Adam Dennehey returns with a look at Barkingside’s decent start to the season.
Whilst Redbridge at the weekend started their season with a 2-1 win at Thurrock against our local rivals Romford, the club’s tenants Barkingside have already played 5 games this season and so far have won 2, drawn 2 and (if you can keep up with basic mathematics) lost 1. It’s been a good start to the season for Matt Frew’s side, a start that has pleased the side’s fans who in the last couple of years have seen the side struggle at the start of seasons going out of the FA Cup and FA Vase at the first hurdle.
Whilst Barkingside indeed crashed out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle to a good Great Yarmouth Town side 3-0 in a replay after drawing the original tie at the Oakside 1-1, the signs are that once again the club are going to be challenging for Essex Senior League honours really for the first time since Tony Fenn and Kris Taylor’s final season jointly in charge of the club way back in the 2007/2008 season.
Barkingside’s side has a good blend of youth and experience. Players like Danny Callaway, Jordan Tolan and Mark Steadman (who famously appeared in a BBC3 documentary series exploring India’s sweatshops industry) have the know-how to succeed at this level. They also have a good keeper in Leigham Stone (who I went to University with) who has looked in excellent form so far this season and good raw young talent up top with Fabian Prince (a striker who is as quick as Aaron Lennon, who actually looks up to find team-mates) and Luke With (who is probably the tallest player the club has had in their 115 years of existence).
Interestingly, the side also include Richard Oxby (whose brother spent time at Norwich City as a youngster) who was in my primary school class. Richard’s got Ryman League experience playing for Grays Athletic and Romford and has bagged a goal already this season scoring the side’s equaliser versus Great Yarmouth last weekend.
Down the years the club has always had players who have that never-say-die attitude and in all fairness since I first begun watching them in December 2006, have always produced teams who always gave their all, despite not being blessed with talent. Even when the team lost a humiliating 15 games in a row in the run-in of the 2010/11 season, the lads were putting in the effort in, as they suffered due to players making individual mistakes at key-times in matches rather than the team collectively putting in a dismal performance. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s the truth honestly!
In their most recent match, Barkingside defeated 1893 Enfield 2-1 at the Oakside with big-striker With (who has set himself a target of becoming the club’s top scorer this season) bagging a brace on his first appearance of the season after returning from suspension. On paper it looks a great result and one that will give Frew and his team a lot of confidence as they head into a run of four fixtures on the road.
One area that probably will concern Frew so far this season is set-pieces. Of the two Barkingside games I’ve seen this year, their delivery from corners and free-kicks have been very poor. Set-pieces are a major source of goals at this level of football and I am sure that Frew and his coaching staff will have done something to amend their shortcomings in this department.
Where can I see Barkingside finishing this year? Top 3 in the ESL, it will be vital though that Frew can keep the nucleus of his side together and at key stages in the season will be able to bring in players who can hit the ground running and benefit his side straight away. It would be nice if they could do well in the Vase and go on a cup run, but a first league championship since 1999 could very well be on the cards. What better way that would be to celebrate the club’s 55th season playing at the Oakside.
Big thanks to Adam for this piece. You can follow him on twitter: @TheMotormen