Boss Gardner knows league, not cup, is where Barking will be judged this season

PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 October 2020

Manny Abgoola collects the ball (pic Terry Gilbert)

Manny Abgoola collects the ball (pic Terry Gilbert)


Barking manager Justin Gardner knows the league is where his side will be judged rather than in the FA Cup as they look to put points on the board this weekend.

Sam Owusu is beaten to the ball by a Kings Langley rival (pic Terry Gilbert)Sam Owusu is beaten to the ball by a Kings Langley rival (pic Terry Gilbert)

The Blues welcome FC Romania to Mayesbrook Park on Saturday for an Isthmian League South Central fixture after success in the FA Cup last weekend.

Gardner’s men were due to travel to Chalfont St Peter in the league last night (Tuesday).

“It’s our main focus, it’s hard to go from the highs and lows of the FA Cup, but the league is where we’re judged and it’s where we want to be more successful as we’re not ever going to win the FA Cup,” wqie Gardner.

“FC Romania are going to be suited to playing on our pitch as they’re a footballing team, so I’m sure they’re licking their lips about playing on our surface.

“They beat us at home last year so we have to make sure we’re up for it. They were one of few teams that beat us at our ground.”

Barking reached the third qualifying round of the FA Cup for the first time since 1998 as they won 3-2 on penalties against Kings Langley.

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The Blues played out a 2-2 draw before the penalty shoot-out where goalkeeper Manny Agboola proved to be the star of the show.

“Very pleased because we did our preparations on the opposition and we got that spot on for about 78 minutes and we were in total control of the game,” added Gardner.

“It was a rare mistake from one of our midfielders, he thought he heard a call from one of our players to leave the ball, but it was actually the opposition, and ended up putting their striker through on goal where he scored.

“The tie turned on its head. It’s the magic of the FA Cup, they had the belief and made it 2-2 with a couple of minutes to go.

“It was not a good finish as the ascendancy was with them but with about a minute to go, thinking of penalties, I brought on two attackers and took off two defensive-minded players. I think that proved to be vital for us as those two boys scored.

“Manny saved three penalties and went on to be the hero for us. It was full of highs and lows. At 2-0 I didn’t see us losing the game, I felt we’d actually score a third.

“You then get the feeling of disappointment as you’ve not seen out the game, and we’ve not been too great at penalties over the years. I wasn’t confident we’d score all five of our penalties but I had confidence Eman would save one. He saved three so he deserves the plaudits.”

It is now a trip away to Hartley Wintney in the next round.

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