Bar Come up Short
By Anthony Levy
A great volunteer effort ensured that this vital game was able to go ahead despite the unseasonal early morning snow. Bar knew a win would be enough to secure the Div 2S title.
Despite the splendid efforts of the snow clearers, the DAOS pitch was understandably far from perfect, with odd bits of snow remaining on the surface, not helped by further light snow that continued to fall during most of the match.
Skipper Mark Turpin was able to name an unchanged squad (with the addition from the bench of Christos Votsis) for the visit of Cambridge South, a team also in need of some points to help ensure they were not sucked into the remaining relegation places.
Bar were able to get off to a fast start, helped in part by the visitors only starting with 10 men on the field, despite having a 14 man squad available! Mark Turpin twice went close in the opening 10 minutes. His shot after 2 minutes flew just wide of the post having been set up by Ed Whybrow, and then on 7 minutes it looked like he had a tap in on the far post having been set up by Miles Tomkins, but his touch was insufficient, allowing a defender to clear away off the line.
Having wasted these chances it was then only typical that the visitors took the lead after 9 minutes, when a slightly fortunate touch inside the D was able to wrong foot Bar keeper Ben Balmforth, allowing another forward to steal in from close range. Bar should have equalised after 13 minutes – a well worked short corner routine ended with Ed Whybrow’s close range effort blocked on the line by a defender’s foot, with Bar then unfortunate that the umpire blew for a penalty flick immediately, rather than allow Chris Chittleborough’s immediate follow up effort to stand instead. Even so, the normally dependable Mark Turpin would have been expected to score the flick, but his effort went straight down the middle and was saved by the keeper.
Bar now struggled to dominate the game, as whilst they looked both dangerous on the break and comfortable when not in possession, they were guilty of giving the ball away too often, particularly deep in their own half. Mark Turpin almost equalised on 29 minutes as he wriggled his way into the D from the left hand side – he spurned the unmarked Miles Tomkins but his shot was deflected wide of the post by a defender’s stick.
However Bar deservedly equalised soon afterwards. Mark Turpin was again inside the D on 31 minutes and his shot was deflected up into the air by the keeper before Ajay Patel was on hand with a smart finish of a ball that was well above waist height when he made connection.
Coach Spencer was his usual calm self at half time – happy with the effort put in during the first half and making some technical adjustments where he felt certain that Bar would prevail in the second half.
It felt like the next goal would be crucial and in the end it never came! Cambridge had a fair amount of possession in the Bar half but the defensive unit was having another good game that largely prevented any strikes on goal as the final pass was regularly intercepted. Bar did have to see out one dangerous period on 45 minutes when 2 successive short corners had to be defended, but first a Balmforth save and then a Josh Edge block were enough to snuff out the danger.
Meanwhile at the other end Bar struggled themselves to create much in the way of clear cut opportunities and before the final 10 minutes the closest they came followed a cross from Harvey Edwards after 47 minutes, where a deflection off a defender’s stick just took the ball away from Christos Votsis who was lurking on the back post.
Ed Whybrow’s ball into the D on 60 minutes caused some mayhem just in front of goal as Simon Tenwick’s deflection was just about dealt with by the keeper before the umpire blew for a 16, with the Bar players appealing for a short corner. Although no award came on that occasion, Bar won their chance two minutes later, but George McConachie’s deflection off of Miles Tomkins pass from the coach’s instructed routine flew high and wide of the goal.
Despite the best efforts of both teams, that was the final opportunity as the game finished 1-1, the second week running where the second half has remained goalless. The result means that Cambridge should stay up, barring a series of unlikely results, while Bar (assuming there is no chance of an 18 goal swing from Crostyx in their last match) need a point in their rearranged match against Blueharts in 3 weeks’ time to secure promotion. Whilst Bar were understandably disappointed at the end not to have secured promotion before the End of Season party, the draw means the team remain unbeaten over their last 12 matches.
Potters Bar 1 Cambridge South 1 (HT: 1-1)
Team: M Turpin (Capt), B Balmforth (GK), C Chittleborough, G McConachie, R Li, J Edge, D Flynn, J Elms, S Tenwick, E Whybrow, H Edwards, G Abrey, M Tomkins, A Patel, C Votsis
Goal: Ajay Patel (31)
MVP: Ed Whybrow
TFC: Ray Li