Blues left to rue litany of missed chances

Old Radleians 1st XI
2 : 0
Old Harrovians 1st XI
  • January 20th 2024, Lincoln Fields (4G Astro), 12pm
  • Division 1
  • Referee: Salvatore Colavito
  • Weather: Cloudy, breezy
  • Pitch: Astroturf
No. Starting XI Goals Yellow & Red Cards Subs On/Off
1 Fraser McGuinness
2 Yunus Sert
3 Ed Beecham (c)
4 Cassius Kidston
5 Stan D'Angelin
6 Charlie Bick
7 Ali Buckley
8 Jamie Jordache
9 George Gould
10 Toby Gould
11 Oli Acar
12 David Lederman

The OHAFC 1st XI were forced to rue a series of missed chances as they fell to a second consecutive defeat in Division One, losing 2-0 away to the Old Radleians. The scoreline could have looked very different after a strong first-half showing that saw the visitors hit the crossbar no fewer than three times. But having failed to take the lead, the Blues were made to pay in the second half, the Radleians scoring twice in quick succession to record a win that just about keeps them in with an outside chance of promotion. For the OHAFC, three games now remain and any outside chance of finishing in the top two has all but disappeared.

Not for the first time this season, skipper Dan Firoozan, whose comeback from surgery on his ACL is progressing nicely, was forced to name a bare eleven for a 1s fixture. The Blues welcomed back Fraser McGuinness in goal and Cassius Kidston returned to partner Yunus Sert and Ed Beecham in a back three, Jamie Jordache and Stan d’Angelin the wing backs. Toby Gould featured for the first time this season, partnering Oli Acar up front, with older brother George in midfield alongside Charlie Bick and Ali Buckley. Star winger Will Payne was away with the Arthurian League Representative side as they began their run in the Inter League Cup.

Conditions on the astroturf in Whitton were excellent and the visitors made an equally fine start to the game, dominating the opening half-hour against a Radleians side that had, remarkably, drawn their previous three League games by scores of 4-4, 3-3 and 4-4. And the hosts could quite easily have found themselves 3-0 down here were it not for an unhealthy dose of bad luck and some profligate finishing from their opponents. The Blues somehow hit the crossbar three times in quick succession: Jordache sent a free header from a corner against the woodwork before Beecham did likewise. The same two players then combined in open play, the former crossing for the latter only for the effort to again bounce over after clipping the bar. At this stage it appeared only a matter of time before the Blues hit the front.

But the Radleians finally woke from their slumbers and enjoyed their own ten-minute spell of dominance as the half neared its’ conclusion. This time it was Harrow keeper Fraser McGuinness who prevented the deadlock from being broken, making two fine saves to keep the men in red at bay. A long throw from the left eventually saw a Radleian squirm past a couple of challenges before shooting from a narrow angle. McGuinness deflected the rising strike over the bar with his shoulder, the subsequent corner finally cleared. Then, from a cross that deflected off Yunus Sert at close quarters, the veteran keeper made another superb save, diving low at the foot of the post to prevent the ball creeping over the line. It was truly remarkable that the half-time whistle blew with the game still goalless.

The Blues were hampered in their second half efforts by an injury to George Gould, who was now struggling with a sore toe that had been clumsily stamped on. Younger brother Toby, who looked sharp throughout, dropped deeper as a result in a bid to add further ballast to the Harrow midfield. The result was that although the Blues remained solid in defence and continued to enjoy an even share of possession, their attacking threat diminished to practically nothing in the second half, Oli Acar too often left to forage on his own up front, the Gould brothers unable to impact the game as they would have hoped.

Midway through the half, with neither keeper having been unduly troubled since the interval, the hosts scored twice in quick succession to take a stranglehold on proceedings. Both goals were highly preventable from a Harrow viewpoint. The first came from a free-kick midway inside the Harrow half that was pumped into the box and confusion ensued. The original ball was cleared but was then sent back in, defenders dithered and the ball was sliced across goal into the far corner at the second time of asking. Jamie Jordache was then caught in possession trying to beat an opponent deep inside the Harrow half and the subsequent cross was superbly finished first-time just inside the post.

The visitors sent the powerful Beecham up front in a bid to kick-start a comeback but the tactic proved relatively ineffective. Toby Gould tried a couple of shots from distance but there was a lack of quality in the visitors’ play in the final third and the Radleians saw off the final minutes in relative comfort.

The Blues have just three fixtures remaining this season with home games against the Wykehamists and Salopians to come before finishing with a trip back to Whitton to face the Old Marlburians. A strong end to the campaign is needed if much of this season’s progress is not to be forgotten.