3s end enjoyable season beaten but unbowed
- April 15th 2023, Latymer School (Edmonton), 12:15pm
- Division 4
- Referee: Philip Mayer
- Weather: Cloudy
- Pitch: Astroturf
|No.||Starting XI||Goals||Yellow & Red Cards||Subs On/Off|
The OHAFC 3rd XI ended their season with a somewhat predictable defeat away to title-chasing Old Haberdashers on Saturday afternoon, a sloppy second half display allowing the hosts to run away with a comfortable 7-1 victory on a school astroturf in Enfield and maintain their challenge for the Division Four crown ahead of Old Brentwoods 3s. The Blues, firmly ensconced in mid-table, had nothing but pride to play for and a competitive first half saw them trail by just a solitary goal despite Habs enjoying the lion’s share of the play. But an awful start to the second half saw the Harrow back four at sixes and sevens and Habs took the game away from them with a four-goal salvo in twenty minutes. Ed Stewart would have the final say for the visitors, however, heading home Harrow’s goal from a corner inside the final ten minutes. The Blues end their campaign in fifth in the nine-team Division with six wins and two draws from their sixteen League games, a more than respectable performance.
With the side having not played for over a month, and with little riding on the outcome, the squad could have been forgiven for displaying muted enthusiasm towards a trip to north London for this final encounter of the season, the Haberdashers School football pitches now out of commission. Instead, such was the demand for places that available players had to be turned away, although the no-show on the day of the game from stalwart Olly Roberts was disappointing and duly punished at the end of season dinner later that evening. Nevertheless, it was heartening to see the commitment displayed this season from the group continue right to the very end.
The Blues were rewarded for their efforts with a competitive first half display that saw them go in at the break trailing by just a solitary goal. Habs fully deserved their lead, the opening twenty minutes was almost one-way traffic directed towards the Harrow goal, although the final ball from the home side lacked quality, desperately at times, with crosses fired straight into the arms of keeper Mitchell and shots skewed well wide of the target. Such was the volume of wayward deliveries that one Habs defender had seen enough – after yet another cross had missed its intended target by some distance, an exasperated cry of ‘oh not again’ stung the ears of the perpetrator.
But having seen off this initial thrust, the visitors gradually began to work their way back into the game and play shifted away from the Harrow final third, leading to a much more even contest. Indeed, for fifteen minutes Habs barely created a sniff of a chance and so the only goal of the half, which arrived after 37 minutes, seemed something of a surprise to those watching on. A fairly innocuous long ball down the Habs right wasn’t dealt with by the Harrow back four and the winger ran on to produce a superb finish from the corner of the box, drilling his shot across Mitchell and just inside the far post.
Harrow responded strongly in the minutes remaining before the break, enjoying their best period of the match. Mitchell produced an excellent save from close range to prevent a Habs second, but the visitors then broke upfield, Michael Brooks’ cross from the right just evading Adam Graham at the far post before a deft touch from Sam Dunn freed Joss Awdry down the same wing only for the defender to overhit his final ball. Nevertheless, with just a solitary goal separating the sides at the break, there was still all to play for.
But that, unfortunately, proved something of an illusion as the home side ran riot in the twenty minutes after half-time against a shell-shocked Harrow side who became increasingly bedraggled. Habs scored three times between the 52nd and 56th minutes: the first was a neat move on the edge of the box that saw a first shot crash against the post before a second was arrowed into the bottom corner from the edge of the box, the second a long shot that slightly unfortunately rebounded off the bar, back onto the sprawling Mitchell, before being tapped in from a yard out and the third a simple move down the Habs right that created another close-range finish at the far post.
Try as they might, the Blues could not keep possession for even a few passes, with lone striker Adam Graham becoming increasingly exasperated at the paucity of the supply to him. But there was little his teammates could do. Habs were fitter, quicker to the ball and, with a title on the line, not about to let up in pursuit of a handsome win.
The fifth arrived on sixty-five minutes, a slick move through the middle of an anonymous Harrow midfield that saw the ball sprayed out to the right, the resultant cross finished at the far post. Five minutes later it was 6-0, yet another cross from the right allowed a tap-in at the far post although there was more than a hint of controversy about this one, with Brooks flagging for what appeared a clear offside only for referee Philip Mayer to ignore it and wave play on. The goal stood despite several Harrow players having stopped awaiting a free-kick in their favour.
It mattered not, a seventh was added soon afterwards as the 3s season appeared to be ending in fairly hopeless fashion, but there was one late ray of sunshine to brighten the gloom with Ed Stewart leaping high to meet a Charlie Dunn corner from the left and head powerfully home, the 3s at least having the final say against the Division Four champions elect.
The 3s squad can now enjoy their summer break well satisfied with their efforts this season. Only one 3rd XI side plays in a higher division and the 3s have proved fully committed to their task all season – despite the ridiculous fixture scheduling that forced them to play twelve of their sixteen league fixtures before the Christmas break.
A full review of the 3s season will appear on the website in the next few weeks – congratulations to the skippers and the whole squad for their efforts this season.