Things were not looking great in the days leading up to the first game of the season with only 11 players fit and available. However, with a couple of last minute signings and a certain fishing trip getting cancelled Barnstoneworth found themselves in a much stronger position come Sunday afternoon. This was despite club captain Chris Moore forgetting the kick off time and forgetting to pick Walshy and Dave Thompson up on route. He must have got a little bit carried away at the races on Saturday after finding out Ronan Keating was performing live.
Last week’s cup defeat to Glebe Wanderers highlighted a few flaws with Barnstoneworth’s preferred 4-5-1 formation. We were struggling to keep the ball when in attack which in turn put the defence and midfield under increased pressure. With this in mind Simba decided to play a more traditional 4-4-2 to try and give extra support to the usual lone striker.
BUFC lined up with debutant Gordon Munro in goal with a back four of Joe Newman at right back, David Thompson, Joe Peters in the middle and deadline day signing Sam Binks on the left. In midfield we had Jimmy on the right and Alec on the left with Dave Shannon and Merv in the middle. Walshy and Danny started upfront with Danny given a free role in front of the midfield. On the bench were Simba, Ryan Matthews, new signing Tom Laing and Andy Porteous who was back after a number of weeks injured.
Barnstoneworth started well and controlled possession in the early stages trying to work the ball across the back and out to either wing, utilising the wide pitch and avoiding the cricket wicket in the centre. The early pressure paid off when Danny beat a couple of players on the edge of the box and laid the ball off to Walshy who struck low into the bottom corner, 1-0 BUFC. Shortly after the re-start Dunbar had their first real chance of the match, a long cross field pass found its way to an unmarked Dunbar player on the left hand side. Joe Newman tracked back well and managed to get the tackle in but the ball bounced favourably for the Dunbar player who dragged his shot just wide. This was a bit of a wake-up call for Barnie who had been in control up until this point.
It turned out that this attack was a one off and it was the away team who continued to press. The front 2 continued to cause problems for the Dunbar defence and it was no surprise to see Danny score the goal of the game after about 15 minutes. Danny picked up the ball on the edge of the box with a number of players around him; he managed to work a couple of yards of space on the edge of the D and picked out the top corner with a great strike, 2-0 BUFC. It wasn’t long after this goal that Barnie had its first injury to contend with and it was no real surprise to see Dave Thompson hobble off clutching his hamstring, see you next week Dave for another 15 minutes. Simba came on at centre half but the change didn’t affect the game at all as Dunbar still offered nothing going forward.
Midway through the first half Barnstoneworth effectively killed the game off, some good link up play down the left hand side saw the ball fizzed into the front post which the keeper couldn’t deal with. The ball bounced kindly in the box for Walshy who just had to keep his shot down and on target with the Dunbar keeper stranded on the floor. The assist could have come from a number of players, Sam, Alec, Danny or even Jimmy despite him playing out on the right wing, no one knows. What we do know is that Walshy grabbed his 2nd of the game and made it 3-0 BUFC.
It’s not every week Barnie are so in control of a game and with Merv and Dave Shannon bossing the middle of the park Dunbar didn’t look like testing Gordon at all. Sam and Alec and Joe and Jimmy were seeing plenty of the ball out wide with cross after cross flying into the Dunbar penalty area but Barnie were unable to get that 4th goal. Sam went on a good run up the left and looked to have been brought down in the box but the referee waved away the penalty appeal. It was turning into a bit of a training match with everyone pushing forward to get on the score sheet and Barnie were starting to lose their shape.
Just as we were cruising into half time 3-0 up the game took a slight twist after a hopeful long ball down the Dunbar right. The winger got to the ball first and managed to get a cross into the Barnie box, with no striker in sight it looked as if the danger would be cleared but Simba had other ideas. A big shout of ‘Away’ seemed to frighten Simba who managed to trip over his own feet as he was running back to clear and stumbled in the 6 yard box burying the ball past the helpless Gordon. 3-1 and Dunbar suddenly had something to play for.
There was just one change at half time with Tom Laing coming on into centre midfield in place of Merv. Barnstoneworth started slowly in the second half as Dunbar came out much stronger than they did in the first half. We started to drop deep and with the wind against us Dunbar applied their first real bit of pressure in the match. A free kick on the edge of the box resulted in Gordon making his first save and a couple of corners in quick succession tested the Barnie defence some more. Dunbar came closest to a second from one of these corners as the ball bounced around in the area and fell to a Dunbar man 10 yards from goal. He was unable to keep his shot down though and hit the rugby post sticking out the top of the goal. Shortly afterwards another corner for Dunbar was only half cleared by Barnie and the second penalty appeal of the game was turned down. Dunbar’s number 10 went down far too easily in the box under a challenge from Joe Peters and the referee correctly waved play on.
It was about half way through the second half and Barnstoneworth had weathered the Dunbar storm. Ryan came on to replace Sam at left back and Merv was back on to give Danny a rest, pushing Tom into his preferred striker position. Despite being under some pressure from Dunbar, Barnie were still a threat going forward and it was only a matter of time before we scored our 4th goal. A more route one approach was needed to break down the Dunbar defence with Gordon launching the ball forward towards Tom and Walshy. Dunbar could not deal with the long ball and Tom found himself running through one on one with the keeper, he rolled the ball past him with a smart finish into the bottom corner, 4-1 BUFC.
The 4th goal took away any chance of a Dunbar come back and Barnstoneworth started to dominate the match once again. Andy Porteous was on for Walshy and had a great chance to get on the scoresheet after some good work from Alec down the right hand side. He skipped past the challenge and squared the ball to Andy who was unable to keep his shot down from about 10 yards out. Barnie were keeping the ball well and weren’t afraid to go back to Gordon and the defence if nothing was on going forwards. Dunbar were tiring and Barnstoneworth looked like the only team who would score again. Danny replaced Jimmy at right midfield and within a matter of minutes of being back on the pitch got his second of the game. Tom held the ball up well and managed to turn and run at goal with Danny making the run alongside in support. Spotting the run Tom slipped the ball through to Danny who smashed it high into the roof of the net to make it 5-1 BUFC.
Barnie saw the rest of the game out and came away comfortable 5-1 winners. Considering that a number of the 1st team squad were out with injury or unavailable this weekend it was a good performance and great way to start the new season. A special mention goes out to Walshy and Danny who grabbed a couple of goals each and to Sam and Tom who only got conformation that they could play on Friday night. Man of the match goes to Danny Owen who just edged it from Walshy and Dave Shannon who had a great game in the centre of midfield.
Barnstoneworth play Coogee United next at Paine Reserve. Let’s get a good turn out at training on Wednesday night and build on this performance next Sunday.