After winning 6-1 in our last match confidence was high going into this week’s away game against Coogee B. We had a good turn out with Martin and Danny back from their camping trip, Joe Newman returned from the UK and Dave Shannon had served his suspension. It’s hard to change a winning team so Simba started with most of the 11 that beat Mascot Kings. The only change was Joe Newman in at CB for the injured Dave Thompson. With possibly the strongest bench in Barnstoneworth history we lined up like this:
Jimmy - Joe.N - Joe.P - Iain
Alec - Chris - Merv - Sam
Tom - Walshy.
Subs: Dave.S, Marty, Danny, Andy, Sick note (Dave.T).
After a slight delay waiting for the referee the game kicked off and Barnstoneworth made all the early running. Sam and Iain were getting plenty of the ball out on the left and fired in a number of early crosses towards Tom and Walshy to try and capitalise on the height advantage Barnie possessed. The best of these came from Boot, who put in a great cross for Walsy to attack; he got ahead of his marker but couldn’t quite find the net. With only 10 minutes on the clock Barnie won a corner that was whipped into the back post by Chris Moore, Joe Peters won the header but with a crowd of bodies in front of him was unable to hit the target. It was a great chance and looking back probably should have scored.
Barnstoneworth kept the pressure up, pressing from the front and not allowing Coogee time to settle on the ball. Another cross into the box and this time it was Tom who got on the end of it but it was too close to the keeper. Alec then stole the ball off the Coogee LB and headed towards goal, Walshy was making the run in support but Alec’s pass was cut out and the chance was lost. The chances were starting to pile up for Barnie with Alec getting played in again, it looked as if he would get the beating of the defender but was forced to cut back inside and Coogee got numbers back to snuff out the chance.
Coogee grew into the half as it went on and with the extra man in the middle of the park started to see more of the ball. They played the ball into the channels on a number of occasions and had a few shots from distance but there was no real threat of a goal. On the half hour mark though a nice ball over the top caught the Barnie defence flat footed and the Coogee striker was bearing down on Gordon in the Barnie net. The chase was on and Joe Peters tracked back and put in a last ditch sliding tackle on the edge of the box to clear the danger. The ball was only half cleared and a speculative shot from 30 yards ricocheted off Chris Moore’s boot onto his hand, the referee somehow gave this as a handball and Coogee had a free kick in a dangerous position.
Coogee’s winger stepped up to take the free kick and whipped it around the 5 man wall but Gordon made a good save and tipped it onto the post. Unfortunately the ball rolled across the goal line and the Coogee strikers were the first to react to make it 1-0. Poor defending from Barnie at the set piece and they found themselves 1-0 down against the run of play.
Barnstoneworth tried to stay positive but the set back of going 1-0 down was beginning to show with a number of players starting to get on each other’s backs, there was nothing personal in the moaning, just frustration at how the game was panning out. It seemed like every time Barnie moved the ball forward we would lose possession in a dangerous area and looked vulnerable against the Coogee counter attack. Each attack from Coogee came to nothing and I don’t actually remember Gordon having to make another save in the half. Barnie ended the half well though with a number of balls into the box looking for the equaliser. Unfortunately a nasty clash of heads saw Sam Binks come off injured after almost losing his front tooth and the half ended 1-0.
There were a few changes at half time, not for any bad performances just to mix up the shape a little and give us more in the centre of the park. Dave and Marty came on for Tom and Alec and Danny replaced Sam on the left. Dave, Marty and Merv now made up a three man CM with Walsh the lone striker in front. Chris and Danny were on either wing and the back four stayed the same. The changes seemed to make a difference with Barnie having a bit more bite in the middle and winning more 50/50’s. Joe.N and Jimmy were always looking to play out from the back and with the extra man in the middle had a few more options to turn too. There were a couple of half chances from crosses and the signs were looking good that we could get back into the game.
In typical Barnstoneworth fashion though, we were the masters of our own downfall. A soft free kick 30 yards from goal gave Coogee the chance to put in another cross which looked like a routine take for Gordon. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make it stick, under some pressure from the Coogee striker and the ball came lose straight to the feet of a Coogee player who poked the ball home from a couple of yards. Again more sloppy play from Barnie leads to a goal which seems to be a running theme of the season so far. 2-0.
It was frustrating to concede the 2nd after making a positive start to the half but with more than half hour still left to play we were still in with a chance. We continued to work the ball wide to Danny and Chris and Walshy and Merv had a couple of headers but we just couldn’t find the target. With us committing men forward Coogee were happy to soak up the pressure and hit us on the counter with the LM looking dangerous whenever he had the ball. They would work the ball into the channels well and kept the two Barnie CB’s chasing into the corners, creating space through the middle. These chances rarely led to anything more than a shot from distance though and there didn’t seem to be much threat of a third goal.
As the half wore on Coogee continued to defend their lead well and restricted us to a couple of half chances. Although when Chris stole the ball from the full back and made his run down the flank the opening looked on as Walshy, Merv and Danny were all hitting the box to support. Chris cut the ball back towards Walshy who let it run through to Merv who hit the shot first time but just sliced it wide. It looked like Merv had a bit more time than he thought and on another day would have buried the chance.
Barnie switched to three at the back for the last ten to push as many men forward as possible. It looked as if the formation change had paid off as a ball was sent into the box and flicked on to the back post. Chris Moore buried a diving header from 6 yards out but the referee, who was standing on the half way line, judged him to be offside. I’m not saying it was the wrong decision but it would have made for a more interesting final 10 if he had let it stand. Coogee’s keeper made a good save low down to his right and Danny had a header cleared off the line in the closing stages but time was running out for Barnie to get back into the game.
As Barnie continued to attack we left a couple of holes at the back and Coogee caught us on the counter a couple of times with the long ball forward. A little more composure In front of goal and Coogee could have added to the 2 goal lead. Coogee was happy to sit back and see out the final moments and it made it difficult for Barnie to find any space in the final third. A couple of long throws and a cross from Joe came to nothing and the game finished 2-0 to Coogee.
Looking back on the game it was a case of not being clinical enough when we had the chance and managing to concede from the few chances created against us. Nobody had a bad game it was just a case of things not clicking all over the pitch. We maybe went into the game a little over confident and Coogee were a better team than we may have expected and credit where it is due to them for taking their chances and limiting us to mainly half chances. The result proves that you can’t judge any team on their past results and we need to make sure that we go into every game with the same attitude. Its always hard to call a MOTM after losing and not scoring but I'm going to give it to Joe Newman. Not being a natural CB he dealt with the handy Coogee strikers well, and rarely put a foot wrong.
It’s not quite back to the drawing board as we still created a number of good chances and were the better team at times. It’s just a case of keeping our heads up and putting the work in on a Wednesday night. We have Redfern Raiders at Paine Reserve next week and I’m sure we will be picking up our first home win of the season.