Harry Osbourne, 18, shines in Harps loss

David Falk brings the ball forward for Harpenden. Picture: Danny Loo

David Falk brings the ball forward for Harpenden. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Harpenden slipped to their second successive defeat on Saturday, going down to a solitary goal against Havering despite dominating the game for long periods.

A first-half goal from a short corner for Havering was the difference between the teams. Despite the loss, Harpenden skipper David Falk believes he may have uncovered a gem in Harry Osbourne, comparing him to Manchester United’s 18-year-old midfielder Adnan Januzaj, who has exploded on the scene with his exceptional play.

Falk said: “Once again, we have lost out by a solitary goal. It’s tough to take, but we are doing the right things we just need to find that little x-factor – but young Harry Osborne might be it.

“He’s on this journey now and I know how much he wants it. Honestly, he’s our Adnan Januzaj. I think he’s qualified to play for, like, four countries, so he is the brightest thing to come out of Saturday for me.”

The opening exchanges were evenly contested; Harpenden’s shape was balanced and their attacking options were starting to look threatening. Havering on the other hand promoted the ball quickly and looked for chances on the counter attack.

Against the run of play Harps conceded the game’s only goal from a penalty corner. Havering dragged the ball out and got the shot away, Harpenden got a stick to the shot but cruelly it deflected up and over Ben Brind in goal to give the visitors the lead.

Harpenden have not found goals easy to come by this season so any comeback would require a herculean effort. With this objective, Falk’s side showed tremendous spirit in the second half with the homes sides’ keeper producing a run of stunning saves to maintain the visitor’s slender advantage.

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Osborne led the charge. His pace and movement was really starting to open up the visitors’ defense. Linking with the experienced Barry Murphy, the teenager showed no fear as his skill started to expose the Havering back line.

In the final moments, Harpenden’s pressure told and they won possession down the right. Todd Baines drove the ball into the circle, and with his pass isolating the Havering keeper, the goal was open for Ali Hutson to tap into an empty net.

But, in a microcosm of Harps season so far, skipper Falk, in his desperation to tie the game, dived in to try and knock the ball in and in the mêlée ended up bumping Hutson off the ball, and the chance went begging.

After the game, a forlorn Falk said: “It’s about heart and character for us now. It’s obviously not been the start to the season we were looking for, but you have to move forward, it’s up to all of us to turn things around, find that little bit more.

“2Pac said it best: ‘It might seem that the rain’ll never let up, and when it rains it pours, but even though you’re fed up, huh, ya got to keep your head up.’ But that’s where we were - now it’s time to move into the sunshine.”

This Saturday sees the men’s first team back on the road, away at Ford, in what has already become a vitally important six-pointer.

• Elsewhere in the club, the men’s 3rds grabbed a great victory over local rivals Bedford, with the women’s 2s chalking up the result of the day with a 5-0 crushing of Letchworth.