opening day
- September 4th 2021, Harrow School 4G Astro, 11am
- Premier Division
- Referee: Tony Anderson
- Weather: Cloudy
- Pitch: Astroturf
|No.||Starting XI||Goals||Yellow & Red Cards||Subs On/Off|
|1||Fraser McGuinness (c)|
|5||Cyprian Owen Edmunds||45'|
A youthful OHAFC 1st XI side performed creditably in their season opener at home to KCS Wimbledon Old Boys on the Harrow school astroturf on Saturday afternoon but were ultimately undone by a combination of their opponents’ greater physicality and experience and some lethal finishing. As if any further evidence was necessary, this season will once more provide a stern challenge to skipper Fraser McGuinness and his men.
Nevertheless, it was encouraging to see a number of youngsters making their OHAFC debuts for the curtain raiser: Ben Harrison and Chris Boland, alongside Arthur Leney, who was playing his first ever 1s game, started in attack, with fellow debutants Tom Kellie and Jasper Gray on the bench. There was also a first ever start for X Taylor in midfield, alongside regulars Charlie Bick and George Gould. Vice-captain Dan Firoozan was asked to fill in at right-back, with Alex Ellis and Clarence Jordan the centre-halves and Cyprian Owen Edmunds at left-back.
Wimbledon arrived with their customary array of physically imposing talent and it took the south Londoners barely five minutes to assert their authority, a break down their right wing saw the ball switched to the opposite flank and crossed low and hard into the Harrow box. Although McGuinness got a hand to it, the ball rebounded towards the near post and a Wimbledon striker nipped in front of Ciaran Jordan to prod the ball home from close range.
Undaunted by the early setback, the Blues rallied strongly and enjoyed the better of the next quarter of an hour, Chris Boland showing good strength to hold the ball up against a pair of imposing centre halves, allowing the Harrow midfield to progress up the pitch. Several half chances came and went, but it was the visitors who scored the vital second goal, very much against the run of play. And, once more, it was a set-piece that proved the hosts’ undoing, as was so often the case last season. A long throw from the Wimbledon left was flicked on at the near post and glanced in by the left winger with an astute header.
It could have been even worse for the Blues a minute later when a tremendous left-foot strike from the Wimbledon number ten thirty yards out crashed against the frame of the goal, bounced along the goal line before clipping the other post and rolling away to safety. The visitors appealed desperately for a goal, referee Tony Anderson said no.
But the result was put beyond doubt just before the break with the visitors’ third, taking advantage of a mistake at the back by Owen Edmunds to punish the converted winger and apply the necessary finishing touch. The half-time instructions were simple enough from the skipper: cut out the mistakes, take the chances created and win the half. Debutants Tom Kelbie and Jasper Gray were introduced for two of the back four, with Cyprian Owen Edmunds and Ciaran Jordan taking a break.
Indeed, much of the second half pattern followed that of the first, with the Blues playing well in spells, creating several chances, but failing to take them and subsequently suffering at the other end. Twice more Wimbledon breached the Harrow defence: a low cross from the right allowed the 6'7" striker to finish neatly from close range before a bizarre goalmouth scramble ended with both the ball and the Harrow skipper in the back of the net - McGuinness left almost unable to breathe in the melee that preceded the goal.
Both sides continued to miss chances as the game wound down, Wimbledon running out comfortable winners in the end to extend their streak of victories over the OHAFC to five. With the Carthusians and Brentwoods on the horizon, things are unlikely to get much easier for the Blues any time soon.