Under 23's return to winning ways
By Graham Dodd
Enfield Town 2 Barking 0
On a cold and frosty night at Donkey Lane, Town returned to winning ways with a solid victory over mid table Barking, despite some concerns over the pitch. It was totally playable at the outset, but hardened as the game wore on, prompting some Barking players to suggest to the referee the pitch was becoming dangerous; though the score was 2-0 at the time!
Town reshuffled with Josh Davison unavailable through illness which saw Junior Mubiayi as a makeshift centre forward, with Bilal Sayoud operating on the left and Brad Empson and Blue Gallagher both returning to the starting line up. Town were quickly out of the blocks and throughout the first half looked much the better side, dominating play with some good, controlled football.
Barking were limited to one shot from distance which just arrowed over the bar, but in truth, Teddy Wallduck never had a direct shot to save over 90 minutes. Town's ability to switch the ball from side to side constantly kept Barking on the run and Sayoud was an early threat on the left, but home debutant Samson Esan was equally giving the Barking defence a torrid time on the right.
Town made the breakthrough almost predictably from a Sayoud cross into the box after they had broken from deep and outpaced Barking at the back, which resulted in Mubiayi tapping home from close range, though Esan was close at hand in case. The goal seemed to deflate Barking who had competed well up to that stage and it was no real surprise when shortly after from Sayoud corner, captain Joe Devaney touched the ball home.
Chances came and went partly through some smart saves by Barking's keeper, but also from wayward shooting by Town as players became a little greedy, though the keeper did particular well to keep out an effort from Kyle Lynch just before the break.
Barking came out for the second half with far more intent and a slow start from Town allowed them to enjoy more possession, though Town defended well and were rarely really threatened. Town's momentum increased as the half progressed and the introduction of Jamie Doyle in place of the limping Mubiayi and Nej Gench for Esan, did little to affect the flow, with Lewis King also enjoying a good game at full back.
Town still never really threatened the Barking goal despite their possession, but as the pitch hardened in the closing stages it really was a question of seeing the game out and taking the 3 points and a clean sheet, though Sayoud did hit a post. George Quarrington-Carter was introduced with 25 minutes to go for his first action in over a year out and enjoyed the short cameo as his first steps back.
With just a handful of games remaining, Town, as at February 1st, trail Bowers & Pitsea by one point, but visit their challengers on the 27th, though they still also have to play 3rd placed Haringey Borough on the 6th, who at the same stage are 8 points behind Town with 3 games in hand, so much to play for.
Teddy Wallduck, Brad Empson, Dan Heald, Kobi Coker (George Quarrington-Carter), Lewis King, Samson Esan (Nej Gench), Blue Gallagher, Kyle Lynch, Joe Devaney (capt), Bilal Sayoud, Junior Mubiayi (Jamie Doyle) Subs unused Dante Mc Intosh, Duewaan Mc Kennon