OHAFC Vets and Bank of England produce a classic
The OHAFC Veterans put memories of the previous weekend’s disappointing Cup exit behind them with a thrilling 5-3 win over the Bank of England Supervets in Roehampton on Sunday morning. In glorious conditions in southwest London, the two sides put on a spectacular show, with eight goals, many of them of a quality rarely seen in Vets football, in a highly entertaining encounter.
In contrast with much that was to follow, the opening ten minutes provided little by way of goalmouth action, with the two sides working the ball around in midfield, probing for an opening. But the first suggestion the game may provide some stellar entertainment arrived soon afterwards, when a thumping clearance from centre-half Rich Bohan somehow rolled through the legs of the Bank of England goalkeeper, who frantically scrambled backwards in a desperate bid to prevent the ball crossing the line. It was dubious that he succeeded in his efforts, although with referee Matt Cannon in the middle of the pitch it was impossible for the goal to be awarded.
The following attack almost saw the OHAFC open the scoring in more authentic style when a cross from the right landed at the feet of striker Matt Davies on the penalty spot. The control was instant, as was the turn and shot, but the ball flashed just wide of the post and the Bank of England escaped. Pressure continued to build at the far end of the pitch however, with the OHAFC gradually turning the screw as the half progressed. Play became entrenched in the opposition half and it appeared only a matter of time before the opening goal arrived.
But it was the Bank who threatened next, hitting the Harrow crossbar with a header from a free-kick out wide on the right. And that close call preceded their best spell of the half as they finally got to grips with the Harrow midfield and began passing the ball with far greater certainty.
With neither goal having been breached as the game reached the half-hour mark, any suggestion of an eight-goal thriller would have seemed distinctly far-fetched. But four goals in the following seven minutes changed that and left the OHAFC in firm control.
It was, in fact, the Bank who struck first, racing upfield on the break following a couple of Harrow corners. With the big men labouring to retreat, one swift pass forwards left the striker with just the keeper to beat and he curled his effort beautifully into the far top corner.
But within five minutes it was the OHAFC who led. The equaliser arrived courtesy of a run through the inside left channel by Rob Findlay, who kept his composure well to dink the ball over the diving keeper and into the far corner. And soon afterwards skipper John Wyn-Evans struck with a rare goal not involving his head, finding time and space at the far post from a right-wing cross to plant a shot into the far corner – his second in consecutive games – could he finally have found his calling as a goalscoring midfielder after all these years (decades)?
The third goal, five minutes later, was an absolute peach as Simon McKeown collected the ball in midfield, looked up, and produced an inch-perfect chip from thirty yards out over the keeper, although there was some hesitancy from the opposition defenders in the build-up, Davies possibly offside as he ran through to collect a pass.
The goalscoring was now in full flow and the half-time break did nothing to stem the tide, with both sides finding the net once more inside three minutes. Indeed, straight from kick-off the Bank of England pumped the ball forwards, blocked several attempted Harrow clearances before a superb shot was fired over the Harrow keeper and into the net.
But the response from the OHAFC was emphatic, as Matt Davies scored one of the goals of the season, turning on the edge of the box before rifling an unstoppable effort into the very top corner of the net past a stunned Bank keeper to restore Harrow’s two-goal advantage at 4-2.
The black and white stripes kept up the pressure on their opponents’ goal, forcing numerous corners, but they failed to notch again courtesy of a lack of finishing prowess and one superb save from the visitors’ keeper, who leapt acrobatically to tip a rising shot over the bar.
And the result was back in the balance with just over twenty minutes remaining courtesy of another moment of quality from the Bank of England, this time in attack, when a midfielder produced almost a carbon copy of Simon McKeown’s chip with an equally audacious effort from 30 yards out.
And then, just a few minutes later, most players on the pitch were left laughing in amazement as an extraordinary sequence of events unfolded, the home side twice being denied an equaliser by the Harrow crossbar. A thunderbolt of an effort from long range cannoned off the woodwork, bounced down and was then returned goalwards by a spectacular hooked volley. Amazingly, the ball crashed into the bar once more before being hacked clear, the OHAFC retaining their lead by the slenderest of margins.
And three minutes later they made full use of that slice of luck when they scored a fifth to finally put the game beyond the Bank of England. There was a touch of comedy about this effort too, however, as a corner to the near post was cleared before being hammered back towards goal. Centre-half Gordon Baker ducked to get out of the way, but the ball cannoned off his back and fell perfectly for McKeown who couldn’t miss, five yards out with just the keeper to beat, he picked his spot and fired home.
The goal just about summed up one of the most entertaining OHAFC Vets games in recent seasons, both sides leaving the field with smiles on their faces following a hugely enjoyable game of football. The next scheduled OHAFC friendly is an inaugural game against the Old Kimboltonians on March 1st, although there may well be a fixture arranged prior to that.