2s relegated despite superb final day win
- April 29th 2023, Harrow School 4G Astro, 10:30am
- Division 2
- Referee: Stephen Bodell
- Weather: Sunny, calm
- Pitch: Astroturf
|No.||Starting XI||Goals||Yellow & Red Cards||Subs On/Off|
|7||Max Curry||27', 66'|
|10||Geoff Taunton-Collins (c)||70'|
Lady Luck finally ran out for the OHAFC 2nd XI on Saturday as the side’s six-year stay in Division Two came to an end despite an excellent 3-0 victory over the Old Sennockians on the Harrow School astroturf on the final weekend of the Arthurian League season. The Blues knew that a win over Sennocks would see them leapfrog their opponents in the table and only an unlikely victory for bottom-placed Aldenham away to the title-chasing Radleians would deny them a place in the division next season. With the Aldenham game not kicking off until moments before the Harrow game ended, a lengthy wait ensued before the Blues learnt their fate: a remarkable, unexpected 4-2 win that meant the Aldenhamians had somehow won their final four matches of the season and hauled themselves above both the OHAFC and the Sennockians on the final day of the season.
As the season neared its climax, this was the most unlikely of all scenarios, with Aldenham’s win not only earning them an extraordinary reprieve, but also denying the Radleians a title that had long appeared theirs for the taking – their final day loss handed the Division Two crown to the Old Etonians 2s, who thumped the Old Malvernians earlier on Saturday morning. Understandably, the mood in the Harrow camp swung from nervous optimism to one of crushing disappointment, nine months of effort ending with a first relegation for the side since the 2009/10 season.
The outcome was all the harder to take given the excellent performance earlier that had seen the Blues earn their fifth League win of the season and earn a semblance of revenge for the 4-1 defeat suffered away to the Sennockians prior to Christmas. In warming spring sunshine, the Blues started superbly, dominating the first half for long spells, despite enjoying an early reprieve when a Sennockians effort from the edge of the box cannoned off the inside of the post before being cleared to safety. The home side pieced together some excellent spells of football, notably when Miles Kellock came inside from the left wing to help direct play. The only thing lacking was a decent final ball, with several corners poorly delivered and numerous shots flying wide of their intended target – at one point left-back Callum Barrett found himself in a goalscoring position three times in ten minutes but failed to test the keeper on each occasion. The hosts finally earned the lead their play had deserved when Kellock’s corner from the left was headed in from close range by the leaping Max Curry at the far post. Despite now finding themselves destined for the drop, the visitors remained curiously reserved in their approach, barely testing keeper Tom Mitchell in the Harrow goal.
But the first fifteen minutes of the second half proved a different story, with the Sennockians coming out of the blocks far more aggressively and consequently enjoying their best spell of the entire match. Suddenly, the hosts’ lead appeared a precarious one as several attacks were ended by some desperate and, at times, fairly unconvincing defending. The crucial moment arrived just before the hour-mark when a ball over the top down the Sennockians’ left allowed the dangerous winger to run in on goal. Mitchell hared out of his goal but then stopped, realising the forward was going to get to the ball first. With the goal gaping, the effort was a poor one, allowing the Harrow keeper to leap up and palm the ball to safety before collecting at the second attempt.
That miss would prove fatal to Sennocks’ hopes of victory, with the hosts regaining the initiative in short order and scoring twice inside seven minutes to ensure the win. Both goals owed much to superb build-up play: the first saw the ball switched from right to left before Charlie Bick found substitute Lederman in the middle of the Sennocks half – with players shifting back towards the right, Lederman’s clever reverse pass found Max Curry in space at the far post and for the second time he beat the Sennocks keeper with a well-placed header back across goal; the second, seven minutes later, again saw play worked neatly through midfield with a quick exchange of passes freeing Tristan David through on goal – a slightly heavy first touch took the forward away from goal, but instead of attempting an almost impossible shot in frustration, he delivered a low cross allowing the sprinting Max Kellock to arrive at the far post and score with a spectacular diving header.
With a three-goal cushion the hosts could now dictate play and for the most part the game was seen off without cause for alarm, Sennockians now fully resigned to their fate. Max Curry fired wildly over in search of a hat-trick, Harry Bick enjoyed a late cameo, coming off the bench for the final five minutes and his only five minutes in an OHAFC shirt this season. Temporarily at least, the OHAFC climbed into eighth in the table and life seemed good. Then, nearly two hours later, the news the side had been dreading arrived…
The OHAFC 2s end their season ninth in Division Two with five wins and three draws from their eighteen League games played. Even a cursory glance at the table highlights the main cause of the side’s demise: 29 goals scored is the second lowest in the division, with only the Sennockians having scored fewer. Defensively, the Blues fared much better, the 42 goals conceded fewer than six of the nine other teams. The lack of a central striker available for all but a handful of games proved a decisive handicap the side could not overcome. Nevertheless, the 2s should remain proud of their efforts and can now enjoy the summer off before the opportunity arrives to prove themselves once more in Division Three.