Barnstoneworth United AA1's played their third game in the space of a week on Thursday night as they took on undefeated Coogee United A at Heffron Park.
Both teams were warmed up and ready to go for the 7pm kick off but unfortunately the designated referee was a no show. Fortunately ex-Coogee and ex-Barnie player Sam Palmer was on hand to don the black shirt and take charge of the game, and after a short summary of the rules the game got under way.
Barnie lined up in their familiar 4-4-2 formation with the only change from Sundays 3-0 victory being Sam Binks upfront for Walshy. Gordo in goal with Andy, Joe.P, Joe.N and Iain at the back. Alec, Dave.S, Merv and Chris in the midfield with Tom and Sam up top. Subs: Marty, Danny, Dave.T, Stevie, Matty and Simba.
Barnie looked to start with the same tempo as previous games and get into Coogee from the off with Dave and Merv getting stuck into anyone in a black and white shirt. The first chance of the match fell to Coogee and it was no surprise that it came from a set piece. The ball was floated aimlessly into the Barnie box clearing everyone's heads by a mile but after taking a nasty bounce of the wet surface Gordon was forced into a smart save to turn the ball around the post.
After this early scare Barnie started to apply pressure of their own with a number of dangerous crosses into the Coogee box. Tom came close with a powerful header and Chris blazed over at the back post after a great cross in from Boot. The signs were good for Barnie who looked like the only team who would score in the early stages. A corner whipped into the front post by Alec gave Barnie their best chance but no one reacted quick enough to get on the end of Chris's flick on that flashed straight across the goal line.
After dominating the half for long periods it was only right that Barnie gift the lead to Coogee in a way that only Barnie know how to do. Another long ball forward caught Joe.P flat footed but the danger looked to be under control as the ball was over hit and heading straight for Gordon between the sticks. However, as the ball bounced up off the wet surface and into Gordon's arms it some how spilled out and landed at the feet Coogee's veteran striker Ben who tapped into an empty net. An uncharacteristic mistake from Gordon who more than made up for it with some crucial saves in the second half.
Barnstoneworth didn't let the goal affect them though as they continued to press forward and put pressure on the Coogee back 4. Merv and Dave were still bossing the middle of the park and Alec and Iain were getting plenty of the ball down the left. Marty was on for the injured Chris and was linking up well with Andy on the right hand side as Barnie searched for the equaliser. Barnie forced a corner on the left hand side and Alec swung it into the front post, the ball took an awkward bounce and straight up onto the arm of a Coogee defender. Stand in referee Sam Palmer didn't hesitate and pointed straight to the spot and there weren't many complaints from Coogee. Zla-Tom stepped up and put the ball down on the sand pit of a penalty spot before taking a short run up and drilling the ball into the bottom corner. Great penalty considering the state of the pitch. 1-1. Sam blew for half time and Barnie were a little un lucky not to be leading at the break.
There were no changes at half time and Banrie knew they had to try and up the tempo after the break. Coogee came out a little sharper and continued to use a direct long ball towards their two strikers which kept the Barnie back four on their toes. Barnstoneworth had a target man of their own though and managed to get a lot of joy from Tom's flick ons with Sam running the channels and stretching the Coogee defence. We managed to get in behind the full backs a couple of times but the final ball was lacking and chances were snuffed out.
Coogee continued to press and with about 20mins to go one of their long balls paid off as vetran striker Ben flicked on for his partner to chase. Joe.N applied the pressure and forced him into an early shot, but Barnie's luck deserted them again as the harmless shot took an awkward bounce off the sandy penalty spot and flew over Gordon who was already on the floor ready to make the save. 2-1 Coogee.
The goal was a blow to Barnie and forced Simba into some changes with Danny Owen coming on for Marty. Gordo made a great save at his front post as Coogee looked to kill the game off and Barnie seemed to be under pressure. We were unable to keep hold of the ball and when we did get forward our final ball was deserting us. Coogee did get a third with about 15 minutes to play with Barnie being caught overplaying the ball on the edge of their own box. A Coogee striker stole the ball and was through on goal, but Godro was equal to him and tipped the shot on to the cross bar. Unfortunately for Barnie the ball came back off the bar straight to another Coogee striker who again tapped in from 6 yards out. 3-1 Coogee.
It was all or nothing now for Barnie with Matt coming on for Sam to give Barnie 3 upfront as they looked for a way back into the game. Going 3-1 down seemed to kick Barnie into life and they found the fight that has deserted them when falling behind in previous games. A free kick from about 30 yards out was floated into the Coogee box and Tom rose highest to flick it past the keeper who made the rash decision to claim the cross. 3-2.
It was all Barnie after that goal as we pressed for the equaliser with Tom winning everything that came in his direction. Matty and Danny were running the channels and this was causing all sorts of problems for Coogee. After another ball into the box Tom and Matt both attacked the back post with a number of Coogee defenders and the keeper. The ball was flicked towards goal by Matt and as he ran off celebrating the ball was hacked away by a Coogee defender. Barnie protested that the ball had crossed the line and after some serious deliberation the referee finally pointed to the spot and gave the goal. 3-3.
With only five minutes to go both teams were looking for a winner but it wasn't to be and the points were shared. Mixed feelings for Barnie after the match as we felt we were the better team in the first half and should have gone into the break in front. However, Coogee were much improved in the second half and coming away with a 3-3 draw after being 3-1 down is a positive.
This was our third game against a top three side in the space of a week and looking back two wins and a draw is a good return of points and puts us right back in the hunt for the title. We need to continue with the same attitude over the next few weeks, starting with Mascot Kings on Sunday.
Man of the Match: Dave Shannon