It was never going to be easy. No matches for 4 weeks, only two training sessions, and World Cup induced sleep deprivation were all working against us as we faced the team that beat us 4 – 0 on the opening day of the season.
Nevertheless, we arrived in a confident mood, keeper Gary sporting an England jersey despite Robert Green’s appalling fumble earlier that morning in the World Cup…could that have be an omen?
The Reg Bartley pitch was in reasonable condition with it’s characteristic concrete cricket square in the middle; the soggy edges and long grass holding the ball up down the wings.
Anyway, Barnstoneworth started well, some nice one-touch passing and possession play taking the opposition by surprise. Was this the same team they’d beaten 4-0 just a few weeks ago? Actually, no… there were 5 new signings on the pitch.
It wasn’t long before a sick Dave Rooney went on a signature run from midfield, hitting the ball from 20 yards and opening the scoring. 1-0 to the reds.
Two minutes later, a straight through ball to Dunbar’s striker tested Hammo’s bronchitis-ridden lungs and the scores were level against the run of play. Hammo went off and Irish Dave took to the field for what was later revealed to be his first competitive football match ever.
Rooney subbed himself for new signing #2, Adam, who held the midfield and distributed the ball well, working with co-debutant Stuart who cut strips off the Dunbar defenders twice his size down the left whilst Jack worked the right. A perfect cross from the left into the box, and pressure from Niall (you deserve a mention, at least), resulted in a Dunbar own goal. 2-1 to Barnstoneworth.
Dunbar came out for the second half with all guns blazing and some sustained pressure paid off for them when two own goals in as many minutes handed them the lead. Green’s curse had hit the red’s…Gary will never wear an England keeper’s jersey again, I’m sure. The air turned blue as a hitherto vocally restrained Queenie exploded and was happily subbed off.
Despite every excuse, Barnstoneworth remained positive and kept plugging away and eventually Michael found the back of the net to levelthe scores again at 3-all, which is how it ended.
A great example of what can be achieved if you keep your heads up and excellent teamwork from everyone, particularly the new players, and thirds have stopped the rot. Currently floating just outside the top 4, we’re still within reach of the finals.
Player of the match: Superfly Stuart Houweling