Adefarasin snatches last-gasp win in dramatic Cup tie
- February 25th 2023, Tolworth Centre Sports Ground, 1pm
- DW Trophy
- Referee: Jerome Francourt
- Weather: Cloudy
- Pitch: Good
|No.||Starting XI||Goals||Yellow & Red Cards||Subs On/Off|
|9||Olly Roberts (c)||65'|
A superb finish from striker Alvin Adefarasin four minutes from the end of extra-time helped the OHAFC 3rd XI secure a dramatic 3-2 win away to Lancing Old Boys 2s in the first round of the DW Trophy. In a see-saw encounter that saw both sides enjoy periods in the ascendancy, the Blues made a fast start, winger Alfie Hayes finishing in style from Olly Roberts cross. Lancing responded in the second half, levelling from a goalmouth scramble to force extra-time.
Fraser McGuinness, normally found in goal for the 1s, scored with a superb first-time volley from a corner midway through the first period of extra-time to restore the visitors’ advantage and, with the clock ticking down into the final ten minutes, this appeared to be the winning goal. But Lancing had other ideas, scoring from another set-piece with seven minutes remaining, only for Adefarasin to snatch back the tie with a wonderfully composed finish under the keeper following a strong run through the middle. The 3s’ reward is a tricky home tie against Division Five leaders the Old Westminsters 2s in the quarter-finals in a fortnight’s time.
Having already comfortably defeated Lancing 2s in the Junior League Cup 3-0 back in January, on the same ground, this was expected to be another very winnable tie for the Blues, despite a poor lack of availability. Although not nearly as bad as the 1s, the 3s were still forced to call in help from elsewhere in a bid to furnish a starting XI. McGuinness was asked to play in central midfield alongside veteran Lederman, who had already endured 65 minutes of action for the 1s in their defeat by Forest on the Hill. With Tom Mitchell also required to play for the 1s, Henry Collins once more rather reluctantly donned the gloves. But there was better news up front, with Olly Roberts, Alfie Hayes and Adefarasin all declaring themselves fit to play, the latter playing through back pain that may yet prevent him from featuring again for the club this season.
The game started half an hour later than the scheduled 12.30pm, with a late refereeing change requiring an awful two-hour journey from Enfield for the newly-appointed official. This seemed to suit both sides, however, with the tie kicking off in bright sunshine on a firm pitch at the Kingston University Sports Ground.
The visitors made an impressive start, almost taking the lead within thirty seconds as a spell of possession on the right saw Lederman slip Roberts in past his full-back only for the cross to evade the onrushing blue shirts inside the box. But the OHAFC were in the ascendency for the majority of the half, using Roberts on the right and Hayes, on the left, to good effect. In the middle, McGuinness enjoyed a strong start to the game, showing that his earlier pleading to feature in that position was not without merit. Lancing did possess a couple of dangerous players on the counter, with a marauding left-footer with a long stride and nifty swivel of the hips looking their most dangerous threat. Collins remained well-protected in the Harrow goal, however. It was little surprise when the Blues did take the lead, an excellent move saw Roberts break down the right and his low ball across the box was superbly finished by Hayes, cutting in off the opposite wing to drive the ball low into the far corner.
The visitors held their lead comfortably enough until the break and the arrival of Mitchell allowed Collins to revert to his more usual position in the back four, Si Nicholson taking the first quarter of an hour of the half on the side.
But the second half began poorly for the Blues, who were sloppy in possession and forced back by a much-improved Lancing side. Suddenly, the visitors found themselves pinned back inside their own half and unable to find a way out. The back four came under increasing pressure, although once again clear-cut chances were hard to come by. Several shots were fired wide from long-range and although the defending at times was slightly untidy, the sense prevailed that an equaliser was far from inevitable. Midway through the half Lancing did manage to find a way through, however, forcing the ball in from close-range following an almighty scramble from a corner. The Blues had several chances to clear the ball, which at one point rebounded back off the post, but in the end a defender managed to poke the ball through Mitchell’s hands and the tie was back level at 1-1.
The Blues were then dealt a blow with Roberts forced off with a niggly groin injury and Lederman, who had thought his work for the day had been done, required to return to the fray. Despite this, the visitors perked up in the closing stages of the ninety minutes, with the tiring players on both sides seeing space open up and Hayes and Adefarasin once more becoming factors again.
The full-time whistle was perhaps greeted with minimal enthusiasm from the majority of those present, with several players suggesting the tie should proceed straight to penalties. Interestingly, both skippers seemed convinced that an extra half-hour of action would benefit their side the most, so into extra-time the game went.
A fairly evenly-contested first-half was punctuated by a moment of high quality from an unlikely source: a corner from the right was whipped in by Charlie Dunn and McGuinness, loitering at the far post, suddenly found himself in space with the ball arcing towards him. He adjusted his feet superbly, nimbly retreating before meeting the ball first-time with a cushioned sidefoot volley that sent the ball looping back over the keeper and inside the far post. The exuberant celebrations hinted at both the unexpected nature of the goal and its importance – with the 3s now back in pole position in the tie.
The second half of extra-time provided a frantic finale as both sides drew deep into their reserves of energy in a bid to score the crucial next goal. The visitors looked increasingly threatening, with Adefarasin seemingly growing stronger with every passing minute. With half of the second period expired, time appeared to be running out for the home side. But another set piece proved Harrow’s undoing as a cross from the Lancing left was whipped into the box and a deft flick header diverted the ball into the far corner.
At this stage, penalties seemed almost an inevitability, but Adefarasin had other ideas. Three minutes later he collected the ball outside the box, beat one defender before calmly slotting his shot underneath the onrushing keeper. He then nearly scored a goal of the season contender, beating three or four men along the goal line before finally being foiled by the keeper at the near post. But some effective time-wasting from the Blues in the corner ensured there would be no further drama and, finally, the visitors could celebrate a place in the last eight.
Given the circumstances, this was an excellent win for the 3s against a valiant Lancing side who fought until the bitter end. Westminster 2s will provide a stern test in the quarter-finals, with the 3s aiming to reach the last four for only the second time in history, having previously done so in 2018. Disappointingly, it seems as though the side will have to continue their run without Saturday’s hero Adefarasin, whose back injury is set to rule him out for the remainder of the season.