Match Preview | AFC Poplar Rovers
This Sunday, Barnes Stormers host league leaders Poplar Rovers in the final match of 2020.
After last Sunday's 1-0 victory over Summerstown, Barnes go into the weekend's fixture knowing they face a very different challenge, something which manager Tom Jackson acknowledges, "We're coming up against the league leaders and they're top for a reason, they've kept 4 clean sheets in 6 games and conceded just 3 times in the remaining two games".
Barnes are no pushovers themselves though, sitting 3rd in the league, joint 2nd top goalscorers with the division 2nd top goalscorer amongst their squad too and Jacko sees this as an opportunity to cause an upset and turn the tide on the direction the season is taking, "The oppo might be top of the table, but that means nothing on the day - it's just 11 men playing football against us and we've had just as good results against the opposition that Poplar have played. I think Sunday is going to be a real test for Poplar and I wouldn't want to be facing us in the last game of 2020".
The fact is, Poplar Rovers haven't faced a top 3 side just yet and in this David v Goliath match, David is looking a bit more like Goliath than he'd like. Barnes may have struggled for consistentcy early on but now with a more regular squad they are starting to build a head of steam and when they do hit their pace, they absolutely dazzle. "The football we've been playing has really been improving in general since the start of the season and we've had a number of new signings who have helped contribute to that. I'm confident that if we continue to maintain that high level we've been playing that we can cause Poplar some real problems" said Jacko.
That more regular matchday squad will unfortunately be missing club captain Ben Theobald and winger Harry Cooper as they both isolate during the covid-19 pandemic. However, whilst they miss out, it opens the door for management duo Tom and Ash to trial a couple new faces, "We've been training hard since the end of the November lockdown and we've been able to find a couple of new players that we're hoping to give some game time to and bleed into the squad on Sunday" said Jacko. These unknown players will add an element of surprise to Barnes' firepower.
Sunday's match will no doubt be an exciting one and possibly the biggest fixture of the season so far in the division as these two top clubs go head to head for the first time in their history.