Vets earn first OHAFC win of the season!
The OHAFC Veterans became the club’s first side to win a game this season when they produced a lethal counter-attacking display to defeat the Old Witans 3-1 in a friendly on Sunday morning. Despite enjoying minimal possession in both halves against a strong Witan side, the hosts broke forwards to devastating effect to score twice prior to the break with debutant Azhar Khan involved in both goals, teeing up Dom Danos for the first before converting a cross from Matt Davies for the second. Davies himself made it 3-0 after the break when he smashed home following a pinpoint cross from Piers Bourke, with Witan only able to reply via a late penalty following a handball inside the box.
It was a hugely enjoyable performance from the black and white stripes, who fielded a strong squad of thirteen for just their second outing of this disrupted season – their only previous fixture had been another friendly against the same opponents back in early October, the two teams playing out a feisty 1-1 draw. Will Orr-Ewing made his Vets debut alongside Azhar Khan and he was partnered at the back by Gavin Milne, who himself had not been seen in Harrow colours for some time. The midfield quartet looked a strong one, with Paul Molloy partnered in the centre by George Thorpe, Ru Hoffen and Khan occupying the wide positions. Ben Durling made his first appearance of the season at left-back, with a strong bench of Mumtaz Habib and Piers Bourke waiting for their opportunity.
With such a strong side, skipper David Lederman, once more deputising in goal due to a lack of a proper keeper and the fact that he had played an hour for the OHAFC 1s the day before, expected his troops to enjoy plenty of the ball and play the majority of the game on the front foot. The longer the first half wore on however, the clearer it became that this would not, in fact, be the case. The Witan midfield proved equally adept at manoeuvring the ball, with a couple of players switching play well from side to side. The more the hosts were starved of possession, the deeper they dropped into their own half. But there were few alarms for the skipper in goal, with Orr-Ewing and Milne both reading the game superbly. As a result, Witan were limited to a few speculative through balls, all of which Lederman collected with some ease, and a couple of corners, both of which were cleared.
Having barely threatened the Witan penalty area, let alone goal, the hosts suddenly sprang into life midway through the half when a quick break down the left saw Durling feed Azhar Khan and he produced a perfect square pass for Dom Danos to run onto and comfortably finish past the Witan keeper. If the visitors were scratching their heads after falling behind, they were furious when an identical counter saw the lead doubled just a few minutes later, this time Matt Davies supplying the final pass and Khan producing a superb finish to cap an impressive first outing in the black and white stripes.
Bourke and Habib replaced Milne and Khan on the half-hour mark but the changes did little to alter the pattern of play in the remainder of the half, with Witan continuing to dominate the ball but struggling to break down the well-organised Harrow rearguard. The closest the visitors came to pulling a goal back was a long shot from outside the box that beat Lederman but cannoned back off the crossbar and at that point Witan probably knew their luck was out.
The second half mirrored much of the first, with the OHAFC again struggling to gain a foothold in midfield, although the front players still looked a threat on the break, especially down the left hand side where Bourke was his usual tireless self, combining with the front pair of Matt Davies and Dom Danos as often as possible.
Witan became increasingly exasperated as shots from rang flew high or wide, through balls were either cut out by the back four or read well by Lederman and set-pieces were, more often than not, comfortably dealt with. There was one exception, when a thumping header from the towering Witan centre-back was scrambled clear off the line, but otherwise the hosts held firm.
And just past the hour mark the result was put beyond doubt with yet another clinical breakaway goal, Bourke driving down the left before squaring a pass across the edge of the box. Matt Davies produced a superb finish, taking a touch to steady himself before slamming the ball low into the far corner.
The visitors kept plugging away despite the one-sided nature of the scoreline and earned a late consolation from the spot when Gavin Milne was penalised for handball. The shot was drilled into the top corner and Witans finally had a tangible reward for their dominance of the ball.
The hosts suffered a couple of late injuries with both Ben Durling and Ru Hoffen hobbling off with muscular problems but the remainder of the game was played out without further cause for alarm and the OHAFC could finally celebrate a first win of the season in any competition.
The Vets now take their Christmas break and hopefully their next fixture will be in the Derrick Moore Cup against the Old Salopians.