Dominant Westminsters end 3s' hopes of silverware
- March 11th 2023, Harrow School 4G Astro, 10:30am
- DW Trophy
- Referee: Philip Mayer
- Weather: Sunny, calm
- Pitch: Astroturf
|No.||Starting XI||Goals||Yellow & Red Cards||Subs On/Off|
|1||Tom Mitchell (c)|
The OHAFC’s last remaining hope of silverware this season ended on Saturday when the 3rd XI were summarily dismissed 5-1 on the Harrow School astroturf by Division Five leaders the Old Westminsters 2s in the quarter-finals of the David Woolcott Trophy. A makeshift back four struggled to contain a buoyant Westminsters side, the visitors two goals to the good by half-time. Although the Blues tightened up after the break, late injuries to Khalil Baoku and Dan Graham saw the hosts reduced to ten men and the visitors took full advantage, scoring three more times to secure serene progress into the last four. The 3s are left with just their final League game of the season to contemplate, a visit to Haberdashers in mid-April.
This was a hugely disappointing way to exit the DW Trophy for the Harrow 3s, who went into this game with high hopes of reaching a first Cup semi-final since 2018. On that occasion the 3s were put to the sword by another Division Five side, the Old Johnians, who ran out 6-1 winners. The margin of victory was the same here, with the Blues never looking likely to prevail.
The uneven and, frankly, unfair fixture scheduling for the Harrow 3s has already been dealt with in other match reports this season and it is hardly surprising that momentum has been lost with so little football since the turn of the year. Availability has declined, to the extent that both for this fixture and the preceding round away to Lancing 2s, a tie won in extra-time, resources have been stretched to breaking point. Here, Charlie Lupton, a midfield schemer, was forced into the back four, with Mikey Watford, usually found on the wing, also seconded into defensive duties. The result was unsurprising, with the back four under immediate pressure and struggling to contain a Westminsters side that have won nine and drawn two of their twelve League fixtures this season, scoring 35 goals in the process.
The visitors were contained for twenty minutes before finding the breakthrough, the left winger rather scuffing a shot towards the back post that transformed into a pinpoint cross, although there were some appeals for offside as the ball was turned in. Some sloppy defensive play contributed to the lead being doubled just before the break. The hosts had several opportunities to clear their lines but failed to do so and the ball was eventually returned over the top for the striker to run onto and finish convincingly past Mitchell.
Khalil Baoku was summoned from the bench, his back injury risked in desperation, with Mikey Watford the man making way. Olly Roberts was recruited into the back four to add stability and experience and this change, from a defensive standpoint, worked well, with Westminsters far less threatening after the break. But the loss of Roberts’ drive down the right wing also hampered the hosts’ ability to attack, with the upshot being that neither side came close to altering the scoreline as the match progressed: clearly a situation that suited Westminsters more.
Any hopes the 3s had of overturning the tie vanished in the final fifteen minutes as both Baoku and Dan Graham were forced off with injuries, reducing the home side to ten men. Westminsters took full advantage, with the Blues now wilting under tiredness and frustration, hopes of a glorious end to the season swiftly evaporating. The final scoreline of 5-0 was harsh on the home side, but there was no doubt that Westminsters deserved to progress. For the 3s, one final fixture remains this season, a trip to face promotion hopefuls the Old Haberdashers in mid-April. With nothing riding on the game from a Harrow perspective, it will be interesting to see how much motivation remains among the ranks.