By Peter Stephenson
On Saturday afternoon, Mooroolbark’s Esther Park saw the Barkers men’s side (fifth) take on Heatherton United (seventh) in round nine of Men’s State 2 South-East. The shortage of match officials has been notable this year, and once more, a club volunteer was required to fill the gap.
United were coming off the back of some big wins and put Barkers under a lot of early pressure. Just before the half-hour, Barkers underhit a backpass, which was seized upon by Armin Kerla, and he had little trouble slotting the ball past an exposed Mark Naumowicz for the opening goal – 1-0 Heatherton.
The lead was short-lived though. A few minutes later, Barkers striker Maxim Solovyev attacked United inside their penalty area and was tripped – penalty to Barkers. It was Sam Klepac who sent the kick beyond Senad Ahmetovic for the equaliser, and Barkers’ 2500th goal since joining the State League in 1964. Half-time: Mooroolbark 1-1 Heatherton United.
Just five minutes into the second half, Klepac laid a muscular challenge to win a 50-50 ball in midfield, before going past four players, and unleashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner, quite a stunning goal to give Barkers a 2-1 lead.
The remainder of the game saw players and supporters get testy, but the referee managed to keep a lid on proceedings, and Barkers held on to win 2-1. No doubt this was a hard-fought victory and all the sweeter for that. Barkers have yet another home game (that’ll be seven out of the first 10) against top-four side Doncaster Rovers next Saturday.
In the reserves match, a look at the ladder told you that this was a chance for Barkers to boost their goal difference, and so it proved. A corner from the right led to a ripper short from the edge of the box from Max Burrows after four minutes – 1-0.
On 10 minutes Jack Buglass converted a penalty, then on 23 minutes he lobbed the keeper from a backpass. Three minutes later, Dushaan Atanasovski provided a lovely finish to a sweet attacking move, and just before the break Buglass scored another penalty to complete his hat-trick, his second treble in three games. There was just one more goal in the second-half, from James Barber in the 67th minute, and Barkers ran out winners by 6-0.
Men of the match for Barkers – reserves was Max Burrows, and seniors was an outstanding display from keeper Mark Naumowicz.