Barnstoneworth AA1 picked up their first win of the season on Wednesday night with a hard fought victory over Mascot Kings at L'estrange Park. After a disappointing defeat to Coogee the Sunday prior Barney bounced straight back on Wednesday night on what could be the turning point for the season.
Four defeats in the opening five games of the season have seen the reigning Grand Final winners languishing at the foot of the table with Mascot sitting just one place above. We knew going into the game that it was a must win fixture to have any chance of salvaging the season. We had a good squad available for the game despite a few injuries and players away. Barney lined up with Andy in goal and a back four of Scott, Grant, Joe and Sam, on the wings were Stevie and Chris with Merv and Luke in the middle and a front two of Tom and Walshy.
The first five minutes of the game started like most others with Barnstoneworth giving away possession too easily and inviting pressure. A quick break down the left hand side saw Mascot in behind and only a smart save onto the post from Andy prevented us going one down. Unfortunately the ball was cleared straight to a Mascot player who hit a speculative shot from about 30 yards which flew into the top corner, 1-0 Mascot with only five minutes played.
Mascot continued to apply the pressure early on and could have extended their lead as Barnstoneworth were caught over playing at the back. The Mascot striker stole the ball and got a quick shot away that flew wide of the post, this was a let off for Barney who needed to up their work rate if they were going to get something out of the game. A quick re-shuffle of the formation to three centre midfielders proved to be crucial with Barney starting to grow into the game as the half continued. A ball into Tom was well taken down, he beat his man in the box got his shot off but it was always rising and went just over the bar. The signs were good for Barnstoneworth and it only looked a matter of time until they equalised with Walshy also coming close from distance.
With the half coming to an end Barnstonworth broke down the right hand side with a good ball played into the corner for Walshy to chase. He beat his man and put the ball into the box towards Tom, both Tom and the defender missed the ball at the front post but Chris Moore was on hand at the back post sliding in to make it 1-1 at the break. A few strong words from Tom at half time gave everyone the wake up call they needed for the second half as it hadn’t been the best 45 minutes for Barney despite being level.
Barnstoneworth made a much brighter start to the second half with everyone putting in a lot more effort. Tom was chasing every ball up front and the midfield three didn’t allow anyone in a Mascot shirt time to settle. Even Sam tried to get involved down the left flank with an overlap only to be shouted at by Eddie for being too adventurous, ‘stick to defending you wee fanny’ could be heard from the side line.
Chris and Walshy made way with half hour to go for Charlie and Ben as Barney looked to push on for a winner. Charlie injected a bit of pace to the right and instantly got at the Mascot back line but his shot from distance sailed over the bar. The back four were hardly troubled in the second half with Grant winning every 50/50, much to the frustration of Mascot who were increasingly just looking for the long ball over the top.
With time running out it seemed like it might be one of those nights where the ball wouldn’t go in. Tom blazed over from a tight angle and Ben just could apply the finish after being played through one on one with the keeper, who did well to stand up and make the save. It was getting to the stage where we needed a slice of luck or a piece of brilliance to take the points, step up The Bus Conductor.
Charlie picked the ball up out wide and cut inside onto his weaker foot as he beat a couple of Mascot defenders. With Tom and Ben looking for the pass Charlie decided to do what everyone didn’t want him to do and let fly with the outside of his right boot from 30 yards. The shot caught the keeper of guard and he was scrambling to get across his goal to make the save, but Barnstoneworth finally got the break that the second half effort deserved and the ball flew into the top bin. It was a great strike from Charlie and it was 1-2 to Barney with just over 5 minutes to play.
Mascot committed some extra bodies forward as they looked to get an equaliser but this just created more space for Barney to exploit. Charlie’s screamer was almost trumped a minute later as first team debutant Scott cut out a sloppy Mascot pass and let fly with a half volley from a similar distance. The ball swerved and dipped but unfortunately came back off the underside of the crossbar and Mascot managed to clear their lines. The game was put to bed in the final minutes as Ben was put through again, with some quick feet to beat the defender he made no mistake with the finish this time and rolled the ball beyond the keeper to seal an important 1-3 victory.
It was an important win for Barnstoneworth and we will take the positives from the second half performance into Sunday’s game against The Eagles as we look to get our season back on track. MTB!
Man of the match: Tom, worked tirelessly up front on his own in his first game back from suspension.