Barkers fall to Strikers

Max Burrows tried his luck against the Strikers but the Barkers couldn't quite catch their opponents lead. (Rob Carew: 242569)

By Peter Stephenson

Barkers (fourth) travelled to a cold but dry Centenary Park, knowing that only a win against Peninsula Strikers (third) would keep them in touch with the top three. Barkers made two enforced changes to the side that beat Skye 3-0, with Sean Perrin and Jerome Valadon replacing Geordie Scott (injured) and Chris Potter (suspended).

Strikers nearly took the lead in the third minute as first a Campbell Steedman shot was saved point-blank by Mark Naumowicz, then Barkers cleared two follow-up attempts off the line. Five minutes later, Barkers had their first sight of goal when Danny Aye seized on a loose ball and shot just wide. Strikers are a big, fast outfit though and a long ball over the top was chased down by a forward, but Ahren Angulo laid a superb tackle to clear. The Barkers didn’t hold out much longer though.

Strikers had a corner on the right, it was hit to the far post, knocked back inside and Wayne Gordon had a tap-in for the opener – 1-0 Strikers. Barkers then broke quickly as Valadon found Aye, who played out to Dan Burrows on the right. His dangerous first-time ball to the near post was about to be cut out by keeper Faraz Zenoozi, but a defender beat him to it.

It got worse for Barkers on 23 minutes when a lovely cross from the right saw Tom Wood connect at close range and make it 2-0. Then another good cross from Steedman set up Wood. Naumowicz got a hand to it but couldn’t prevent Strikers making it 3-0 at the break in a dismal half for Barkers.

Two minutes into the second half, Ross Clark was fouled. He played the free kick to Aye, whose shot warmed Zenoozi’s hands before it was cleared. Then Aye sent a corner into the middle, where Max Burrows rose and headed wide. Just before the hour, Barkers got a small reward for their efforts.

The ball was played from midfield to Clark. He played out to Maxim Solovyev on the right, who hit a well-weighted low ball in for Clark to bury a first time shot in the net for 3-1 Strikers. There then followed a good period for Barkers, with Aye forcing an acrobatic catch from Zenoozi, then M.Burrows heading over while in a crowd of players, then a Clark corner led to a shot blocked from Aye.

All this work was undone on 71 minutes when Barkers gave the ball away in their own half, allowing Steedman to hit a shot into the net past the wrongfooted Naumowicz. Then in the last minute, with Barkers stretched at the back, Strikers broke down the right and crossed for Jai Power to hit a first-time shot into the net for 5-1. Then something extraordinary.

In stoppage time, a guided missile of a shot soared over Zenoozi to make it 5-2, but who had hit it? It turned out that Anthony Di Crea (who had earlier scored for the reserves) had belted one over the keeper’s head from the left touchline for a remarkable first senior goal. Either brilliant or fortunate – who knows? Full time: Strikers 5-2 Barkers.

The Barkers always seem to struggle these days against Strikers, and today was no different. Strikers were fast, strong and their finishing was crisp. Oh well, on to next week.