FA Trophy: Barking 2 Chipstead 1
PUBLISHED: 10:26 11 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:26 11 October 2017
Barking boss Justin Gardner finally broke his FA Trophy hoodoo to pick up his first win after eight consecutive first round defeats.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Blues in this replay as, after a goalless first half which they dominated, the hosts saw Sam Bell put the visitors ahead on the hour with their first clear chance of the game.
Barking felt Bell was in an offside position before going on to score and it seemed like luck was not on their side as they missed chances either side of Chipstead’s goal.
Goldy Capela headed just wide and Albert Levett saw his shot whistle over from Alan Taylor’s cross, before Gardner called on reinforcements from the bench.
And with 10 minutes to go the fresh legs played their part to put a tiring Chipstead back line to the sword.
Jay Knight asked questions of his marker, constantly running in behind, but could only manage to hit the goalkeeper with his efforts.
Barking’s pressure finally paid off when Theo Ola’s corner was met by the head of an unmarked Knight who did well to cushion the ball in by the far post to draw the Blues level.
And just when the tie looked like going into extra time, Ola displayed a great deal of composure to confidently curl in an injury-time free kick from 25 yards to send Barking through to the next round where they will face Beaconsfield Town at home.
Gardner was delighted to clinch a long-awaited Trophy win, saying: “Up until we scored I thought it would be a day when we’ve had loads of chances and I think the chairman is going to send me a bill because I’ve given the dugout a good kick in!
“Eight years it’s been. I’ve never won a game and always been knocked out in the first round of this cup. That’s why I’m smiling even more – I’ve got the hoodoo out of my system.
“It’s a great free kick from Theo. That’s what he does, he should be giving that every week, not just at this level. I’m not shocked that he scored it, I’m more shocked when he doesn’t score them.”
Gardner was pleased to see his substitutions pay off and felt it was indicative of the strength in Barking’s squad this season.
He added: “We had a lot of strength on the bench and I thought we would get a goal from the bench. We got the winning goal and an equaliser.
“Shomari (Barnwell) didn’t even get on, that’s how much quality we had on the bench and we made all three subs.
“Jay Knight, I thought me and him were going to have a boxing match after that miss before his equaliser. I was lost for words but he’s come on and scored a header so he made up for it.
“Kieran Hughes-Mason, Theo Ola and Jay Knight would walk into most teams in our league and Kieran was brilliant when he came on.
“But I’ve got to give special praise to Alan Taylor, he was absolutely outstanding. I’m very proud of all my boys.”
The win saw Barking bank £3,000 in prize money ahead of their return to Bostik North action against Mildenhall Town on Saturday.
And Gardner believes his side are on the verge of something special, having had good reason to celebrate himself recently.
He said: “The team that started set the game up well for the finish. They absolutely ran them out of the game and the fans are getting value for money off the back of our performances.
“It’s only a matter of time before a team is on the receiving end of an absolute tonking from us.
“All in all, that’s a well deserved and much needed £3,000 in the kitty and I’ve just welcomed my daughter into the world with a win, so I’m a happy man.”
Barking: Bowles, Tarbard, Levett, Okwera, Adeyemi, O’brien, Taylor, Seymour, Shaban (Hughes-Mason 72), Gilchrist (Ola 73), Capella (Knight 59). Unused subs: Barnwell, Ferguson.