Late late show sees 3s ease to vital win
- November 25th 2023, Kingston Grammar Sch (Ditton Field), 1:30pm
- Division 4
- Referee: Oliver Gillman
- Weather: Sunny, calm
- Pitch: Good
|No.||Starting XI||Goals||Yellow & Red Cards||Subs On/Off|
|10||Will Payne||19', 54', 73'|
Four goals inside the final twenty minutes eventually saw the OHAFC 3rd XI ease to a comfortable victory against a spirited Old Kingstonians side in Thames Ditton on a sunny Saturday afternoon in southwest London. The hosts, who sat bottom of Division Four prior to kick-off, earned a shock early lead but Will Payne equalised following a flowing Harrow move. Payne gave the visitors the lead ten minutes into the second half, converting Freddie Everett’s pass, but the Blues had to wait until the closing stages to make their superior quality tell, Payne completing his hat-trick before Dan Graham crowned his first appearance of the season with a goal, Luke Berry converted a penalty and left-back Alex Kenderdine-Davies saved the best until last, smashing in a superb long-range effort just before time.
A much-changed 3s team saw only seven of the fourteen players who featured in last weekend’s 3-2 defeat away to the Old Westmisnters in Rotherhithe make the journey south for this first ever OHAFC fixture at the Kingstonians’ plush ground on the banks of the River Thames, just across from Hampton Court. The grass pitches were in excellent condition and although the adjacent tennis courts were empty, both astroturf pitches were a hive of activity with concurrent hockey matches being enjoyed in the bright winter sunshine. The headline team news was the first appearance of the season for wide forward Dan Graham, brother of Adam, who was otherwise engaged in sunnier climes. A powerful back four of Brooks, Ed and Simon Nicholson and Kenderdine-Davies were again forced to protect a stand-in keeper, with Charlie Lupton once more asked to sacrifice personal ambition for the greater good. And Will Payne was a late replacement for Tom Mitchell, forced to withdraw on the eve of the game.
With the visitors having earned only a single point from their previous five League games, a run that had seen the side slip to just a point above the relegation zone, victory over a Kingstonians side who had won just a single game this season was imperative if the 3s early season optimism was not to be lost for good. But it was the hosts who took a shock lead after just twelve minutes. The Blues had survived an earlier scare when a poor clearance from Lupton fell invitingly for a Kingstonian forward only for the resulting shot to drift wide of the far post. Shortly afterwards, an inch-perfect pass was slid down the inside left channel, evading the despairing lunge of Si Nicholson, and the Kingstonian forward ran on to curl the ball past the onrushing Harrow keeper and into the far corner.
It took the visitors just seven minutes to level matters, Will Payne showing some excellent footwork to meander past several defenders across the face of the penalty area and exchange passes with Hayes, who played his teammate in unselfishly, Payne clipping the ball past the keeper from eight yards out. But within four minutes the hosts had spurned a golden opportunity to restore their advantage when they fired a penalty wide of goal. The spot-kick appeared fairly fortunate anyway, Ed Nicholson penalised for what appeared no more than a shoulder to shoulder incident with his opponent. But referee Oliver Gillman, officiating an OHAFC side for the first time, pointed to the spot only for the effort to lack any conviction and roll harmlessly past the post.
The remainder of the half proved a fairly scrappy affair, Luke Berry coming closest to breaking the deadlock when he fired a powerful long-range effort that flew just wide of the post. But otherwise there was little to choose between the teams, with Kingstonians giving as good as they got. With three substitutes on the bench, skipper Joss Awdry spent most of half-time with a furrowed brow, trying to calculate just how to manage his resources. Young defender David Liu, who had made his OHAFC debut last weekend, and Dan Graham had already been brought on and Oliver Wilson was the final member of the trio to enter the fray, the skipper removing himself for a spell on the side.
A quiet start to the second half saw neither side threaten but the game suddenly sprang into life when striker Freddie Everett, who had barely featured in the first half, fired just over with a spectacular acrobatic volley. The striker has scored just once since his four-goal salvo in the opening game of the season, but he was now fully involved, teeing up Payne for his second goal a minute later, collecting the ball on the edge of the box and feeding the winger, who turned adroitly on the penalty spot before planting a low shot past the keeper.
The visitors steadily grew in confidence to the extent that keeper Charlie Lupton was now enduring long spells without coming close to touching the ball. The hosts did throw a few set-pieces into the box, but the height of the Nicholson’s, Tritton and Brooks dealt with them comfortably and the Harrow goal remained unthreatened.
But it wasn’t until the final twenty minutes, with players tiring and space now opening up across the pitch, that the men in blue finally made their superior quality tell. Dan Graham, who hadn’t stopped running since his introduction after half an hour, grabbed the goal his performance deserved when he latched onto a pass down the left and finished at the second time of asking. Three minutes later the result was put beyond doubt, Payne completing his hat-trick with a well-worked break, Everett holding the ball up, feeding Graham and he in turn played in Payne, who tucked the ball under the advancing keeper before gleefully producing another cartwheel celebration.
The Blues were now in full control and on the hunt for further goals, although their momentum was temporarily halted when Alex Kenderdine-Davies flew into a late challenge in the middle of the pitch, drawing a deserved yellow card from the match official. Hayes followed his teammate into the notebook soon afterwards for an attempt at some kind of revenge following a fairly robust challenge by the Kingstonians keeper on Dan Graham that went unpunished.
There was still time in the final ten minutes for three further goals to fly in. Everett came within inches of claiming his desperately desired goal (in front of his distinctly unimpressed girlfriend) when his lob over the keeper was cleared off the line by a retreating defender, but Luke Berry then sauntered into the box, carried the ball past a couple of defenders before being tripped by a third. Berry picked himself up and converted the penalty, confidently picking out the same bottom corner the Kingstonian player had so woefully missed in the first half.
But the best of Harrow’s six goals was saved until last and arrived via the most unlikely soruce, left-back Kenderdine-Davies collecting the ball just inside the Kingstonians half, driving forwards for a few yards before calmly producing a superb curled effort from fully thirty yards out that bamboozled the retreating keeper, no doubt hindered by the low setting sun behind the far goal. The hosts had the final word, a corner delivered to the near post was superbly headed in on the run, but it was no more than a consolation.
The 3s have just two games remaining before the Christmas break, both on astroturf, beginning with a trip to the City of London Academy to face the Old Wellingtonians next weekend. The two sides met on the opening weekend of the season on a sunny Phil, with Everett’s four goals heralding a bright start to the campaign. A repeat performance in the return fixture would help the OHAFC 3s firmly re-establish themselves in mid-table in Division Four.