A sunny winter Sunday at Paine Reserve was the setting for Barnestoneworth AA1’s final match of the first round of fixtures of the season against a Maccabi team down on their luck and without a win to their name this season. With the lack of rain an onlooker could be forgiven in thinking this game was a summer fixture with the brown grass stretching across Paine’s usually immaculate green surface.
Barney started with the same lineup and 4-4-2 formation as was used from the off last week after a strong performance against Queens Park in which they showed a lot of fight and desire that had been missing in the previous game. Gordon in goal with a back four of Jimmy, Joes Newman and Peters and Ian Boot at left back with his lucky vest on under his jersey. Lord Moore started on the right with Alex on the left and Merv and Dave Shannon holding down the fort in the middle. Walshy and Zla-Tom made up the front two, leaving a strong bench of Marty, Simba, Gaffo (with Pure Blonde in hand after a clean sheet) and Andy Porteous, who could be counted unlucky to miss out after a strong performance against Queen’s Park.
The conditions were a bit tricky with the dry pitch causing the ball to stick to feet a bit but the game started relatively quickly and Barney were first to the ball and put a lot of pressure on a Maccabi team committed to passing the ball out of the back. A couple of early chances were fashioned through the middle with an offside call each against Walshy and Tom meaning the score stayed at 0-0. Barney kept pushing and were having some joy up the wings. Ian Boot and Alex combined well up the left side with Alex getting in behind his full back and getting a good cross in on top of the keeper. Walshy got his head on it and the ball came back off the bar but Tom was there first, showing great desire amidst three Maccabi defenders, to volley home and give Barney the lead. 1-0.
Maccabi got more of a hold after the goal, keeping possession well but ultimately not doing much with it when coming to the final third. Barney continued to put pressure on Maccabi and continued to have joy down the left flank and it wasn’t long until Tom had his and Barney’s second goal. Some good build up play down the left flank with Lord Moore coming across the pitch to play a one-two with Alex who was in behind again and produced the square pass to Tom who made no mistake. 2-0 to Barney, who now had all the momentum.
Barney continued to have great joy on the break and the middle of the park and right started to come into it more as Maccabi paid more attention to Boot and Alex down the left with both having excellent first halves and having created both goals. Jimmy and the Lord Moore made some good progress up the right with the final pass not found to lay Chris in a couple of times. It was the right side though that produced the third goal. After a chance was cleared by Maccabi for a throw in on the right, quick thinking and a one-two between Lord Moore and Jimmy left Jimmy with the ball in some space who produced a pin point cross onto the forehead of an unmarked Walshy who nodded in off the post for a 3-0 scoreline and a comfortable lead for Barney.
Unfortunately this brought out something of a recurring theme for Barnestoneworth AA1 and they started to play the ball around a bit loosely and lost some of the hunger and desire they had been showing. This suited a Maccabi team who were capable of passing the ball when given the time and space and this resulted in a couple of half chances for the away side that went unpunished. However it didn’t take much longer when a move from Maccabi that went from left to right before a winger found space behind the defence to square a ball to the penalty spot. Maccabi’s left winger made a well-timed run between some Barney jerseys to put the finishing touch on the move and put Maccabi on the scoreboard. 3-1 Barney.
This gave Barney something of a kick up the backside and resulted in the home side gaining some more control in the game with Merv and Dave Shannon in particular coming into it more, breaking from midfield and creating problems for the Maccabi defence. As such it was no surprise the next breakthrough came after some great work through the middle which saw Merv streak through and in behind the away defence. Merv unselfishly played the ball to Tom whose energy and work rate was getting him in all the right places. He provided the required finish giving Barney a 4-1 lead and himself a first half hat-trick heading into half time. Just reward for a very strong performance from the big man, looking more Zlatan than Andy Carroll. Rumours of him referring to himself as a lion amongst humans in the changing room half time have not been confirmed by the club at this time with Director of Football Eddie making himself unavailable for comment other than to call this report “a big fanny”. His Football Focus performance only increasing his diva status in Sydney’s East.
