Shambolic display sees trap-door open wider for struggling OHAFC

Old Harrovians 1st XI
1 : 7
Old Johnians 1st XI
  • March 18th 2023, Harrow School 4G Astro, 10:30am
  • Division 1
  • Referee: Mohammed Shohel
  • Weather: Cloudy
  • Pitch: Astroturf
No. Starting XI Goals Yellow & Red Cards Subs On/Off
1 Fraser McGuinness
2 Michael Brooks
3 John Russell
4 Fraser Barr
5 Cassius Kidston 15'
6 Ali Buckley
7 Murray Barr
8 Daniel Firoozan 54'
9 Will Payne
10 Cyprian Owen Edmunds
11 Ciaran Jordan
12 Fabian Dobree 15'

A shambolic first half from the OHAFC 1st XI saw them concede five times at home to the Old Johnians on Saturday morning, the Blues improving after the break but still falling to a hugely disappointing 7-1 defeat that leaves the side nervously looking over their shoulders as they approach the final two games of the season, sitting just one place and two points above the relegation zone. To have any hope of avoiding a second successive demotion, the 1s must show more character than they did here.

Most of the side, it appeared, failed to avoid the honey trap of St Patrick’s Day falling on a Friday and arrived for this game, against a Johnians side they had spectacularly beaten 5-4 back in November, late and somewhat the worse for wear. The warm-up lasted barely five minutes and, unsurprisingly, the Johnians dominated from the first whistle, taking advantage of some awful defending to score three times inside a quarter of an hour: two cross-shots from out wide, the third a looping header, with Fraser McGuinness making an outstanding save to prevent even worse damage from being accrued.

Skipper Dan Firoozan had seen enough and removed the struggling Kidston from the fray, Fabian Dobree given an earlier taste of the action than he was probably expecting. This switch forced a reshuffle of positions but little change to the overall momentum of the game, with the visitors, who have acquitted themselves well since earning promotion from Division Two last season, still firmly in the driving seat. They scored twice more before the break, the Blues enduring comfortably their worst half of the season.

With the result already beyond any reasonable doubt, skipper Firoozan urged his men to at least try and put on a stronger showing in the second half – that, frankly, seemed a simple task to achieve. But to the hosts’ credit they stuck to their guns, aided, it must be said, by the Johnians clearly playing within themselves. The skipper set the example, scoring Harrow’s only goal of the game ten minutes into the half with yet another effort from a direct free-kick to reduce the arrears to 5-1. Will Payne also enjoyed a strong showing on the wing – his promotion into the 1s this season has been fully deserved and he is now clearly among the top attacking talents in the division.

The visitors earned a fortunate sixth goal from the spot when centre-back John Russell, enjoying his first season of Arthurian League football, was very harshly penalised for handball, the ball rebounding up onto his arm after a shot was drilled against him from close range. A counter-attack late on put the final gloss on the scoreline, the Johnians ending a run of five straight League defeats in some style.

Not for the first time this season, an OHAFC 1st XI performance has to be filed deep in the archives, hopefully never to be relived. Just two fixtures remain, both away from home – a trip to Twickenham to face the Old Rugbeians next weekend before the final game away to the newly-crowned Division One champions the Old Foresters a week later. Four points separate the Old Salopians in seventh from the Old Berkhamstedians in ninth, with the OHAFC sandwiched in between. All three sides have two games left to play. For the Blues, next week’s encounter with the Rugbeians has now taken on critical importance.