A crisp, clear day greeted the lads as they arrived at Herfron Park, the scene of two away wins for the boys already this season, could we make it three out of three against a Coogee side that had beaten us 5-2 in pre-season? The pre-match talk was all about Liverpool’s epic failure in the FA Cup final, at least that’s what the Evertonians wanted to talk about, that and whether anyone had been to Al’s missus’ 30th to have a crack at the thirty-something single ladies promised on a midweek email. We also spotted a player in the preceding match wearing gloves. Not just any gloves… fingerless gloves… you know like the ones a paedophile would wear. It’s 17 degrees you blurt.
Paul announced the starting line-up – Marcel, Chris, Rich, Joe, Tony, Ronan, Dan, Fergal, Gaz, Nick and Wynton.
Coogee started brightly with some nice, intricate passing down their left and they were getting men into the box at every opportunity. Slightly against the run of play the first chance of the match fell to Barnstoneworth. Ronan played the ball in from the left, Nick pulled away from the defender and the ball dropped nicely to Gaz but his strike lacked the power to beat the keeper from the edge of the box.
Then, just as we seemed to be getting into our stride and creating some chances, some sloppy passing on the right gifted possession to Coogee, they broke forward with purpose and the ball fell nicely to one of their midfielders who smashed a low shot into the bottom corner. 0-1. Gutted.
Dan, Nick and Wynton all tried long-range efforts to get us back into the game, Wynton’s in particular seemed destined to drop perfectly over the Coogee keeper but he managed to get back and claw it away.
Moments later the Barnstoneworth lads were level. A deep cross over from the right dropped over the last defender and Nick did brilliantly to turn back inside and smash the ball home at the near post. 1-1, the volume rose and the Barnstoneworth boys had finally arrived winning the 50-50s and putting some hard challenges in.
The pressure appeared to have paid off when we scored a perfectly good goal, Dan running through to bury it, but the ref blew for offside basically because Coogee called for it. It was a theme that was to continue for the remainder of the game.
We were getting forward with more vigour and belief and after some interchanged passing between Gaz and Fergal, a strike at goal took a deflection and went out for a corner. Dan swung a peach into the box, the keeper stayed put and Joe rose highest to power a header low and into the back of the net. 2-1.
Coogee continued to pose all of their questions down their left and managed to get in behind a few times. Tony, Rich and Joe doing well to keep the score at 2-1 as we went into the break.
Half-time we recognized the danger coming down the left and the switch of Ronan to right mid helped nullify that outlet for Coogee early in the second half.
Now it was our turn to cause Coogee some problems down the right. Ronan, Al*, and Mark* passing nicely between them and giving the Coogee defence a lot to think about. Ronan broke forward and with the ball screaming to be hit, he unselfishly looked to play in Nick but Coogee recovered their ground and the chance went begging.
Tony was next to burst forward with a great run and one-two that so very nearly put Tony through one-on-one with the keeper.
The pressure was mounting and finally paid off when Nick played Al* through and just as Al pulled back the trigger ready to drill the ball home, the Coogee defender nipped in and very kindly did it for him. Cheers mate. 3-1.
Coogee, desperate for their first win of the season, really upped their game. They came forward in droves and courtesy of an awful lot of soft free-kicks, they were getting the ball into the box.
In came a corner, Marcel looked favourite to get there but the ball managed to sneak beyond the near post and dropped perfectly for a Coogee forward to tap it into the empty net. 3-2 and a good 25 mins left. We don’t make it easy for ourselves.
Coogee continued to throw everything but the kitchen sink at a resilient Joe and Rich, Chris kept them out at left-back and Wynton did well on the right. One attack down the Coogee right saw four of their men in space around the penalty area but fortunately the ball feel to Wynton who cleared well.
Barnstoneworth were breaking fast and playing some nice stuff down the right with Al, Mark, Gaz and Nick combining well. We could easily have had a fourth but for some unlucky finishing. Al and Dan with the best chances to seal the game but deciding instead that drama and intensity is a much more fulfilling outcome.
Coogee started getting desperate with one lad booked for diving and some clear frustration creeping into their play. Fergal doing brilliantly on countless occasions to nip the ball off them in the vital area in front of our back four.
Then came my favourite moment of the match. I can’t really remember what happened, perhaps Coogee were denied a corner, but their centre-forward threw one of the best tantrums I’ve ever seen. NOOOO! He Shrieked, as he fell to his knees and looked up at the Gods. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! He screamed again this time with a tone of horror in his tremmoring voice. Had he just been told that he had a debilitating disease and had only days to live? Had all of his shares suddenly bottomed out on Wall Street rendering him bankrupt? What could possibly have caused such anguish and pain? Ah, that’s right, he felt it should have been a corner.
One last chance again coming down the right, Mark and Gaz playing a nice one-two with Gaz driving into the box and looking to pick out Dan only for the ball to be cleared. The ref blew and we breathed a sigh of relief. A hard-fought win that we deserved. MOTM – Rich. Solid at the back and made some vital interventions when it mattered.