OLYMPIAN EFFORT BY BATTLING BLUES IN DRAMATIC FIGHTBACK
Barking staged a recovery of Olympian proportions to share the points after conceding 3 goals in the first 17 minutes of manager Alan Dickens’s first competitive game in charge. Southend Manor had won our two previous encounters 3-0 and seemed to be heading for a similar or better result but the Blues never gave up. We were still losing 3-1 with just ten minutes remaining but equalised with almost the last kick of the game.
So former star of West Ham United and Chelsea, Alan Dickens, aided by coaches Jeff Sears, manager of last season’s championship winning reserves, and Rob O’Brien, Barking FC chairman, will carry an unbeaten managerial record into Tuesday’s home match with Bethnal Green United who will be starting their season.
This result sees us kick off the season in seventh position and we are already a point up on last season, having lost the equivalent match 3-0.
Our problems started in the tenth minute when George Shelvey intercepted a back pass to put Manor ahead, Tommy Griffiths headed home a corner two minutes later and Shelvey made it 3-0 with a 17th minute penalty. It could have been even worse as Manor hit a post in the 20th minute and in the 30th minute hit the back of our net but from an offside position.
It was not entirely one way however with Petrit Elbi finishing a good run with a shot which was blocked, Jake King sending a good ball to Elbi whose cross was cleared, more good work by the always-determined King finding Jason Kane, on his return to our first team after a successful season in the Reserves, whose cross was gathered by Manor custodian Jack Avery. Another Elbi cross was diverted for a corner and yet another was met by a flying header from Chas Liddiard which went just wide. King then beat Avery with a chip shot which went just the wrong side of the far post but our efforts were rewarded and our recovery initiated when Petrit ELBI beat Avery with a fine free kick in the 45th + 5th minute of the first half for his second goal for us.
We continued the pressure after the break but seemingly to no avail as a brave dive by Avery prevented Liddiard and Elbi reaching a King cross and Kane and King combined well before King’s corner was touched on dangerously by Elbi but scrambled away. A through ball from Elbi was just too fast for Liddiard, a good run by Jonathan Mogege ended with a Manor clearance and a skilful touch by Dumebi GB-Dumaka was followed by a shot just over the bar.
Avery again dived in bravely to deny us but Southend were themselves denied two points by a dramatic final 13 minutes. In the 81st minute, following good work by King, Liddiard and Elbi, Dee DUMAKA scored with a superbly placed shot (his sixth goal for us) and in the third minute of second half added time, young defender Anthony McDonald in his senior debut, having seen Avery in an advanced position, created our equaliser with a superb chip almost from the half way line. Avery got back but was only able to push McDonald’s shot onto the bar and as it hit the ground Chas LIDDIARD reacted quickly and splendidly to fire it home for his 47th time for us. There was just time for Manor to restart the game before referee Tony King’s final whistle signalled that an amazing recovery had been successfully completed.
New faces in our squad were Anthony McDonald, who started the game and, with Chas Liddiard, ended it and Stuart Haughton on the bench. Anthony was a member of last season’s successful reserves and is a former soldier and Stuart is a former Barking Abbey student who has played for Waltham Forest and Ilford.
Any opinions expressed in this report are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Barking Football Club.