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Essex Senior League: Michael Walther thrilled with Barkingside’s ‘cup final’ win at Great Wakering Rovers

PUBLISHED: 17:00 02 August 2017

A Barkingside player (blue) tries to win the ball back off Barking's Daniel McCulloch (pic: Terry Gilbert).

A Barkingside player (blue) tries to win the ball back off Barking's Daniel McCulloch (pic: Terry Gilbert).

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Cricklefield Stadium boss reflects on their impressive 2-1 success at recently relegated Isthmian North club

Barkingside manager Michael Walther admitted their first match of the new Essex Senior League season felt like a cup final at times.

Side made the lengthy journey to Burroughs Park to face Great Wakering Rovers and claimed a 2-1 victory.

Jerome Martelli opened the scoring for the visitors after eight minues, but Charlie Kirby equalised soon after for the hosts.

Tony Cookey had the final say on proceedings, however, coming off the bench to score the winner for Barkingside in the second half.

“It was very intense for the first game of the season,” said former Clapton boss and Stansted assistant Walther.

“Great Wakering started a little bit better than us, but we hit them on the break four times in quick succession and had two cleared off the line as well as the goal we scored.

“We could have been two or three up at this point, but they got a goal back and then second half it was a bit more backs to the wall from us.

“It seemed like they were sharper and I think some of our lads were feeling the effects of the Ware friendly on Saturday.

“But we managed to get a second goal and then we were getting our heads onto everything in the final five minutes.

“It was almost like a cup final in some ways, but it was a great result and a good start to the season.”

Former London Bari and Clapton striker Cookey proved to be the difference in the end at Burroughs Park.

Walther praised the impact of the substitute, adding: “We have Michael Ogboin as our big focal point up front because he is a big lad, but Tony is chomping at the bit to start.

“He is doing well at the minute and getting his head down and whenever we have used him off the bench he has looked good, so I have been really pleased with him.”

Great Wakering suffered relegation from the Isthmian North last season and many have tipped them to push for promotion this time around.

The Barkingside boss can see exactly why after last night’s game, but that only added to his delight at getting the three points.

Walther added: “Their manager has done a good job over there and I don’t expect them to lose to many teams this season.

“But in terms of us, I think we are going to be solid at the back and our pace can hurt teams on the counter-attack, which is what happened last night.

“Great Wakering are a well drilled team and they have a few ex-Bowers & Pitsea players over there now.

“Aaron Russell is playing in the centre of midfield and he is a very good player for the Essex Senior League, so for us to come through the challenge was very pleasing.”

Barkingside are next in action on Sunday when they host Stowmarket Town in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup.

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