Barking v Brentwood Town – 22 December 2018

An innocuous attack broke down. My gaze slid to the left where I expected the Barking keeper’s kick to end up. I anticipated the sturdy sound of a sweet strike from the goalies boot but I, instead, heard the familiar flurry of sound that accompanies a fracas. Yards from the ball a Barking defender and Brentwood attacker were embraced in a grapple. The kind of struggle that happened regularly behind closed doors to settle disputes in the days of the Wimbledon crazy gang at their training base in Roehampton.

The quarrel here was unclear. Accusations of blame came from all angles as the two players fell to the ground in unison, from the bench to my left and the one to my right. The sidelines emptied to try and bring a halt to proceedings. After seeing red with each other both players then saw red again as the referee directed them to the changing room. The debate continued as they made their walk of shame. What had previously been a fairly jovial affair became tense. Suddenly it seemed to matter that much more to everyone associated with the two mid-table challengers.

Score: 3-0
Competition: Bostik North Division
Ground: Mayesbrook Park
Attendance: 74
Ticket: £10
Programme: £1.50
Refreshments: £1.50
Dogs spotted: None

Barking welcome the other midtable blues

My adventures in local football took me to the other side of the North Circular this weekend for an interesting looking game between two versions of ‘the Blues’, Barking and Brentwood. The Barking model of the Blues are a fascinating side. A fleeting glance at the league table could leave you mistakenly believing they were soft target. Their defensive record is the first indicator of a different story.

They’ve conceded 22 in 17 games. The sides either side of them have shipped 33 and 32 in the same amount of games. They’re a tough side to shake off, they’re never out of the game. In their ten defeats this season only two sides have put them away by more than two goals. You sense when you see them play that when the forward line clicks they’ll soon find themselves moving up the Bostik North.

My previous Barking games have seen them frustrating sides operating at the top end of the division. This weekend they were up against a side just four points above them. A winnable game. Off the field the club has been equally iterative. In the week before the game, the club’s chairman was explaining in the local paper how Barking had grown from two teams to sixteen in the last six years.

They’ve also partnered with a local school’s sixth form to create a local football scholarship programme. The scheme, along with their youth teams, enables the club to identify players for the first team. Something they hope will help them compete with rival clubs that can boast greater resources.

Barking v Brentwood Town
The Barking players huddle in the fading daylight

The state of play

While Barking’s performances have offered plenty of hope, Brentwood seem to have already found their stride. They’ve won three of their last four league games scoring 13 goals in the process. Barking, on the other hand, have lost three of their last four, although two of those were against high-flyers Heybridge Swifts and Bowers & Pitsea.

This was already the third meeting between the two sides this season. Brentwood won their first league encounter 1-0 back in August. They then met again in the Velocity Trophy in September. The game finished all square at 2-2, but Brentwood triumphed again in the penalty shoot-out that followed.

As the two blues made their way out onto the pitch the sun began to set on the far side of London. The nickname color clash seemed to be very evident to a couple of the Brentwood players who added ‘light’ to their usual cries of ‘come on blues’ as they ran out into the December air.

Barking v Brentwood Town
Brentwood looking to defend their lines

Barking win battle of ‘the Blues’

The two opposing blues started positively. In truth, though there was little for either side to worry about in the opening exchanges. The main point of interest seemed to be the lack of air in the balls. It appeared to be an oversight rather than any Tom Brady style skullduggery. Barking’s manager, Justin Gardner, soon had someone dispatched to add some more air to proceedings, although one did come back sounding like it was fashioned from pure granite.  

Barking made the breakthrough shortly after. A ball over the top was excellently controlled by Jordan Peart. He wasn’t able to apply the finish himself but Kemo Darboe was on hand to stroke the ball home. The home side settled into the game after the goal. They caused Brentwood plenty of problems on the break and down the flanks. Keeper Tim Brown was still required, however, to pull off a good reaction save to keep them ahead.

Barking then made it two. Another well-timed break saw Russell played into space down the right. He precisely squared the ball to Abs Seymour who put the home side two up. It suddenly all seemed quite comfortable for Barking, almost routine, until the game’s main talking point. No-one was quite sure what started it but Brentwood’s Charlie Hughes and Barking’s Joe Bruce were both given their marching orders for their spot of wrestling.

Barking saw out the rest of the first half as a few heads continued to spin following the ruckus. Brentwood switched to three at the back in the second half in the search for a goal to get them back in the game. They were able to have lots of possession and control the game for periods. Barking, however, remained positive and kept three forwards on the pitch.

The home side continued to threaten on the break and eventually got a third goal. A short corner was played to substitute Ogunwamide who drilled the ball into the top corner. The goal capped off a fine performance for Barking. They move up to 11th, one place and one point behind Brentwood.

Barking v Brentwood Town
Barking have a late corner