Sydney University Vs Barnstoneworth Utd
Super sub Paul Jones came to the rescue with a late goal as Barnstoneworth Twos finally returned to winning ways with a hard fought 3-2 victory over the children of Sydney University.
Goals from Gary Stark and Ian Rogers had earlier put the reds in a strong position before a characteristic defensive lapse allowed the adolescents to force a tense finale.
After two consecutive losses, manager Neil Baker had made it clear that the match represented a must-win game, much like the previous four fixtures. And despite being more than 10,000 miles away, the pre-match team talk was dominated by Ben Grant’s length.
After a robust debate as to whether the sadly departed Grant’s length was a good or bad thing, Barnstoneworth settled on an alternative tactic for throw ins.
As the teams prepared to kick off it became clear that an earlier downpour had given the pitch a nice sheen, making for perfect football conditions. However, as the referee was preparing to blow his whistle, a passing park ranger decided the conditions were in fact too good to be wasted on the people who pay his wages. The junior jobs worth – whose vacant stare exposed a man who was both stupid and committed to the nanny state in equal measure – called the game off so as not to ruin the pitch, meaning Barnstoneworth were facing a Sunday afternoon without football.
However, just as all seemed lost one of Sydney University’s senior players took charge and saved the day. The 17 year old made a phone call and managed to book a pitch across town in the university’s grounds.
After a 25 minute drive, via McDonalds, the two teams reconvened on a rectangle of weeds and sand in the heart of the university grounds. The post-Grant (PG) era was set to begin.
From the first whistle it became apparent that the opposition should have requested parental guidance before lining up against the rabid red and white stripes of Barnstoneworth who were eagerly snapping into tackles against their junior opponents.
The visitors started confidently, imposing their expansive passing game on proceedings, and were quickly rewarded with a penalty after Barry Nolan was clipped after rounding the University goalkeeper. Nolan dusted himself down to take the kick himself but, ever the gentleman, decided it would be rude to score first after the students had been so helpful in relocating the match and so tamely, and deliberately, rolled the ball wide.
Five minutes later and Sydney University had the goal their pitch-switching deserved. After Barnstoneworth failed to clear a corner the ball dropped to a university player surround by red shirts and with his back to goal. He cheekily back heeled the ball from 10 yards out, which found the corner of Ken Cogley’s net after passing through several sets of Barnstoneworth legs. 1-0.
This goal against the run of play inspired Barnstoneworth to embark on their most dominant period of the match with intricate tika taka gracing the swamp. And they weren’t to go unrewarded, with a delightful eight man move culminating in an equaliser when Nolan picked the ball up on the left and released Baker down the flank. The manager got to the by-line before cutting the ball back for Gary Stark to finish with aplomb. 1-1 – Liquid football!
The midfield three of Joe Ward, Adam Smith and Baker were now combining well, strong in the tackle and confident in possession. And it was during this period of sustained pressure that Barnstoneworth managed to take the lead after a blocked cross rebounded to Ian Rogers to the right of the penalty area.
Rogers showed composure in getting his head up and identifying teammates in the box. In fact, Rogers did everything right, up until the point of actually kicking the ball, when a complete shank saw it sailing over the keeper’s head and into the net. However, with Rogers’ eyes still trained on the penalty spot he’d been aiming for he only realised he’d scored when he was mobbed by celebrating teammates.
With Barnstoneworth now well on top and perfectly executing the manager’s pre-match game plan, Baker felt it was the right moment to scream at his players and threaten to substitute all of them. The remainder of the half passed with Barnstoneworth enjoying the lion’s share of possession, despite a couple of scares.
The second half saw the visitors revert more to the bumbling shambles we’ve come to know and love in recent weeks, after the physical side of the game kicked in. With the match having kicked off late several of the young university players, who weren’t used to being out after dark, started flying into tackles as they became rattled by the failing light.
The increased needle in the match evened the contest up, throwing Barnstoneworth out of their pleasing-on-the-eye passing style, and leading to a more end-to-end scrap. It was during this frenetic period that Sydney University were able to draw level after Barnstoneworth predictably failed to clear their lines and conceded a corner kick.
From the resulting cross the ball came loose in the box, where Smith decided the best way to relieve the pressure would be to execute an overhead kick while waving at the sidelines. Unfortunately the ball only made it to the edge of the area, where SU’s very own Doogie Howser MD-style 13-year-old prodigy took a touch before smashing it low and hard to Cogley’s right, giving the keeper no chance. 2-2
SU now had their tails up and were increasingly relishing the physical aspect of the game. Chris Neale bore the brunt of this added aggression after clattering a forward who appeared to be going through the emotionally-charged stages of puberty. After an exchange of words, Neale pushed the hormonal youth too far by making a threatening comment. The adolescent fixed Neale with the calm, icy glare of a child who’s finally had enough of having his sweets stolen by the local bully, and simply said: “I wouldn’t….I really wouldn’t.”
Neale was subsequently withdrawn for his own safety, giving Stuart Frampton the opportunity to make his long awaited return from the stubbed toe he suffered in the season opener. He showed impressive energy and anticipation, on several occasions nipping around his forward to intercept the ball. Frampton Junior’s performance provided an acid flashback for his elder, creaking sibling, who vaguely recognised how he used to perform before Old Father Time ravaged his mobility. (Any chance of Frampton Junior being lauded as a hero disappeared shortly after the final whistle, when it was revealed that he had been taking erotic action photographs of Adam Smith while on the sidelines. Smith had asked for the pictures to be taken so as to be able to update his bedroom’s “Adam Smith Wall”.)
The game was up for grabs now, and with 10 minutes to play it was Barnstoneworth who seized the moment when the ball broke invitingly in the SU box. It was a heart warming moment, with Nolan and Jones demonstrating the chivalry that has made Barnstoneworth such a well-respected unit within the eastern suburbs.
Despite the pair each having the perfect opportunity to strike the ball they instead politely, and repeatedly, offered each other the chance to kick it. After approximately eight seconds of “after you…”, “no, I insist, age before beauty” etc., Jones blinked first and reluctantly stroked the ball under the keeper’s despairing dive to restore Barnstoneworth’s lead.
With time running out and tempers continuing to fray, Old Man Rogers displayed his disdain for the youth of today by getting stuck into one of the youngsters by the touchline. There was a moment where the situation looked like it could escalate but, fortunately for the minor, another Uni player was on hand to pacify the situation and remind Rogers that his adversary was “only a kid”. Rogers took the point and instead reverted to his 90 minute tirade against the referee.
There was still enough time for a final scare for the visitors, after an SU midfielder broke clear to be one-on-one with Cogley. Despite having a clear sight of goal he decided to square the ball for a teammate to pass into the gaping net, only to discover that the overly eager striker had strayed into an offside position.
That was that, and Barnstoneworth were able to hold out for the final whistle and a much needed three points.
Final Score – Sydney University 2 – 3 Barnstoneworth Utd
Man of the match: A tough one this week as there were so many notable performances, including that of all four substitutes. However Macca gets the nod ahead of Smithy and Jonesy for his endless work rate up and down the left flank.