Barking boss Gardner wants to use Cup to embed new system and hand out opportunities

Barking attacker Isaac Westendorf is surrounded against Frenford at the Jack Carter Centre

Barking attacker Isaac Westendorf is surrounded against Frenford at the Jack Carter Centre - Credit: Terry Gilbert

Barking manager Justin Gardner is using the Len Cordell Memorial Cup as a chance to test out a new system and hand youngsters an opportunity to shine ahead of the next season.

The Blues returned to action after five months away with a 1-1 draw against Frenford in the first match of the group stages. 

Gardner’s men took the lead through Isaac Westendorf but were pegged back by a second-half screamer from Owen James.  

“Football is a beautiful sport and as soon as we had the opportunity to start playing competitive football games we bit at that chance, so I'm very happy to be back, and it’s pleasing that half of the squad is back," said Gardner.

“Half of the squad are waiting to return in pre-season due to not playing in months and that is down to them but for me if I'm someone that hasn’t played football in five months I would be champing at the bit.

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“It’s a short career and some of those players are one year closer to retirement. We’ve got a very young squad at the moment but we’re using it as opportunity to give the under-23s a chance and the fringe players from the first team last season. 

“They’ve all got an opportunity to grasp a first-team place.” 

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He added: "We only started training last Tuesday, the majority of the boys have looked after themselves, but there is a few that are still unfit but it gives me a chance now to work with a new system that I want to use next season.” 

The Blues boss was pleased with the overall efforts from his squad and hopes they can keep improving under his new system. 

“It was a good game against a very good Frenford team on Saturday,” he added.

“A draw was probably a fair result in terms of chances created. They had a couple of good ones and so did we. 

“In terms of possession we had the vast majority of it, but possession doesn’t win you football matches, it’s goals that do. 

“There is no right or wrong way of playing football, but I was quite pleased with the way we played with the ball, and the way we stuck to our formation. 

“It is something that is going to take a few months to really work on it.” 

Barking will welcome Hackney Wick to Mayesbrook Park for their next fixture on Tuesday, April 20.

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