Late flourish sees Blues earn second consecutive win
- November 5th 2022, Lincoln Fields (4G Astro), 12pm
- Division 1
- Referee: Mohammed Shohel
- Weather: Rain, breezy
- Pitch: Astroturf
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The OHAFC 1st XI secured their second consecutive victory of the season on Saturday afternoon with an excellent 4-2 win away to the Old Marlburians on the astroturf in Whitton – the third time in six League games the side have hit four against an opponent. A tight, goalless first half barely hinted at what was to follow. The Blues scored all of their goals in the final twenty five minutes, trading blows with the Marlburians so that with just ten minutes remaining the sides were locked at 2-2. But despite having two goals disallowed, the OHAFC secured a valuable win courtesy of late efforts from Arthur Leney and Will Payne. Dan Firoozan’s men now sit in seventh in a very tight Division One, with third and ninth separated by just three points.
With two weeks having passed since the debacle of the Dunn Cup defeat away to the Old Shirburnians, the OHAFC 1s owed it to themselves to put on a good showing against a Marlburians side they had beaten only once from five previous League meetings. Promisingly, a much stronger squad made themselves available than the one which travelled down to Dorset for the Cup, skipper Firoozan even naming himself on the bench, albeit perhaps for diplomatic reasons rather than a lack of self-belief. The captain also changed the formation, starting the game, boldly, with three at the back in a bid to stifle the Marlburians in midfield.
The gameplan worked well for the first half. Under cold, grey skies and persistent rain, the Blues made life increasingly difficult for their opponents, who failed to find any sort of rhythm on their usual wide artificial pitch. With three forwards and four midfielders all pressing high up the pitch, the hosts were unable to keep hold of the ball for very long, Fraser McGuinness remaining untroubled in the Harrow goal.
The visitors slowly began to turn the screw and had the ball in the net, apparently, just before the half-hour mark when George Taylor bundled in following a scramble form a corner. But referee Mohammed Shohel couldn’t see clearly whether the ball had crossed the line and play continued. Ollie Atkinson then delivered a superb cross from the right that just evaded a couple of runners following some flowing Harrow football. The visitors were now purring, all that was missing were the goals to show for it.
The skipper introduced himself at half-time in place of Murray Barr, the side unsurprisingly continuing with the same shape that had served them so well in the first half. And they once more found themselves bemoaning a refereeing decision ten minutes into the half when Ed Beecham tapped in from close range following a George Taylor effort from a corner. Following a couple of minutes of deliberation, the match official decided the Harrow centre half had been in an offside decision and the goal was ruled out.
Undeterred, the Blues pushed on and were rewarded for their endeavours with the opening goal after 65 minutes. Firoozan swung in a free-kick and Taylor headed home at the far post. This sparked a frantic exchange between the two sides for the remainder of the game, with both sides now threatening. Seven minutes later the Marlburians levelled, a long ball forwards was initially well defended by the visitors, but the hosts recycled possession and a cut back found a central midfielder on the edge of the box, he carried the ball past two Harrow defenders and dragged a left foot shot across McGuinness and into the far corner.
Play now resembled a basketball game, with chances arriving at both ends at an extraordinary rate. Two minutes after equalising, the Marlburians should have been ahead: a break down their right saw the ball squared across the six yard box but the centre forward make a hash of the finish, allowing McGuinness to make the save and Beecham to scramble clear before the rebound could be profited from.
Then, two minutes after that, Harrow did retake the lead. Excellent pressing from Arthur Leney forced the centre halves into a mistake, Doug Morrison on hand to pounce on the loose ball, run on and finish inside the near post. This time the lead lasted four minutes, Marlburians narrowly failing to score from one corner when Murry Barr made a miraculous clearance off the line from a header, but making amends from the next with a thumping header from one of the tall centre halves.
With ten minutes remaining and the sides locked at 2-2, this was anyone’s game. What was almost certain was that further goals would be arriving soon, with neither side appearing capable of holding up defensively. Fortunately, from a Harrovian perspective, it was the visitors who would emerge victorious.
With seven minutes remaining, Leney and Morrison again combined for Harrow’s third, a goal very similar in its formation to the second, albeit with the roles reversed. This time it was Morrison who hassled and harried and Leney who took advantage, out-muscling and out-running a Marlburian defender to sprint through on goal and smash his shot high into the roof of the net.
Self-belief now coursed through Harrow veins and the vital fourth goal that arrived four minutes later sealed the points. Left winger Will Payne drove past his man into the box, only to see his precisely-placed finish rebound off the far post. Payne reacted instinctively, smashing the ball back first-time into the top corner to send the Blues wild with delight.
Having collected just a point from their first four games of the season, the OHAFC 1s have now secured consecutive League wins for the first time since early October in 2019. This result is yet further proof that if the squad make an effort, they are more than capable of stringing a decent run of results together and climb their way up the table. The Blues now enjoy a week off before facing the final four games prior to Christmas, beginning with a home game against the Old Westminsters on the 19th.