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Barkingside ‘legends’ ensure survival

Barkingside players celebrate a goal (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO) Barkingside players celebrate a goal (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Sam Park at Oakside
Sunday, April 20, 2014
9:13 AM

Ryman Div 1N: Barkingside 1 Ware 1

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A jubilant and relieved Barkingside secured their place in the Ryman League next season after playing out a draw with Ware at Oakside today.

A first-half goal from Lewis Francis was cancelled out by the visitors after the restart, but a point was all ‘Side needed in order to guarantee survival, without relying on other results to go their way.

As it was, Wroxham’s home defeat against Burnham ensured their relegation as Matt Frew’s men celebrated survival.

Barkingside’s penultimate game at Oakside was energetic but scrappy from the outset with both sides putting in several hard challenges.

Ware looked slightly more settled on the ball but neither team managed to generate a clear cut chance in the first 15 minutes.

‘Side’s best early opportunities came from a Calvin Poku header, but he could not get enough power behind it, and a quick counter attack that put Francis through at a tight angle, but he mis-timed his shot and the ball sailed well wide.

Francis made amends four minutes later, though, when the host’s best period of pressure yet resulted in a cross falling kindly between the two centre-backs for him.

Francis took the ball in his stride and held off a challenge while guiding the ball into the bottom right hand corner past the outstretched Ware keeper.

Frew’s men could have gone 2-0 up five minutes later when the best move of the match saw Francis execute a slick, short pass into the box for the energetic Matt Gulfer, but his low shot was well saved by the onrushing keeper.

The hosts enjoyed further spells of pressure around the Ware goal but the visitors always looked dangerous on the break, with one very threatening run being broken up on the edge of the box by the versatile, backtracking Joe Ellul, who looked calm and confident in midfield all game, especially with the ball in the air.

Ware started brightly in the second half with a period of strong pressure and ‘Side had a narrow escape at one point as their previously solid marking broke down and Ware were left with players open in the box, but they failed to convert from a low cross.

Halfway through the second period ‘Side finally seemed to wake up again and Poku was unlucky not to double the lead after again latching on to a corner with his head.

Poku produced more power with his latest effort, which forced the keeper into a great low save to his left, but Ware then levelled in the 75th minute when a goalmouth scramble from a corner was bundled in and eventually credited as an own goal to goalkeeper Chris Clark.

‘Side had one last chance to finish it off with a win, when their best move of the half saw Ellul feed Poku on the edge of the box.

Poku put in a looping cross which found it’s way to Steve Carvell but the ball wouldn’t quite sit up for him to strike it cleanly, as he fended off pressure from his marker.

Ware applied some moderate pressure in the final 10 minutes but the Barkingside defence held on.

And as the final whistle blew, there was a mix of celebratory cheers and sighs of relief heard from supporters, Barkingside staff on touchline and the players alike.

Frew could not hide his delight after the game, taking to social media side Twitter to say: “The lads have been immense and deserve a massive pat on the back! Barkingside legends! I’m buzzing!”

Barkingside visit relegated Erith & Belvedere tomorrow, before hosting Sudbury on the final day of the season.

*Landlords Redbridge slipped to a 2-1 defeat against in-form Thurrock at Ship Lane.

Ross Wall put Fleet in front midway through the first half and former Redbridge striker Kurt Smith doubled the home side’s lead against his old club on 54 minutes.

Daniel Francis hit back just after the hour mark to give Motormen hope, but it proved only a consolation.

Redbridge welcome long-time leaders VCD Athletic to Oakside tomorrow before ending their campaign with a trip to Heybridge Swifts on April 26.

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