3s exit the JLC despite valiant effort against the Kimboltonians
- February 11th 2023, University of Hertfordshire, 1:30pm
- Junior League Cup
- Referee: Adam Knight
- Weather: Cloudy
- Pitch: Good
|No.||Starting XI||Goals||Yellow & Red Cards||Subs On/Off|
|1||Tom Mitchell (c)|
The OHAFC 3rd XI bowed out of this season’s Junior League Cup at the third round stage despite a superb performance away to Division Two high-flyers the Old Kimboltonians at Hertfordshire University. The visitors enjoyed spells in the ascendency in both halves, but couldn’t make their superiority count sufficiently, with Kimboltons taking advantage of a penalty and a wonder-strike to earn a 3-0 lead at the break. Despite putting the hosts under sustained pressure in the second half, the Blues’ sole effort came via the spot, Jamie Jordache converting following a handball, before a late Kimboltons’ breakaway gave the scoreline a rather flattering look.
It was tough on a slightly under-strength 3s side, whose performance was such that the Kimboltonians were convinced the team had included a number of 1st XI players, the 1s not having a game. In fact, the reverse was true, with the 3s missing several regulars and only able to name Mikey Watford on the bench.
Despite a strong start on the expansive main pitch at the University of Hertfordshire, the visitors found themselves under early pressure against a Kimboltons side that had dispatched the OHAFC 2s 4-1 on the same ground a few weeks previously. Frustratingly, it was just as the away side began to come out of their shell that they fell behind: a well-placed cross from out wide caught the back four and keeper Tom Mitchell in two minds and the Kimboltons striker ran through to flick a header on goal; although Mitchell palmed the effort away, the resultant cross was bundled in from close range despite the best efforts to prevent the ball from crossing the line.
Undeterred, the Blues continued to press forwards, enjoying far more of the play that could have reasonably been expected prior to kick-off. Adam Graham was played in behind several times but couldn’t test the keeper sufficiently as pressure grew on the hosts’ back four. But once more, to Harrow’s huge frustration, a goal was conceded against the run of play in disappointing circumstances. A through-ball caught the Harrow defence static and as the striker ran through he was clipped by a retreating Joss Awdry. The contact was minimal but the forward fell to the ground and referee Adam Knight pointed to the spot. Although Mitchell went the right way, the spot-kick was too well placed and the visitors found themselves with a mountain to climb.
Still the blue shirts continued to flood forwards in search of a goal, further half-chances came and went. And then, from nowhere, a miracle strike from the Kimboltonians’ left-winger, who smashed in a shot on the half-volley from way out on the left, the ball arrowing past a despairing Mitchell and crashing in off the far post. It was a magnificent strike and, arriving just prior to half-time, proved the decisive moment in the game.
To the 3s’ great credit they emerged from the break still with plenty of spirit and dominated the opening exchanges of the second half. They were finally rewarded for their efforts when referee Knight pointed to the spot for, it must be said, a rather innocuous handball against a defender. Jamie Jordache stepped up and fired down the middle, just out of reach of the keeper’s flailing arm.
This clearly wasn’t in the script and for a while the Kimboltonians appeared rattled, arguing among themselves and with the match official. The visitors continued to press on, determined to make a game of it. Further chances arrived, Alvin Adefarasin hitting the crossbar with a stinging left-foot shot before Luke Berry fired wide following a bout of pinball in the Kimbolton box. At this stage, a second Harrow goal would have set up a grandstand finish to the game, but the Blues couldn’t find that elusive finish and they were made to pay late on – a fine through-ball down the middle of the pitch saw the Kimbolton number ten race through and poke the ball past Mitchell to make it 4-1 and wrap up the win.
It was unquestionably a very harsh scoreline on the visitors, who had delivered an excellent performance of courage and no little quality, just missing out on the final finish that would have really put the home side under pressure. The 3s now have two League games remaining as well as a very winnable first round David Woolcott Trophy tie against Lancing Old Boys 2s. Further performances of this nature will see the side enjoy a strong end to the season.