Honours go to Barwell in First Local Derby of the Year.
Loughborough no match for a rampant Barwell side who continue their unbeaten league run which now stretches to 55 matches.
In a rematch of the Westerby Cup Final, Barwell came out on top in a keenly fought contest although, as the match progressed, the home side edged further ahead. The score-line does not reflect the number of chances as both defences performed well to keep out many others.
There were many familiar faces amongst the Loughborough line-up as Ian Blythe’s men included a handful of players who had been regulars at Kirkby Road in previous seasons.
Both teams pressed at the start and Nigel Julien appeared to have beaten the offside trap in the first six minutes as he ran onto a ball over the top only to see the official’s flag defeat his move.
Local derbies are always tight affairs and in the opening exchanges it was clear that this was the case until with just eleven minutes on the clock, Barwell won a free kick on the left of the Loughborough penalty box. Liam McDonald’s pinpoint delivery was met by Matt Bailey’s head and his glancing header found the net off the post.
Barwell continued to press and five minutes later, Jamie Towers rose at the back post to head a Richard Blythe cross just wide.
Old boy Scott Clamp was in evidence in the middle of the park and true to form, he received a yellow card after eighteen minutes for a mistimed tackle on Bailey.
Loughborough had a good chance to equalise as they won a free kick on the edge of the box soon after but Liam Castle was equal to the challenge as the ball flew past the Barwell wall. Soon after, he was again under pressure as a corner was floated under his bar but the Barwell stopper met the effort with a well-timed punch to clear his lines.
Following a handball close to the Loughborough penalty area, Liam McDonald went very close as his chipped free kick rattled the bar.
On the half hour, Bailey received a yellow card for a shoulder charge but this only made him more determined and as McDonald crossed from the left, Kev Charley flicked the ball to Bailey who sidefooted home from close range.
Before the half time whistle, tempered flared in front of the dugouts and an altercation by a dozen players from both sides ended with Stuart Verrel of Loughborough seeing yellow.
Early in the second half, Castle’s bravery was called upon as Luke Edwards beat both Scott Lower and Francino Francis before squaring for Verrel. However, the keeper dived at the forward’s feet and prevented the shot from ten yards.
After 66 minutes, Barwell put the game beyond doubt as Matt Bailey received the ball from McDonald. Beating the offside trap he slid it neatly across James Flinders to add the Canaries’ third of the evening.
Jamie Towers had his best chance of the evening seven minutes later only to have his effort kicked off the line by former Kirkby Roader Reece Lester.
In the last quarter hour, another former Barwell man went close as Scott Clamp’s corner looped under the bar but once again Castle was equal to the task and his punch was again successful in frustrating the visitors’ efforts.
Jake Dale-Brown tested the home keeper once again two minutes later as he drilled an effort goalwards but he could not penetrate the last line of defence.
Louis Dodd had a couple of efforts which went close in the dying minutes as he got closer to goal but he turned provider for Barwell’s fourth as he fed the ball to McDonald. The ensuing chip was inch perfect as it looped over Flinders and sailed into the net to complete the scoring for the home side.
This was an excellent team performance with all players called on to make contributions but the hat trick of Matt Bailey led to his award of the Man of the Match.
Team: Liam Castle, Scott Lower, Richard Blythe, Nick Green, Francino Francis, Matt Bailey (Craig Dutton 74), Jamie Towers, Scott Hadland, Nigel Julien (Adam Wykes 86), Kev Charley (Louis Dodd 69), Liam McDonald. Substitutes (not used):Wayne Dyer, Craig Herbert.
Goals: Bailey 11, 36,66, McDonald 88.
Man of the Match: Matt Bailey.