Blues are having a Happy New Year
First away win of 2018
Bostik League North Division
Saturday 6th January 2018
Barking 1(1) Hertford Town 2(1)
(Lutaaya 24’, Cole 51’)
‘Down to the bare bones’ was how Blues manager Gavin Kelsey described to squad that he took to face promotion-chasing east-Londoners, Barking, on Saturday. But, from adversity often comes strength and the players who travelled didn’t let him down and put in one of the Blues’ best performances of the season. Their hosts had moved up to sixth place in the division and had lost only two of their previous 15 games, so the performance was certainly deserving of the reception they got at the end of the game from the Blues’ loyal following.
The game was an intense affair that highlighted the difference in styles of the two teams. The Blues created their chances in open play while the hosts concentrated their attacks on well-delivered set-pieces into the box, designed to make best use of their considerable height advantage over the comparatively small Blues defence. But keeper Charlie Mann and his back four of Ollie Sharman, Dan Palmer, Jay Lovell and Luke Foster rose to the challenge and dealt manfully with everything that was thrown at them.
The home side started like a team in form and dominated the opening exchanges. They forced four corners in the first seven minutes and, just when it appeared that the Blues were gaining a foothold in the game, they took a 19th minute lead. A cross from the left was headed from close range by Kiernan Hughes-Mason straight at Charlie Mann; all he could do was block it, though, and the rebound was bundled into the back of the net.
It was a lead they weren’t to hold long, however, because inside five minutes the Blues were level. In the 24th minute Luke Illsley had a header from Ricky Light’s cross, cleared off the line but, within that same minute, George Lutaaya scored his first goal for the club when he finished off some good approach play by Brett O’Connor, Ricky Light and Charlie Cole.
With the goal, the Blues grew in confidence and for the remainder of the half they had the upper hand. The second half picked up where the first left off and within six minutes of its start they had been awarded a penalty. George Lutaaya was tripped in the box and Charlie Cole put the Blues in front when he slotted the ball home after his effort from the penalty spot had been parried back to him.
The hosts responded as would be expected and the rest of the half – including twelve minutes of added time! – was typified by high balls into the Blues’ box and quick break-outs from defence which should probably have found a third goal to put the result to bed.
The free kicks and corner kicks into the Blues’ box were always threatening and twice Charlie Mann made important saves on his line when a goal seemed inevitable.
At the other end, Charlie Cole twice got behind the Barking defence but on both occasions his shots under pressure, were saved. It didn’t matter, though, because the Blues held out to secure a further three points and make it two wins from two games in 2018.
Team:, Charlie Mann, Ollie Sharman(Jonah Evans 90+9’), Luke Foster, Phil Lowen, Jay Lovell, Dan Palmer, Ricky Light, Luke Illsley, Charlie Cole(Harry Crook 90+5’), George Lutaaya(Aaron Diveney 88’’), and Brett O’Connor.
Subs not used: Guy Hammersley and Glenn Draper.
Match report by Ray Greenall