It was back to back wins for Barnes, and another big 3 points, as they held on to beat Peckham Cosmos 3-2 in the SSFL Division 7 league match thanks to a hat-trick from James.
After the previous week's game with a number of last minute changes to the squad, co-managers Harry and Jacko decided to bring all the players they could to face Peckham in anticipation of more drops outs. Alas, on this occassion everyone showed up and so it was Jacko who fell on his sword to skip the game and allow the other subs to play in this contest.
Despite a full bench, there were still a few changes to the starting 11 compared to the team that finished the 5-3 win last week. Obviously Jacko was sitting out this match but an injury for Michael and a 'business trip' to Dubai for Hussain allowed Luke to step into the outfield after his stint in goal last week, a return to the fray for Rhys and a debut for new goalkeeper Ali. Barnes also welcome back long term absentees Carlos, George and Kai after several weeks away.
Cosmos took kick off and lost the ball almost instantly, James able to latch on and carry it up the wing quickly. Forced out wide by the defender, James faced a tight angle but had the ability to place the ball home early on, 1 minute in and it was 0-1 to Barnes.
From there it was a shaky 5-10 minutes for Barnes, having stormed to the lead early on they were immediately put under pressure by Peckham who were keen to get a goal back. A couple of shaky moments including a superb goal line clearance from Luke kept Barnes in the lead though and they got through this shaky period to regain control of the midfield thanks in no small part to the work rate of Harry and Johnny in the middle, the latter doing particularly well breaking up every phase the Cosmos tried to put together. Some great interchange from the wingers and central midfielders put James through time and time again, a real threat infront of goal running onto balls and forcing the Peckham defence to work hard. Eventually James was once again rewarded for his hard work as a corner put in by Harry fell to James who was able to shoot from inside the box and beat a defender or two at the near post to net his second of the game. 0-2 Barnes at half-time.
"I'll admit, I was nervy at half-time as Peckham had moments of real attacking threat so I just reminded the lads about the positioning I expecected from them when defending but also when attacking as I felt there were, rightly or wrongly, alot of off side calls being given us against us. I wanted to cut that out and play with 'offence is the best form of defence' mentatlity" said Jacko.
Barnes went into the second half after a few pointers from Jacko to help adjust their game, along with a couple of subs seeing the introduction of George, Kai and Carlos. The long term absentees immediately made their presence felt, George helped to shore up the midfield and play some lovely balls into Kai who worked well with new forward partner James. Carlos on the wing was back to his old tricks, literally running rings around the opposition at one point and providing cross after cross. Along with the rest of the team they worked hard and came out firing in the first 5 minutes to provide James the opportunity to round off his hat-trick with a well finished goal following a whole team attacking move involving largely every outfield Barnes player. 0-3 Barnes.
At 0-3 up, Jacko introduced club captain Billy into the back 4 to replace Jack at CB. Barnes were cruising and then Johnny took a knock to which Jacko responded by bringing on Liam into the middle of the park. Peckham were able to capitalise on Barnes' moments of lapse in concentration following the substitution and were able to break through in at the Barnes goal. Luke raced to try and make a challenge but got caught running behind the attacked and after Ali had safey collected the lose ball made slight contact with the attacker's trailing foot who went down infront of the ref to be awarded a penalty. Cosmos scored making it 1-3 to Barners and still plenty of time to go.
Cosmos were quick out of the block and again capitalised on a Barnes side in disbelief at the penalty that had been given. Cosmos got more of a foothold in the midfield and were able to push forwards making use of their target man who was laying it off well to the players around him. Unfortunately Cosmos were able to score again quickly to make it 2-3.
With a bit of confusion on how long was left in the game, Barnes tried holding the ball up and slowing play down but this invited more pressure from Cosmos which Barnes were struggling to deal with. Making full use of the rolling substitutions, Jacko brought back on Johnny and Harry who immediately helped to stabilise things for a while. The game was seeming to drag on and with what Jacko thought was just a couple of minutes left to play, he brought Casey back on for the set plays. Casey immediately pushed Cosmos onto the back foot and helped pin them back giving the Stormers midfield a bit more freedom to play and start really attacking again. This took the pressure off Barnes a bit but they still needed to ride out a couple of nervy final few minutes riding a wave of pressure and shutting Peckham out at a couple of corners and set plays to ensure they ended the game as victors. 2-3 to Barnes Stormers at the final whistle.
"I'm thrilled with James' hat-trick. He played superbly and really deserved the credit today, his team mates voting him MOTM. Very well taken goals, but let's not forget the excellent team work and clever football the boys played on a very muddy park pitch. The defensive dominance was superb in the first half and then again at the end of the second half - despite conceding a couple goals the lads did so well to see out that game when they could easily have lost their belief if seeing out the win" said Jacko at the final whistle.
Next up for the Stormers is Syndicate FC, a team whom Barnes know well having played them several times in the past few seasons in both league and cup games. A real derby match, this won't be one you'll want to miss so come down and support your Stormers on Sunday 30th as they play at home!