Denton Wilde Sapte 3 (3) v (1) 3 BLG
Eccles (pen) 85
Fielding what was close enough to our 1st XI, we all took to the field with a feeling that we could get something from the game, despite our opponents lofty league position. Indeed, the Skippers pre-match team talk had centred largely on our early season win against the same opposition, and the fact that we could "have this lot". Sadly, those words were shoved back down his throat during a totally inept first 30 minute performance. During this period, we hardly won a single 50/50, put no pressure on the opposition and let them totally dictate the tempo of the game. In truth, we were chasing shadows for the first half an hour and we found ourselves deservedly behind by three goals shortly before the break. Poor defending and even worse communication had got us into a rather deep hole, which, at that point, it did not look like we would get ourselves out of.
However, capitalising on a poor error from the DWS centre half just before the break, JoJo snuck in to give us a barely deserved lifeline. 1-3. The goal galvanised us and saw us really step up the pressure and intensity just prior to the half time whistle. Whilst we hadn't been quite ourselves to begin with, we were certainly warming up - we didn't want half time to come.
Inevitably though, it did, and following a battle cry and a plea for more urgency and drive during the half-time team talk, Barlows re-took to the field eager to claim the next goal, which we all knew would be vital. Applying far greater pressure to Dentons, we slowly turned the screw, creating a number of half chances, Pete firing wide from distance and substitute Hogey missing a glorious opportunity from 10 yards. However, we were not to be denied, and following good work from Robbie Chapman and Piers, the ball bundled its way through to Hooksy, who poked home well past the keeper who did not have time to set himself: 2-3 and game on.
Thereafter followed a bizarre interlude by the refereeing team, who by this point had totally lost control of the game. Booking several players for nothing challenges, whilst other escaped for far worse challenges and indiscretions, the man in black apparently saw nothing wrong with a blatant handball by Pete well inside our area (although his assistant did, but then decided he hadn't). With Dentons rightly incensed, the ball was immediately lumped downfield by Getty to Hooksy, who, taking on his man for pace and beating him, was felled inside the area. Peno. The fact that the offending player should also have had his marching orders meant little as the Skip had to steady himself over one of the more significant penalties in his Barlows career to date.
Showing a sense of authority that had been sadly lacking in his general play all night, the Skip managed to ram the ball high into the net, in the sort of style that supporters of West Ham (with Julian Dicks) and Nottingham Forest (with Stuart Pearce) would have been familiar with. No room for sentiment, no room for placement or funny cheeky south american style penalty dinks, just pure power and brute force. The net ripped pleasingly to show the score was 3-3. Some might have called it nerves of steel, others the ability to take a game defining moment and shake the life out of it. Whatever it was, it was a goal and it meant a point.
There was just enough time for some more horrendously bad decisions by the ref (he missed yet another clear Dentons penalty) before time was blown and a remarkable game was brought to a close. A fantastic point and a fantastic boost as we seek to close out the rest of the season.
Team: Bushy; Getty, Spinks, Eccles, Dug; Monster (Hogey), Robbie C, Pete Gardiner, Piers; JoJo (James Seale), Hooksy Evoking all sorts of memories from that most famous of finals 3 years ago, Barlows last night showed the sort of passion, desire and fighting spirit that has often been lacking in recent seasons to claw their way back into a game that looked well out of sight after an insipid first 30 minutes. In a second half display full of verve, controlled aggression and character, we battled our way back from the depths of 0-3 down, to roar back to snatch a well deserved point. The fact that we finished the stronger team, and had chances to win it, spoke volumes for our grit and never say die attitude.