Late goals in both halves condemn Blues to defeat against the leaders

Old Harrovians 1st XI
0 : 4
Old Johnians 1st XI
  • January 13th 2024, Harrow School 4G Astro, 10:30am
  • Division 1
  • Referee: Joshua Soloway
  • Weather: Cloudy
  • Pitch: Astroturf
No. Starting XI Goals Yellow & Red Cards Subs On/Off
1 Tom Mitchell
2 Jamie Jordache
3 Stan D'Angelin
4 Ed Beecham (c)
5 Ciaran Jordan
6 Will Payne
7 Walid Nsouli 75'
8 George Gould
9 Murray Barr
10 George Taylor 60'
11 Oli Acar
12 Will Monroe 45'

Two late goals in either half saw the runaway Division One leaders the Old Johnians record an impressive 4-0 win over the OHAFC on the Harrow School astroturf on Saturday morning, extending their unbeaten League run to twelve games from the start of the season and practically ensuring their first ever promotion into the Premier Division of the Arthurian League. All that remains is for them to wrap up the Division One title with the Old Tonbridgians 2s, whom the OHAFC defeated last weekend, clinging on to their coat tails as the season enters its final stretch.

Despite the one-sided nature of the scoreline, perhaps slightly disappointing given last weekend’s excellent win, this was another strong showing from the OHAFC 1st XI, who enjoyed the better of things in the first half before falling behind to a breakaway goal and then a penalty. An excellent opening half-hour saw onfield skipper Ed Beecham leading from the front, breaking up Johnians’ threats and launching the ball forwards with authority. Indeed, the quality from the Harrow back five, with wide men d’Angelin and Payne, shone throughout, the visitors superb record clearly under threat. Harrow’s two best chances arrived from corners, Ciaran Jordan heading just wide before Beecham himself made a darting run across the front post only for his half-volley to fly just over the bar.

But just as the home side pressed for the opener, it was the Johnians who took the lead, taking advantage of a careless loss of possession in the Harrow midfield and springing forwards against the retreating back three. The ball was worked through and the initial shot forced keeper Tom Mitchell into a superb reaction save with his boot, the rebound was then heroically cleared off the line by Ciaran Jordan only for the ball to fall perfectly for the striker to then ram home from six yards out.

Things went from bad to worse for the home side five minutes before the break when Payne tracked his runner back into the penalty area only to clip him from behind, referee Josh Soloway immediately pointing to the spot. Mitchell was sent the wrong way, the Johnians midfielder opening his account for the afternoon, and the visitors lead was now two.

Skipper Dan Firoozan brought on lone substitute Will Monroe at the break, Walid Nsouli making way. The side switched from a 3-5-2 formation to a 4-5-1 with the aim of pushing further up the pitch, a positive result still very much possible given the encouraging first half display despite the careless concession of the two goals.

The second half proved a far more even affair, with the visitors showing the resolve that has carried them unbeaten in the Division to this point. Chances for both sides proved hard to come by, with the Harrow back four coping well with everything thrown at them, Mitchell relatively well protected in goal. The hosts were dealt a blow on the hour mark when George Taylor, making his first appearance since the heavy defeat to the Old Salopians at the start of December, limped off with a knee injury, Nsouli returning to the fray.

The game was still in the balance heading into the final quarter of an hour, but the strong Harrow resistance finally caved when Mitchell was beaten diving to his right from a powerful low shot from the central midfielder. And then, with just five minutes remaining and a tired Harrow side running on fumes, a free-kick on the edge of the box was superbly curled into the side netting, the Johnians midfielder adding to his earlier penalty.

Despite the final scoreline, the skipper was full of praise for his charges after the game. Beecham and Gould were superb down the spine of the team, with the side showing over the two games against the leaders that they are certainly capable of competing at the top end of this division going forwards. The Blues have just four games remaining now and, remarkably, will finish their season by mid-February such has been the condensed nature of their fixture programme. Next up is a trip to Whitton to face the Old Radleians, promoted from Division Two last season. The two sides are level on points in the middle of the table, so Saturday promises a close-fought encounter in southwest London.