With an unexpected loss and then a hard fought draw Barnstoneworth United AA1 were looking to get back to winning ways this week against a Coogee United B side who were making a late push for the top 4. Barnstoneworth lost the reverse fixture earlier in the season so were looking to redeem themselves this time round.
With a number of players back this week the squad was looking far stronger than last weeks draw with Dunbar where 6 or 7 first team players were unavailable. We lined with our usual formation, Gordo in goal with Dave T, Simba, Joe P and Boot making up the back 4. Alec and Stevie on the wings and Merv and Dave Shannon back in at CM. Danny and Tom started upfront. Subs: Joe N, Walshy, Nick, Dave Sleight.
Barnstoneworth started the game with their usual high tempo which seemed to catch Coogee by surprise. We were pressing all over the pitch making it very difficult for the opposition to get out of their own half. A ball out wide to the right was chased down by Tom who got the better of the Coogee full back. Danny made the run through the middle and as the ball came across a Coogee defender got their first smashing the ball goal wards, luckily for him grazing the post as it went out for the first of many corners for Barnie.
Barnstoneworth were seeing plenty of the ball and were creating all the best chances. Tom took control of a long ball on the right and flicked it into the path of Danny who took a couple of touches before laying it into the path of Steve, who had cut inside from the right wing. Unfortunately for Barnie Steve couldn't get the connection he wanted on the shot and the Coogee keeper saved well to his left. It was the best move of the half and deserved a goal. Coogee seemed to settle into the game after the fast paced opening and were seeing a bit more of the ball in the middle of the park but were still yet to create an opening of their own.
It was ambitious to think both Simba and Dave T could complete another 90 minutes after last weeks heroics and with 20 minutes on the clock both men hobbled of to be replaced by Joe Newman and Baldy Nick. Simba with a hip injury and there is no need to tell you all what body part Dave T was clutching as he limped off. Despite this re-shuffle at the back Barnstoneworth were still creating the better chances with Tom coming close with a header after another good run and cross by Alec down the left flank.
Barnies best chance at a goal looked as if it would come from a set piece with Alec and Danny putting in about 10 corners in the first half. The delivery was good but Coogee defended well and their keeper manged to catch or punch anything close to him. Steve came closest to a goal but his header was too close to the keeper and was saved.
As the half drew to an end Barnie were given a slight scare after a short throw in was worked well to the edge of the box. Coogee's CM struck a shot though a crowd of legs catching Gordo of guard, fortunately it went just wide and both teams went into the break level. We knew that we had been the better team but in the second half needed to be more clinical in front of goal.
We started in similar fashion to the first half and tried to press Coogee all over the pitch. Walshy was back from his holiday and was linking up well with Tom upfront. The early pressure from Barnie eventually paid off as Walshy charged his way through a crowd of bodies getting a good shot away from just inside the box. A Coogee defender charged it down but had his arms above his head and was correctly ruled to have handled, penalty to Barnstoneworth. With the race for the golden boot hotting up big Zla-Tom didn't give Walshy the chance to get his hands on it as he put the ball down confidently. He gave the keeper the eyes and drilled it in off the post to give Barnstoneworth the lead. 1-0 BUFC.
In typical Barnstoneworth fashion we started to drop a little deep and invited Coogee to attack. Coogee managed to carve out a couple of half chances with Gordon making a good stop from close range after a free kick deflected off the wall and through to a striker, Coogee probably should have done better with the re-bound but couldn't quite find the target. This was a close shave for Barnie and with over half hour to play it looked like it was going to be a long half. Coogee were in again shortly after with a good through ball into the penalty spot, fortunately for Barnie the striker got it caught under his feet and this gave Boot and Joe Peters time to get back and make the tackle. Dave 'I AM FUCKING CALM' Shannon wasn't impressed with the defending and made sure we all knew about it.
Dave Sleight and Danny came back on to give us some fresh legs and despite Coogee pressing for the equaliser we still managed to create chances of our own. Dave Sleight, looking to make the most of his 1st team chance, hit a great volley from 30 yards but it was straight down the middle and a comfortable save for the keeper. Another free kick by Coogee was well blocked but Barnie a little fortunate not to concede a penalty from the re-bound as a Coogee defender took a tumble over some stray legs in the box. Joe Peters mopped up the lose ball and went on a run the full length of the pitch laying it off to Danny on the right but the chance fizzled out as the Coogee full back defended well.
With the clock ticking down Coogee were fast running out of ideas and the long ball into the 7ft striker was having little reward as Nick managed to win every header. Barnstoneworth looked the more likely to get a goal catching Coogee on the counter attack as they pushed men forward. First Walshy found himself through on goal but instead of taking on the shot squared it to Danny who was in the better position but his shot was well blocked. Danny decided to re-pay the favour moments later as he found himself in a similar position and decided to square it to Walshy who fluffed his lines of a goal on his return. We'll put that one down to jet lag.
Barnestoneworth saw out the rest of the game and picked up a crucial 3 points to keep themselves in second place. With Coogee and South East Eagles only 1 point behind we need to win our final 3 games to secure a place in the top 2.