Ruthless Salopians condemn Blues to fourth consecutive defeat

Old Harrovians 1st XI
0 : 4
Old Salopians 1st XI
  • February 10th 2024, Harrow School 4G Astro, 10:30am
  • Division 1
  • Referee: Kacper Ignatiuk
  • Weather: Cloudy
  • Pitch: Astroturf
No. Starting XI Goals Yellow & Red Cards Subs On/Off
1 Fraser McGuinness
2 Ciaran Jordan 80'
3 Ed Beecham (c) 55'
4 Yunus Sert
5 Talal Nsouli
6 Stan D'Angelin
7 Jamie Jordache 60'
8 Walid Nsouli 85'
9 Murray Barr 80'
10 Oli Acar
11 Will Payne
12 Ali Buckley 45'
13 Cyprian Owen Edmunds 45'

A disappointing OHAFC performance got what it deserved on Saturday when the 1st XI were comfortably beaten 4-0 by a very strong Old Salopian outfit on the Harrow School astroturf. The Blues fell behind to a superb long-range effort on the half-hour and never looked capable of regaining parity. The visitors extended their advantage ten minutes into the second half with another stunning effort and two late goals ensured the scoreline resembled more closely the gap in class between the two teams.

The hosts are NOW in danger of spoiling much of the progress made this season as they enter the final week of their campaign – four consecutive defeats, one goal scored and twelve conceded has seen the team drop to sixth in the Division One table, their lowest placing of the season, as they prepare to face the Old Marlburians. The Blues now also possess the worst goal difference in the entire division.

It was little to no consolation that following Saturday’s encounter the Salopians let on that this was by far the strongest side they had fielded this season, with several players making their debuts for the club. The Harrow lineup was strong enough itself, with the luxury of naming Cyprian Owen Edmunds and Ali Buckley on the bench. The main piece of team news revolved around the debut of sixteen year old Talal Nsouli, younger brother of Walid and already a member of the Harrow School 1st XI. Talal took his place in a back three alongside skipper Ed Beecham and Yunus Sert – two experienced heads to guide the youngster through the ninety minutes.

On a cloudy morning on the Hill the playing surface was immaculate with a glossy sheen ensuring the ball would travel quickly across the artificial turf. It took a while for both teams to get going, with chances few and far between in a competitive opening half-hour – to be expected given just two points separated the sides in the Division One table prior to kick-off. Jamie Jordache had Harrow’s best chance of the half, connecting with a cross at the far post only for the ball to be cleared off the line by a combination of keeper and defender, but it was the visitors who looked the sharper in attack, driven forwards by their superb central midfielder.

Fortunately, Harrow’s three central defenders defended manfully, with Talal Nsouli excelling on debut, confident enough on the ball to deliver several long crossfield passes in a bid to set the Blues in motion. The hosts forced a couple of corners but it was from a Salopian set-piece ten minutes from the break that the deadlock was finally broken: a throw-in on their left was delivered into the feet of the centre-back and he was allowed to turn before curling the ball majestically into the far top corner, McGuinness able only to brush the ball with his fingertips despite executing a full-length dive.

There appeared a slight air of despondency during the half-time team-talk, but skipper Ed Beecham rang the changes nonetheless in a bid to spark a recovery. Off went Murray Barr and Jamie Jordache, on came Cyprian Owen Edmunds – making his first appearance in six games following injury – and Ali Buckley.

But hopes of a recovery were dashed in spectacular fashion just ten minutes into the second half when the ball was played down the Salopians inside left channel and the striker ran on, cut inside on his right foot and smashed a shot in off the inside of the far post – a goal of sheer quality. The hosts responded as best they could, the sixteen year-old Nsouli offering another example of his quality and self-confidence when he embarked on a mazy run from the back past four or five Salopians before feeding Will Payne on the wing. The attack was eventually snuffed out however.

The Blues switched to a standard 4-4-2 formation at this point but it made little difference to the general flow of the game, with the visitors still looking the more likely side to add to their tally. Ciaran Jordan had a shot saved but it proved slim pickings for the home side and the margin of victory was doubled in the closing stages, the Salopians striker completing his hat-trick when he latched onto a ball over the top before firing in off the underside of the bar before tapping in from close-range following a low cross from the right – Harrow’s appeals for offside all in vain.

The Blues have little to play for in their final game of the season against the Marlburians on Saturday, but it would be a shame if such a promising season ended with a run of five consecutive defeats – something that has not befallen the OHAFC 1st XI in Division One since before the turn of the century.