Vets scrape into Plate semis with shootout win

28 Feb 2024

The OHAFC Veterans just about scraped into the semi-finals of the Derrick Moore Plate competition with a dramatic penalty shootout victory over the OId Reptonians on the Harrow School astroturf on Sunday morning.

A superb equaliser with ten seconds remaining from the Reptonians forced the shootout after the hosts had twice led by two goals. Skipper David Lederman converted no fewer than three penalties during the game, two in ninety minutes and one in the shootout. He also scored with a superb volley from the edge of the box and, along with Harry Hoffen’s effort midway through the second half, the OHAFC appeared to have secured a safe passage into the next round. But the Reptonians refused to go down without a fight and battled back from 3-1 and 4-2 down only to see two of their spot-kicks saved in the shootout by Harrow keeper Alex Fraysse. The responsibility eventually fell to Piers Bourke, Harrow’s sixth taker, to send the home side into the semi-finals and another home tie against either Lancing or Winchester.

This proved a classic Vets Cup tie with the usual mixture of plenty of goals, controversial decisions, comedic moments and, to top it all off, a penalty shootout. In stark contrast to the first round of the Cup this season, skipper Lederman was able to name a strong squad of fifteen for this tie, with the welcome return to action of both Orr-Ewing brothers, Jack and Will to the heart of the defence. Alex Fraysse took over in goal despite the superb performance in the previous round by Jon Ingram, without whom the OHAFC would have suffered an even greater defeat than the 8-1 mauling handed out by KCS Wimbledon. Elsewhere, Harry Hoffen made his first appearance of the season, partnering Matt Davies up front. Cater, Lederman, Bourke and Taunton-Collins formed a strong midfield quartet.

But things started poorly for the hosts on a crisp morning on the Hill, the visitors taking advantage of some very apparent rustiness in Harrovian legs to score inside two minutes. A ball down the left was well controlled and the forward turned Jack Orr-Ewing inside out before prodding a shot just inside the near post, Fraysse unable to prevent the ball creeping past him. It took the home side a while to get going, but as the half wore on the men in the black and white stripes began to play with more confidence, Cater very unfortunate not to score when he crashed a header against the bar following an excellent cross from the right. When the equaliser did arrive, it did so from the spot, Lederman converting after his cross from the left had been handled by the full-back.

Although there were some half-hearted Reptonian complaints regarding that particular decision, it was nothing to the absolute fury that greeted a second, far more controversial handball call against the visitors just before the hour-mark. The ball was struck from fairly close range against the upper chest of the Repton skipper and referee Neil Jenkins again pointed to the spot. Such was the nature of the complaints that one Reptonian was sent to the sin bin for ten minutes, several others warned. Once order had been restored, Lederman kept his cool to again send the keeper the wrong way, planting the ball in the opposite corner to his first effort and restoring Harrow’s advantage.

With the extra man the hosts took control of the game, somehow failing to add to their tally when Hoffen missed the simplest of chances from six yards out before Davies then headed against the bar from barely two yards out. Fortunately, the sustained pressure did bring a third and it was a corker, Lederman loitering just outside the box and connecting sweetly with a clearance from a long throw to send a looping volley into the top corner, earning the hosts breathing space and completing his hat-trick in the process.

But the visitors refused to go quietly and, once they had been restored to a full complement of players, pulled a goal back with a perfect cross from their right and a simple header past Fraysse from six yards out. Back came the OHAFC, Phil Berry the architect of the fourth with a fine run forwards from left-back that ended with him slipping the ball through for Hoffen to run onto. This time the striker made no mistake, rounding the keeper and slotting in with his left foot. Fewer than twenty minutes remained and the two-goal advantage had been restored.

Yet again, however, the Reptonians continued to cause problems, controlling the latter stages of the game with some confident passing and the sense persisted that there was still time for some late drama. And so it proved. With ten minutes remaining slight hesitation in the Harrow defence allowed a forward to run through and beat Fraysse and then, with seconds remaining, just when it appeared that the OHAFC had clung on for the win, a Repton free-kick was cleared five yards outside the box only for the ball to be returned in style, a clean strike arrowed towards the far top corner that left Fraysse with no chance and Lederman, who had remained stationed on the far post, unable to leap high enough to head clear.

So to penalties. The visitors won the toss and elected to go first but suffered an immediate setback when Fraysse guessed right first-time, diving to his right to save. Cater, Taunton-Collins and Lederman, off the post, all scored for Harrow, who led 3-2 after three penalties apiece. Repton scored their fourth but Warner’s weak effort was then comfortably saved and so the shootout instantly became sudden death. Both sides scored their fifth, Azhar Khan converting for the hosts. Fraysse then made another excellent save, this time diving to his left, and it was left to Piers Bourke to win it, comfortably beating the keeper to his left.

The OHAFC must now wait to find out their opponents for the semi-final with Lancing and Winchester meeting this weekend.

OHAFC Vets: Fraysse (GK), Warner, J Orr-Ewing, W Orr-Ewing, Berry, Cater, Lederman (c), Bourke, Taunton-Collins, H Hoffen, Davies, Wyn-Evans, Ingram, Gordon