1s hit six again to secure vital win over struggling Lancing

Old Harrovians 1st XI
6 : 2
Lancing Old Boys 1st XI
  • January 28th 2023, Philathletic Ground, 10:30am
  • Division 1
  • Referee: Neil Jenkins
  • Weather: Cloudy
  • Pitch: Fair
No. Starting XI Goals Yellow & Red Cards Subs On/Off
1 Fraser McGuinness
2 Joss Awdry 80'
3 Ed Nicholson 80'
4 Morgan Ward
5 Cyprian Owen Edmunds 55'
6 Murray Barr
7 Daniel Firoozan (c)
8 Charlie Bick 26', 61' 80'
9 Will Payne 13'
10 George Taylor 29' 55'
11 Felix Majumdar 88' 55'
12 Fabian Dobree 45'
13 Cassius Kidston 80' 45'
14 Ed Corswarem 45'

For the second consecutive Saturday, the OHAFC 1st XI hit six to defeat a competitive but shot-shy Lancing Old Boys side on the Phil and move into relative safety in the middle of the Division One table. Charlie Bick celebrated his return to the side with two goals, with the others coming from Will Payne, George Taylor, Felix Majumdar and substitute Cassius Kidston. Consecutive wins against the bottom two have eased any potential OHAFC relegation worries, with the Blues having now scored 40 and conceded 41 in their thirteen League fixtures – only Division Four strugglers the Old Ardinians 2s have a higher aggregate in the entire Arthurian League.

This was, in truth, probably a less impressive performance than last week’s 6-4 win at home to the Old Berkhamstedians on the Harrow School astroturf. The Blues played well for long spells of that game, only falling away late on and allowing their opponents to score twice in the closing stages. Here, on a rather grey day on the Hill, with Phil pitch 2 in less than pristine condition, the home side controlled the first half well but were sloppy after the break, being caught on the ball too often and failing to play the simple pass. Fortunately, bottom-placed Lancing, who had scored only eight goals in their ten League games prior to Saturday, were given a lesson in clinical finishing, with the Blues taking advantage of any opportunities created. In contrast, Lancing missed a few sitters, with a scuffed shot from a yard out that rolled harmlessly into the arms of stricken Harrow keeper Fraser McGuinness rather summing up their day.

Both sides had early opportunities to open the scoring down their left wings: Will Payne raced through first for Harrow but could only fire into the side netting; his opposite man for Lancing did likewise, taking advantage of a long ball that was flicked on over Ed Nicholson’s head before racing into the box, only to lash a shot high and wide of the near post.

The Blues gradually began to string together some decent passages of play with skipper Firoozan at the heart of much that was good from the home side, gliding round players in midfield in his rather unique style. It was unsurprising that he was involved in the opening goal after thirteen minutes, firing in a free-kick won by his midfield compatriot Murray Barr twenty-five yards out and forcing the Lancing keeper into a good save low to his right. Will Payne had followed up, however, and made no mistake with a slightly tricky finish to put the hosts ahead.

The Blues continued to look the more lively side as the half progressed, with the centre-half pairing of Ed Nicholson and Morgan Ward comfortably dealing with any threat the visitors could offer in attack. Joss Awdry, following a rare promotion from the 3s, enjoyed a sound half at right-back, looking composed on the ball and focussed in defence, although the front trio of Payne, Taylor and Majumdar only found themselves involved sporadically.

It was with some relief, therefore, when the hosts scored twice in quick succession just before the half-hour mark to take a firm grip on the game. Cyprian Owen Edmunds initiated the second with a strong run down the inside left channel that carried him past two or three Lancing players. Inside the final third, the ball was flicked out to George Taylor and he delivered a perfect low cross to the far post for Charlie Bick to turn in first-time. Taylor himself scored the third three minutes later with a composed finish, collecting Firoozan’s through-ball and cutting inside on the edge of the box before clipping the ball over the onrushing Lancing keeper into the roof of the net.

With a three-goal lead against a side that was struggling to create even a half-chance, the OHAFC found themselves going into the break in a seemingly impregnable position. The skipper rang the changes at the break, with a full roster of fourteen available to him, unlike last week’s bare eleven to face the Berkhamstedians. Fabian Dobree replaced Taylor up front, Cassius Kidston replaced Owen Edmunds at left-back and Ed Corswarem came on for Felix Majumdar on the wing.

There was an early sign that the home side were not going to have things all their own way, however, as Lancing enjoyed some early pressure attacking the Alcock Pavilion end of the ground. McGuinness was forced into pretty much his first serious save of the game and some rather sloppy Harrow defending saw the ball spend far too much time inside the box than was necessary. And this continued for a while as the relative control of the first half gave away to some scrappy defending and poor decisions on the ball, with players too often caught in two minds with simple passes available to them.

Lancing somehow failed to pull a goal back when a low shot was drilled across goal, rebounded off the inside of the post and rolled along the goal line only for the Lancing forward following up to somehow scuff his shot with the goal gaping, the ball rolling slowly back into the grateful arms of the prostrate McGuinness.

Sure enough, two minutes later the Blues took full advantage of a fortuitous refereeing decision when they were awarded a corner that should have been a goal-kick. Payne passed quickly to Charlie Bick on the edge of the box and he feinted to shoot with his right before dragging the ball onto his left, past two Lancing defenders, before finishing with a low left-foot shot that flew in off the near post. The samba celebration that followed was something not seen on the Phil for many years…and hopefully won’t be again.

Four goals to the good with half an hour remaining, this should have been the cue for the Blues to reassert control and see out the remainder of the game with the minimum of fuss. But, just as had been the case in last weekend’s victory over Berkhamsteds, the exact opposite happened and play suddenly switched from end to end, at times resembling a basketball match.

Lancing attacked next, forcing McGuinness into a superb diving save to his right to turn the ball past the post. A short free-kick earned the wide man some space but his low cross somehow missed everyone on its way past the goal. But the visitors did then find the back of the net, taking advantage of some scrappy Harrow play to again cross from the left, this time a sure-footed finish was applied from close range – a fully deserved goal.

This seemed to spur a few in blue shirts back into life and Nicholson took advantage of a rare foray forwards to launch an ambitious long shot that flew just wide of the left post. Moments later the hosts’ four-goal lead was restored as Corswarem whipped a corner over the Lancing keeper to the far post and Kidston bundled in via head, foot and possibly a couple of other parts of his body.

Both sides scored once more in the final five minutes: Lancing grabbing a second when a long free-kick was pumped into the box and headed in at the far post but Harrow had the final word, Felix Majumdar, back on for the final ten minutes of the game, producing a lovely low strike from the edge of the box after Taylor’s initial effort had been blocked.

Although far from a complete performance, this was a comfortable win for the Blues and three vital points earned that carry the side into mid-table. With four of the side’s five remaining games at home, a strong finish to the season could yet see the Blues challenge for a top-three spot.