The talk at half time was that it had been a good performance in patches but that we had to avoid the complacency in the second half that had plagued the team in other games this season. A change in formation to 4-5-1 saw Walshy slide to the left, Andy Porteous come on to the right side of defence with Alex onto the right and Lord Moore moving into the middle to combat Maccabi’s three man midfield and gain some more control in the game. It worked well straight off the bat withBarney doing well to hassle Maccabi through the middle and spread the ball well to the flanks, gaining a lot of traction and creating a couple of early chances, one of which lead to a corner on the right. Alex swung in a deep corner which found Walshy unmarked at the back post who forced a header towards the corner. The Maccabi keeper got hands to it but it squeezed into the bottom corner to give Barney a 5-1 lead.
Barney looked to consolidate on this goal to really put their guests to the sword but what followed was more Kamikaze than comfortable. With a touchline full of ravenous supporters already three sheets to the wind after an earlier victory for the AA2 and hungry for club treasurer Finn to put his hand into the coffers for the club favourite 8-1 romper stomper, Barney seemed to lose their heads. The raucous cheers of “Shoooooot ya wee lassie” coming to every Barney player lucky enough to end up with the ball at their feet in the final third resulted in a large number of efforts being taken on solo when other players appeared to be in better positions. This daring new formation of 4-0-6 saw shots coming in from all corners but ultimately producing no goals.
It wasn’t long then until the dream of a few free pitchers of Carlton in the Coach and Horses was extinguished. With little presence in midfield from Barnestoneworth, Maccabi put a good ball in behind the home defence which resulted in Joe Peters taking down their goalkeeper-cum striker in the box for a penalty. The second time in two weeks a Barney defender named Joe benefitted from the new no red card of it’s a penalty rule. Gordo made a strong save from the penalty but the rebound was put in to leave Billy, Ben et. al crying into their Pure Blondes on the touchline with the realisation they would need to dust off their wallets for some beers in the evening. 5-2.
As they had earlier in the match Barney reacted well to the goal and produced the move of the match for Barney’s sixth goal. The ball was worked out of the back well with Ian Boot and Lord Moore both involved as well as Merv and Marty, passing circles around the Maccabi players. A neat one-two on the edge of the box from Walshy and Marty saw Walshy through and into a foot race to the ball with the Maccabi keeper. Walshy won the race and lifted the ball to the middle where Tom was again in the right place ahead of opposition defenders to nod in his fourth of the match. 6-2 and a comfortable finish to come surely…
Nope. Back to our 4-0-6 formation and some fast and loose football proved entertaining for the crowd but left poor Simba so stressed on the sideline that he developed some colour back in his silver locks. With the loose formation the game started to go end-to-end faster than the Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors with both teams carving out plenty of chances. Maccabi got a free kick in the final third and a good ball into the box was put back across the goal. Joe Newman was first to the ball but was unlucky to see it end up in his own goal. 6-3 now the score and Jim so apoplectic he almost managed to get out of his camping chair on the left touchline. However, he only got half way up and decided to take his seat and get in Walshy’s ear instead. Some things never change.
For the first time in the game Barney did not react well to conceding and the game continued in the same manner as it had been with Lord Moore the only Barney midfielder spotted in his own half in the final 10 minutes of the game. Another free kick was conceded and while it looked too far out for a direct effort, the Maccabi player standing over it managed to find the top bin for a great finish and a scoreline of 6-4. This left Eddie so enraged that he was spotted in his Celtic themed Morris Minor doing donuts at the Hospital End of the ground screaming obscenities out the window in some form of ancient Scottish dialect.
Barney managed to hold on relatively easy from there in but it was a somewhat disappointing end to a game which started so bright. That being said this was still a good win that was never in any real doubt. A mixed first half of the season brought to a close by this win but with the squad’s understanding of how they play together with the injection of a number of new players things are looking up. It has traditionally been the Barney way to have a slow start and get stronger as the season goes on and based on what has been seen to date there should be no teams in the league that warrant any fear for this Barney team.
MOTM: Zla-Tom Ibrahimovich gets this decision pretty easily. While he described the goals as “four one yard screamers” his work rate was excellent throughout the game and it was no coincidence as a result that he was in the right place at the right time on four occasions. Honourable mention for Alex and Boot up the left side really opening the game up in the first half and setting Barney on their way.