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Barking join Borough at top

PUBLISHED: 09:16 15 February 2015 | UPDATED: 09:16 15 February 2015

Barking matchwinner Steve Willis in action at Stansted (pic: Terry Gilbert)

Barking matchwinner Steve Willis in action at Stansted (pic: Terry Gilbert)

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Essex Senior League: Stansted 0 Barking 1

Barking captain Ben O'Brien goes close with a diving header at Stansted (pic; Terry Gilbert)Barking captain Ben O'Brien goes close with a diving header at Stansted (pic; Terry Gilbert)

Barking joined long-time runaway leaders Haringey Borough on 61 points at the top of the Essex Senior League table after a hard-fought win at Hargrave Park.

Steve Willis netted the only goal of the game, reacting quickest in the box when a free-kick was saved to lash the loose ball into the roof of the net for his seventh goal of the season.

And although they have played two games more than Haringey, Mick O’Shea’s Blues are now unbeaten in 10 matches and welcome Takeley to Mayesbrook Park on Tuesday.

With five fixtures in the division falling victim to waterlogged pitches, Barking got the go-ahead in Stansted although the pitch was heavily sanded in some areas.

Stansted keeper Reece Paine punches clear under pressure from Barking's James Barlow (pic; Terry Gilbert)Stansted keeper Reece Paine punches clear under pressure from Barking's James Barlow (pic; Terry Gilbert)

The visitors made a bright start, with leading scorer Tom Jeffes and Billy Rix having their best chances before captain Ben O’Brien saw his curling shot come back off a post.

Barking saw another opportunity go to waste, with the ball blazed over at the far post from a free-kick, before James Blackaby sent a free-kick past the far post for the hosts.

Stansted keeper Reece Paine did well to keep the ball out during a goalmouth scramble following a Barking free-kick, before Willis sent a good chance over from 15 yards as the first half ended goalless.

Barking applied more pressure after the restart, but Stansted had penalty appeals waved away after a challenge on Oliver Fortune.

The only goal arrived just before the hour, though, when Paine pushed out a well-struck free-kick only for Willis to pounce and fire home.

The Airportmen went close to a leveller soon after when a free-kick just evaded one of their players at the far post.

But Barking almost doubled their lead when Paine let a shot slip from his grasp before the ball was cleared off the line.

Ben Turner put a free header over on 70 minutes, before substitute Billy Reynolds saw a long-range free-kick pushed out by Paine late on.

But one goal proved enough to put Blues level on top, with Haringey’s home meeting against Tower Hamlets postponed, and O’Shea’s side could move clear at the summit against Takeley in midweek, with their title rivals in cup action.

Barking: J Willis, Ling, Turner, Taylor, Rix, O’Brien (Reynolds 72), Mtyanda (Killingback 80), S Willis, Jeffes, Staunton, Barlow (Creed 58).


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