Scrappy goals kill 3s chances against powerful Berkhamstedians

Old Harrovians 3rd XI
0 : 2
Old Berkhamsteds 2nd XI
  • December 3rd 2022, Philathletic Ground, 10:30am
  • Division 4
  • Referee: Mohammed Shohel
  • Weather: Cloudy
  • Pitch: Fair
No. Starting XI Goals Yellow & Red Cards Subs On/Off
1 Tom Mitchell (c)
2 Joss Awdry
3 Gev Arnsberg 60'
4 Simon Nicholson
5 Charlie Dunn
6 Ali Buckley
7 Charlie Lupton
8 Luke Berry
9 Michael Brooks
10 Alvin Adefarasin
11 Adam Graham 60'
12 Henry Collins 30'

The OHAFC 3rd XI fell to a fourth defeat in five League games when they lost 2-0 at home to a rapidly improving Old Berkhamstedians 2nd XI on a cloudy Harrow Hill on Saturday morning. The two sides had shared a memorable 3-3 draw earlier in the season – part of a run of five winless games the Berkhamstedians had opened their campaign with. But coming into Saturday’s encounter the 3s’ opponents had stormed to three consecutive victories, scoring a remarkable 21 goals in the process. And it was this side that the Blues came up short against, battling hard to stay level to half-time, before conceding two rather scrappy goals midway through the half. Thankfully, the 3s finally have the chance to rest weary minds and limbs, the run of twelve consecutive weeks of football – more than any other side in the entire Arthurian League – now at an end.

For this final fixture of 2022, the Blues named a strong lineup with skipper Tom Mitchell returning to the fold and new recruit Gev Arnsberg making his fourth appearance of the season. The club’s two leading scorers – Adam Graham and Alvin Adefarasin – led the line, both hoping to add to their hugely impressive tallies of seven and four goals respectively.

Unsure as to whether or not another game was taking place on the main Phil pitch (if only there was a website that provided such information), the 3s, rather bizarrely, opted to play the game on the second pitch. This was not in great condition, with heavily sanded areas and a surface that had clearly seen plenty of wear and tear in recent weeks.

This seemed to suit the visitors initially, who kicked off playing down the slope towards the Alcock Pavilion. Using a fairly direct style of play, the Berkhamstedians pinned Harrow back for long spells, creating several chances that were either saved or spurned. Joss Awdry was alert enough to scramble one effort off the line, but the hosts were under pressure.

Substitute Henry Collins had Harrow’s best chance of the half, latching onto an excellent cross from Alvin Adefarasin from the left only to see his shot well saved by the visitors’ keeper. But when the half-time whistle blew with the sides still level at 0-0, it was the home team who were by far the more relieved.

Skipper Mitchell implored his troops to raise their game after the break and utilise the same direct style so successfully employed by their opponents in the first half. And with the slope now in their favour, the home side did enjoy a brief spell in the ascendency, without really creating any clear-cut chances.

Berkhamstedians remained a threat on the break, albeit their attacks were now far more sporadic. But two scrappy goals midway through the half proved more than sufficient to earn the victory. Mitchell had already made a couple of useful saves, but he was then undone following a scramble inside the box after a free-kick had been crossed in. The ball was flicked on to the back post and one of the centre-halves smashed a shot through a crowd of players. The ball hit one of his own men and, rather fortuitously, rebounded into the net, the Harrow keeper powerless to react in time. Further Berkhamstedians pressure followed and they doubled their lead, deservedly, following another scramble from a set-piece. This time a corner caused havoc inside the penalty area, Mitchell tipping a shot onto the crossbar only for the loitering striker to prod home from close range.

The Blues, playing in their change yellow shirts, did force a couple of late chances in a bid to add tension to the closing stages: Adam Graham saw his effort from a one-on-one foiled by the Berkhamsteds keeper and Simon Nicholson and Luke Berry then got in an almighty tangle at a corner, the two players both going for the same ball with the goal at their mercy, the chance eventually lost.

So a disappointing way for the 3s to end their year, although their effort could not be faulted against a strong Berkhamsteds side who appear to be priming themselves for a promotion challenge in the second half of the season. The Blues can now regroup over the Christmas period and attack their final three League games of the season, and the David Woolcott Trophy, with renewed enthusiasm.