3s hold on to reach DWT quarter-finals

Old Harrovians 3rd XI
3 : 2
Old Cheltonians
  • February 3rd 2024, Philathletic Ground, 10:30am
  • DW Trophy
  • Referee: Neil Jenkins
  • Weather: Cloudy, breezy
  • Pitch: Good
No. Starting XI Goals Yellow & Red Cards Subs On/Off
1 Fraser McGuinness
2 Toby Colehan 75'
3 Charlie Dunn (c) 55' 75'
4 Simon Nicholson 45'
5 Felix Tritton
6 William Brounger 75'
7 Ibi Akhtar 45'
8 Daniel Graham 69'
9 Tobi Adebayo
10 Adam Graham
11 Freddie Everett 61' 45'
12 David Liu 30'
13 Ollie Wilson 30'
14 Khalil Baoku 30'

The OHAFC 3rd XI just about held on to secure their passage into the quarter-finals of the David Woolcott Trophy on Saturday morning, earning a 3-2 win over Division Five side the Old Cheltonians on the Phil and thereby earning a measure of revenge for the defeat on penalties suffered against the same opponents at the same stage of the competition two seasons ago. Following a scrappy, goalless first half, the home side appeared to have taken a stranglehold on the tie when three goals in quick succession from Charlie Dunn, Freddie Everett and Dan Graham saw the Blues open up a three-goal lead. But the Cheltonians had other ideas, scoring twice themselves in the space on five minutes to set up a nervy final few minutes. Fortunately, the hosts held on and now await the winners of the Old Canfordians versus the Old Kingstonians tie to discover their opposition in the quarter-finals.

3s skipper Joss Awdry, forced to watch from the sidelines due to his troublesome knee injury, was able to name a full squad of fourteen for the tie although he received help from keeper Fraser McGuinness and midfielders Will Brounger, playing his first season of OH football, and Ibi Akhtar, who was making his first appearance of the season for the club.

The lower Phil pitch appeared in better nick than the adjacent one and the game started with little wind to speak of, albeit five minutes late due to the visitors’ late arrival at the ground. The Cheltonians missed out on promotion from Division Five by a single point last season and find themselves in a similar position now, sitting in third in the table, albeit with plenty of work to do to catch the Old Johnians 2s in second. But the visitors found themselves under early pressure on the Hill, the Harrow midfield of Brounger and Akhtar showing early signs of promise despite having never played together. The Blues won plenty of the ball but struggled to create many clear-cut chances – Freddie Everett missed the best opportunity when he was played clean through the middle only to place his shot just wide of the post.

The Cheltonians rarely threatened the Harrow goal as the half became a scrappy affair, Tritton and Simon Nicholson providing a good level of protection in front of McGuinness. But the Harrow keeper was forced to make one save, a long throw from the left arriving at the feet of a forward and his mishit shot nearly found its way in, only for McGuinness to throw out a leg and kick the ball to safety. Half-time arrived with the game still goalless and all to play for.

Skipper Awdry rang the changes at the break with all three substitutes having already been introduced earlier in the first half. The hosts had been the better side in the opening forty-five minutes, they just needed to play with more accuracy in the final third to turn their superiority on the pitch into superiority on the scoreboard.

The Blues were aided in their second half efforts by a strong breeze suddenly rising and blowing at their backs. And with the slope down towards the Alcock now in their favour, the hosts made another strong start to the half. It took ten minutes for the breakthrough to arrive and when it did so it proved to be in rather odd circumstances. A corner was won on the left and Charlie Dunn whipped the ball in towards the near post where, remarkably, it was allowed to continue unimpeded into the back of the net, the keeper and defenders failing to react. Five minutes later it was 2-0 as substitute Khalil Bauko ran down the right and crossed for Everett to atone for his earlier wastefulness with a fine volleyed finish past the keeper from close range. And when Dan Graham then beat the Cheltonians keeper from thirty yards out with a long range effort that dipped just under the crossbar it appeared as though the final twenty minutes would prove a mere formality for the Blues to see out.

But the home side made their life far harder than they needed to when they themselves then conceded two poor goals in the space of five minutes to set up a tense finish on the Phil. A long ball over the top saw the Cheltonians striker just nip in ahead of McGuinness to reach the ball first and his cross was turned into the empty net from close range as Si Nicholson lunged in to block. Then, a long free-kick was lumped into the Harrow penalty area and eventually arrived at the feet of a forward who struck a low shot beyond the keeper’s right hand, the Harrow defenders failing to clear their lines.

Fortunately, the final ten minutes saw few chances for either side and so it was with a sigh of relief that the men in blue greeted the final whistle. The OHAFC 3s have reached the quarter-final stage of the competition four times previously but never gone any further. With potential opponents the Old Canfordians struggling in Division Five and the Old Kingstonians bottom of Division Four, they are unlikely to have a better chance to break that particular hoodoo.