Ardinians march on in Harrow mud
- January 8th 2022, Philathletic Ground, 11am
- Division 4
- Referee: George Patriche
- Weather: Heavy rain, breezy
- Pitch: Poor
|No.||Starting XI||Goals||Yellow & Red Cards||Subs On/Off|
|4||Ed Nicholson (c)||75'|
The Old Ardinians continued their seemingly unstoppable march towards the Division Four title with yet another six-goal thumping of the OHAFC 3rd XI. In miserable conditions on the Phil, the visitors, unable to find their own pitch for this fixture, scored twice before the break and stretched away in the second half, despite losing their keeper to injury. The Blues couldn't even manage a consolation goal, something they had at least achieved in the first meeting between the teams back in September.
It proved a miserable afternoon for the Harrow 3s, back in action for the first time since drawing 1-1 with the Old Wellingtonians way back at the start of December. The forecast heavy wind and rain duly arrived and the Phil pitches struggled as a result, the playing surface resembling a quagmire once the ninety minutes were up.
Initially, the OHAFC started well, skipper Ed Nicholson lining the side up in a 5-3-2 formation in a bid to provide keeper Tom Mitchell with as much cover as possible. The midfield, including the welcome return of Olly Roberts, kept the ball well, the five-man rearguard, with the two Nicholson's and Ollie Spray in the middle, looking comfortable. Chances proved hard to come by for both sides, a situation that suited the hosts very nicely.
But the equilibrium was broken after twenty minutes in highly unfortunate circumstances: the excellent Ardinians striker beat two or three defenders inside the box and fired on goal - the shot flew wide but as he followed through he caught the Harrow skipper sliding in on him, fell to the ground and referee George Patriche pointed to the spot. Mitchell was left with no chance from the spot-kick and the Blues found themselves trailing.
Both sides then lost players to injury. Fresh from his penalty ordeal, skipper Nicholson was then forced off with blood streaming from his nose after an Ardinian player fell on top of him following another sliding tackle. A worse fate befell the visitors, however, who then lost their keeper to a hamstring injury. This precipitated an outfield player donning the gloves and suddenly Harrow hearts thumped quicker at the prospect of causing an unlikely upset.
But perhaps the hosts allowed themselves to become slightly swept away with the change of keeper at the other end. Minutes later the Blues over-committed men forwards and and the Ardinians countered, spreading the ball out wide before an excellent cross was thumped in on the volley past Mitchell. Adam Graham had a fantastic chance to pull one back right on the stroke of half-time but he somehow contrived to miss - and with that went Harrow's best chance of salvaging a result.
As the pitch continued to worsen under the tramp of 22 very soggy men, the Ardinians put the game beyond Harrovian reach with two scrappy goals early in the second half, the ball bundled in following some scrappy play inside the box.
The Blues continued to strive for a goal of their own, by now clear in the knowledge that it would prove no more than the merest consolation, but Ollie Spray squandered the clearest opportunity, annoyingly so, having beaten three men only to find his shot saved by the Ardinians' second replacement keeper.
The visitors struck twice more late on with a pair of breakaway goals to give the scoreline another very one-sided look. Harrow keeper Tom Mitchell made his usual selection of fine saves to ensure there were no further breaches of the Harrow goal, with the final whistle greeted with a certain sense of relief from both sets of players.
This was always likely to prove a stiff test for the OHAFC, who must now focus all their efforts on their final two League fixtures, both against Lancing Old Boys 2s, in a bod to secure their Division Four status for another season.