Vets lose fractious opening friendly of 2018/19 season
The OHAFC Veterans opened their friendly programme for the 2018/19 season at a sunny Bank of England ground on Sunday morning, but their mood following a first ever encounter with Albion Vets was somewhat stormier.
The first half was evenly-contested with the visitors starting well and passing the ball confidently. In contrast, the hosts looked like they had enjoyed a long, hot summer without too much thought of the season ahead.
Several shots flew wide of Steve Summers' goal, the visitors, somewhat bizarrely wearing Heart of Midlothian kit, finally striking half an hour in when a cross from the right wasn't defended, the ball dropping invitingly on the penalty spot for a simple finish.
The hosts hit back shortly before the break when Lederman and Harry Hoffen combined on the edge of the box, the ball falling nicely for the former to slalom between two defenders before dumping the keeper on his pants with a dummy and thumping gleefully in.
But, frustratingly, the second half became dominated by squabbles over niggly challenges and disputed refereeing decisions, with the result that as tempers rose, the quality of the football dropped.
Hoffen gave the hosts the lead on the hour with an excellently taken goal, collecting a long ball down the inside right channel before cutting inside the last defender and calmly passing the ball left-footed into the far corner.
Albion had what looked a decent shout for a penalty denied and matters came to a head with twenty minutes remaining when Hoffen chased another long ball forwards only to be denied by a defender sliding in and pulling the ball back with his hands. The free-kick was clear, but arguments ensued for several minutes eventually leading to Albion's keeper completely losing his temper and throwing a wild punch at Bear Maclean. The unsavoury scenes were eventually ended with the referee telling both captains that any further nonsense would result in the game being abandoned.
There was still a somewhat unpleasant undercurrent throughout the closing stages, but this didn't prevent Albion snatching an unlikely win at the death.
The equaliser came via a corner and the visitors somehow failed to take the lead when they contrived to hit both the bar and the post in quick succession with Summers desperately scrambling around his goalmouth.
With just two minutes remaining a cross from the left was controlled and neatly volleyed in by the Albion left winger, much to the obvious delight of his teammates.
Despite the defeat, and the rather unpleasant nature of the second half, there were some decent performances from the OHAFC, with Harry Hoffen looking sharp up front, Bear Maclean working tirelessly in midfield and newcomer Rich showing he could be a useful addition - if the experience hasn't put him off returning!
Further disappointing news emerged following the game that both Witan Vets and Bank of England Vets - two regular friendly opponents of the OHAFC - are both now struggling to raise teams. The Bank have, ironically fallen out with their own ground and will not be returning. Witan meanwhile are struggling to get the numbers out for Sunday morning football. They are due to be the next friendly opponents in a fortnight's time - hopefully the game can be played.
Finally, later on Sunday the Old Carthusians were confirmed as the second round opponents for the OHAFC in this season's Derrick Moore Veterans Cup - Carts succeffully overcame Winchester 2-1 and will now travel to the Bank of England ground on November 11th.