Lions tamed at Centennial
Sunday turned out to be a stroll in the park for the Barnstoneworth boys who completed a
4-1 mauling of Lions FC at Centennial to continue their unbeaten start to the season.
By the time this reporter arrived, Barnstoneworth had stormed into an early lead despite the blustery conditions. A long ball from big Marcel was launched downfield and knocked on by Ronan. Danny was on hand to pick up the scraps and stab it home from 6 yards (this is how Mark Johnston described it anyway).
The boys kept the pressure up with some nice football, pressing Lions back into their own half. Up front, fans’ favourite Andy – better known as the Black Stallion – failed to find his shooting boots, spurning chance-after-chance as he pranced around the paddock.
Without the touch-line backing of his WAGs, this man looks like a shadow of himself. Clearly lacking confidence, the Stallion hoofed around eight shots over the bar in quick succession, before trundling another two pass-backs straight to the Lions’ keeper. Not one for keeping his trap shut, the Stallion was quick to lay the blame on ‘the feckin wind’ and anything else he could come up with.
Barnstoneworth were bossing the game, and Peter Jones was linking well with the front men with some nice passing. But it was the Jonesy throw-in which really got the crowd going. Somehow the ref missed several foul throws into the Lions’ box, with the boys gaining an unfair advantage from the Jonesy missiles.
The constant pressure soon paid off with the second goal coming after 20 minutes – and from an unlikely source. A good move down the left saw the ball cut back neatly to Anto who calmly finished from 8 yards. A real collector’s item from the Irishman, who’s first strike of this campaign ensured he surpassed his goal tally from last season.
This pressure was relentless, with the third goal coming amid bizarre circumstances. Left back Paul Hartley raced into the box and hit a shot which took a wicked deflection off the Lions defender and landed in the net. The ref was slow to signal the goal – and with no celebrations on the pitch – the crowd on the sidelines were unsure if the ball had crossed the line.
There was one more goal before half-time, which came from a flurry of corners. The ball broke to Big Al who scuffed it along the ground from 12 yards. Somehow it made it through a sea of legs to hit the net.
One other highlight was Ronan being kicked 10 feet into the air by one of the Lions defenders wearing a Hamas headband. The crunching challenge was applauded by Bruiser – a man who this season has done his best to keep his colleagues in the Emergency Department at Randwick working overtime.
At half-time, Barnstoneworth’s fiery Scottish coach Billy Lettuce was insistent the score was ‘still fackin nil-nil and I don’t want any of yous wee gadgies playin oot of position by trying to get yersel a goal’.
His sage advice went unheeded, with Barnstoneworth making a dreadful start to the second half. So much so that coach Lettuce was seen bursting from a cloud of cigarette smoke to launch a stinging attack on the boys for their wasteful passing.
Lions were in the ascendancy and quickly won a free kick 30 yards out on the right. The Lions midfielder decided to have a crack and curled one straight down the middle. Marcel tried to apply some of his Continental keeping skills by punching clear, but only succeeded in punching the ball straight into the top corner.
As the half wore on, things were looking a bit disjointed. The midfield was clearly missing the guile and craft of midfield maestro Houston, who last week fell victim to a vicious arachnid attack and was forced to watch from the sidelines.
But in the end, it was a comfortable and deserved win for the boys, who in a scintillating first half reduced the roar of the Lions to a whimper.
Player ratings (out of 10)
Marcel – Nothing to do all game, but when called upon to do something, did nothing. 6
Skipper John – Lumbered forward for a few corners, but didn’t get lucky this week. Solid at the back. 6
Bruiser – Clattered six players in one tackle and somehow ended up the only man injured.
Relatively untroubled at the back. 6
Jonesy – To the delight of onlookers, only six foul throws committed – a personal best – and none
were spotted by the ref. Comfortable on the ball, good range of passing to the frontline.
STAR MAN. 9
Hartley – Slotting in well at left back, rampaged forward to claim a deflected goal. Smoked 10 fags in
the first half. 7
Darren – Industrious, but ineffective. Some misplaced passes, clearly missing Houston’s influence in
the midfield. Good work rate. 5.5
Sean – Played like an old VW golf of mine – never got out of 3rd gear. A stroll in the park for the
all-action Scouser. 7
Anto – Finished his goal well, but was posted missing in action in the second half. 6
Black Stallion -Around 15 shots registered, one of which was saved well by the keeper. Still learning
there’s no ‘I’ in team. A disappointing game for the talisman who has got a lot more in his
Ronan – Couldn’t buy a goal at the moment, and with the Black Stallion’s lack of passing he could
be in for a long wait. Good work rate and sustained his obligatory injury mid-way through
the first half. 7
Danny – Got his customary goal, and an uncustomary booking. Is this a new wild side to Danny
we’re seeing? Let’s hope so. 6
Pete – Untroubled at the back, no suicide passes this week. 6
Ricky – A few rampaging runs down the left wing. Looked dangerous on the ball – as in a danger
to himself and everyone else. 6
Daz – Kept the ball down well, played the right pass. What you’d expect from the Norn Irishman. 6
Big Al – An eventful game for the big man. A rare burst into the box brought his goal. Unfortunately
this was quickly followed by a lunging challenge that burst his hammy. 6.5
Mark Johnston – Some brutal one-liners on the sideline this week. 6