Southern Ettalong vs BUFC F’s

Black armbands and a minute’s silence were the order of the day at South Ettalong’s home ground, in remembrance of South Ettalong’s Michael Dean who died tragically of a heart attack on the field the previous week.

When the whistle blew it rapidly became clear that South Ettalong were in no mood for fooling around, and series of aggressive attacks down the left wing had Barnstoneworth scrambling in defence. What was also clear was that at least one of the South Ettalong forwards, the number 11, had joined F-grade when their B team had failed to come up with the numbers.

Barnstoneworth were also missing their core fullback for the first fifteen minutes, and despite dogged defence from Trevor Husk and Jason Bush, it was during this period that South Ettalong managed to slot one home after a cross from their right wing. Barnstoneworth soon struck back though. Receiving a the first of many free kicks in what would be a pretty physical game, Jason Bush struck a beautiful curve ball that seized the breeze and floated over the wall, striking the right upright and bouncing in.

Up front, Steve Head and Justin O’Malley Jones made several raids on the goal, but were unable to convert the pressure into points. In centre-field, Brett Fenton and Dave Prakesh were kept busy as South Ettalong were running replacements on with abandon, and by the half-time whistle Barnstoneworth were feeling the effects of countering an effective passing game.

Running into the breeze in the second half, Barnstoneworth put Adam Chandler upfront for the first time this season, and he showed what he’s capable of, running through defenders as if they were turnstiles, but he too couldn’t plant the ball. South Ettalong’s strategy of giving the ball to their number 11 began to pay off, and he found himself involved in a series of heavy skirmishes with the Barnstoneworth defence, Jason Bush and Steve Head in particular serving him out, both physically and verbally. Being used to playing at the B level, the number 11 appeared to be struggling a bit with the style of play in F-grade, and when he took a spectacular dive with no other players anywhere near him, even his own team gave him a sarcastic round of applause.

The joke was on Barnstoneworth though, as in the next attack down the wing, Will Belford managed to extract the ball from a four-player melee, then passed it straight to the South Ettalong striker who had a clear run into the goal. Brendan McCarthy, who was generously giving Simon-Ashley Binge a run in the centres, found himself on the wrong side of the goal-mouth. Just minutes later a thrust into Barnstoneworth’s left corner produced a cross to the striker and suddenly Ettalong were up 3-1.

With fifteen to go, Barnstoneworth started hitting their stride and were keeping the ball down the South Ettalong end. In the centre, Jason Scott made some excellent passes and Chris Peers delivered his usual performance of terrier-like harassment of the opposition. Over on the left, Robert Ratay put in some effective tackles, and when Ben Johnson and Anthony Broadbere came on from the sideline, an opportunity opened up on the right flank. After a flurry of tackles, Barnstoneworth found themselves with a free kick twenty metres out. Ben ‘The Immortal’ Johnson, with only one of his statutory five minutes of game time left, belted the ball straight into the right knee of a South Ettalong defender, whence it ricocheted into the goal.

Then abruptly the final whistle blew and the season was over. Having expected to be roundly thrashed by South Ettalong’s hybrid Fs & Bs (the FooBars), Barnstoneworth were reasonably happy to go down by only one point, aware that two of those were probably avoidable soft goals. All-in-all, a competitive end to a highly-enjoyable season which saw the team come fifth on the ladder in its first year.

Vale Michael Dean, and may we all maintain our own cardiac fitness by playing for Barnstoneworth F-Grade again in 2016.

Final result: 3-2 South Ettalong

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