Strikers shine as 2s earn first win of the season

Old Shirburnians 1st XI
2 : 6
Old Harrovians 2nd XI
  • September 16th 2023, Hampton Sports Centre (3G), 12pm
  • Division 3
  • Referee: Daniel Vernon
  • Weather: Sunny, calm
  • Pitch: Astroturf
No. Starting XI Goals Yellow & Red Cards Subs On/Off
1 Rory Craig
2 Joss Awdry 45'
3 Giacomo Grasso 80'
4 Felix Orchard 85'
5 Ed Pagani
6 David Lederman 65'
7 Jack Dolbey
8 Max Curry
9 Geoff Taunton-Collins (c) 40' 75'
10 Tristan David 66'(p) 70'
11 Owain James 16', 24' 55'
12 Adam Graham 34', 58' 25'
13 Jack Robinson 45'
14 Karl Obi 50'

The OHAFC 2nd XI returned to somewhere approaching full strength on Saturday afternoon and duly delivered a much improved performance and result to stroll to a 6-2 win over the Old Shirburnians in the first ever meeting between the two sides. Following the opening day hammering at Old Brentwoods, the Blues needed a swift response on the astroturf in Hampton and the side duly delivered, cruising to a 4-1 lead at the break, with debutant Owain James scoring twice. Substitute Adam Graham added two more and further goals from skipper Geoff Taunton-Coillins and Tristan David, from the spot, ensured a comfortable victory.

Having been forced to field a rather makeshift side against Brentwoods to kick off the new season, skipper Taunton-Collins was delighted to welcome back several regular faces for this vital encounter, none more so than centre-half Felix Orchard, whose superb early form for the side had been cruelly curtailed by a troublesome knee injury. Although declaring himself fit to play, there was some trepidation on behalf of the player and his teammates as to how he would fare. Current 3s player of the season Joss Awdry joined Orchard, Grasso and Pagani at the back, with a vastly experienced midfield of Jack Dolbey, Max Curry and David Lederman – all of whom were making their first appearances of the season. And up front there was an OHAFC debut for Owain James, whose pace and physicality was sure to bring a greater threat in the attacking third. The visitors even had the luxury of naming a full bench for this game, with Adam Graham, Jack Robinson and Karl Obi ensuring that despite the scorching conditions, there would be no excuse for tiring limbs.

Having made a slow start at Brentwoods a fortnight ago, it was imperative the Blues started on the front foot here and they showed excellent composure for the most part, comfortable in possession and enjoying most of the ball. It soon became apparent that the Shirburnians possessed a threatening left winger but a less than cast iron rearguard, with debutant James making his presence felt to good effect on several occasions. Tristan David down the left and Taunton-Collins down the right both launched forays forward on regular occasions and would provide an assist each to the Harrow striker inside the opening half-hour – on both occasions square passes inside were well controlled by the front man before a turn and shot beat the Shirburnians keeper – who was clearly an outfield player filling in for the day.

But in between these two excellent strikes, the hosts had momentarily levelled the scores at 1-1 courtesy of a fine goal of their own – a long crossfield ball from right to left was superbly controlled by the winger before he launched a stunning shot into the near top corner from an acute angle. Such was the unlikely nature of the goal that several players stood motionless, wondering whether the ball had actually gone in. And this uncertainty only increased when a gaping hole in the net was discovered just behind the top of the post. Keeper Rory Craig was honest, however, confirming that he had been beaten legitimately.

The visitors continued to enjoy the better of things although too often the wrong option was taken in the final third, with players shooting when a pass or cross was the better choice and, on other occasions, eschewing clear opportunities to strike at goal to play an unnecessary extra pass. The introduction of Adam Graham, fresh from his five-goal heroics in the Festiphil competition, added fresh impetus to the Harrow attack and the 3s regular wasted little time in restoring the Blues’ two-goal lead, bullying the poor Shirburnians centre-back into submission from a long goal kick before comfortably beating the keeper from close range. When Taunton-Collins added an excellent fourth five minutes before the break, latching onto a fine pass through from Felix Orchard to fire into the far corner, the destiny of the three points appeared set.

Jack Robinson and Karl Obi were both introduced at the break but the opening quarter of an hour of the second half proved somewhat scrappy with neither side able to create any clear-cut opportunities. However, as the pace slowly dropped in the intense heat, two goals in the space of eight minutes ensured there would be no chance of an unlikely comeback from the home side. Adam Graham scored his second, taking advantage of some sloppy play at the back to stride through and beat the keeper, before Tristan David volunteered to convert a penalty following a foul on the same player, Lederman having just been substituted. The home side earned a late penalty of their own which was duly scored to leave the final result 6-2 to the men in blue.

A much improved display from the 2s then, and just what the doctor ordered following the disappointment of the opening day. The side can now look forwards to their first home game of the season and the visit of the Old Epsomians to the Hill.