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Jokers 2 - 1 Barnes 3s (H)

7th March 2023

By Stephen 'Noaksy' Hardy

Team: Creaser, Baynton-Williams, Foster, Hardy, Stone, Bowen, Hey (Capt), Balbirnie, Mallinson, Walbran, Hodges, Kuipers, Mills, Milsted, Treherne

Umpires: Matt Anderson, Peter Lockhart-Straford (many thanks)

Hello readers. I have the ‘privilege’ of writing my second report in as many games. I won the DOD prize again!

The Jokers reported for duty early on Saturday at 9.30am. Despite the early start, the squad started brightly against a strong Barnes side. The whole Jokers team moved the ball smartly and the Barnes team were left to do a lot of defending in the first ten minutes. Barnes, though, defended stoutly and prevented the Jokers creating any clear cut chances.

Barnes always carried threat during the first half and were able to break quickly at times, posing problems for the Jokers on a few occasions. On one such occasion, after about 15 minutes, Barnes intercepted a Jokers move in their half, and within the blink of an eye, had made three or four passes before deflecting the ball into the net.

The disappointment of conceding didn’t dent the innovation or fluency of Surbiton’s play. Surbiton moved the ball well in midfield between Capt Hey, Stoner, Jon in the centre and Phil. Unfortunately, though, in the last third of the pitch, play was breaking up with the combination of good defending and the occasional wayward pass.

Surbiton did win the short corner tally in the first half. There were a couple of near misses. Overall, though, the game was closely contested and nothing much between the teams at half time.

The half time team talk centred around tweaking our strong performance. Phil suggested taking a little more time in an attempt to reduce passes being cut out. I piped up readers, suggesting by delaying our passes a little, we may provide more disguise.

Well, surprisingly, we managed to increase the pass completion percentage straight away in the second half. Fluent moves between Jason, Stoner, Philip and Jon up front were causing Barnes issues. Trevor was at his skilful best up the pitch and won many fouls and a few short corners.

A goal came after about eight minutes. Play was transferred left. Ollie played a nice pass to Rich, who first-time deflected expertly to provide some space. The space had Barnes out of position and they gave away a short corner, which was smashed by Stoner towards the corner of the goal. The shot had the goalie beaten. A Barnes defender used his best footfall skills to keep it out of the net. The resulting PF was flicked hard by Phil low into corner of the net.

Parity in the game didn’t last long. More dynamic moves from Roger, Trevor, Rich and Ollie (down the left) had Barnes scrambling in defence. The goal came after five minutes of dominance, with Rich starting the move with a strong tackle in midfield. A volley of about eight passes between our midfield and forwards was too much for Barnes to handle. Jon Milsted received the ball a few yards out with the keeper floundering. The ball was firmly pushed in.

Barnes tried to rally to get back into the game and put lots of effort into switching play but they were unable to carve out any meaningful moves. Jon snuffed out everything near him in the centre. Jason had a strong game at the back dealing with rare attacks.

The Jokers continued to dominate possession for the rest of the game. There were no clear cut chances for either team. A well fought 2-1 victory for the Jokers. Against a strong opposition this was a fine performance.

A shout out to stand-in keeper Lee Creaser who made a couple of vital saves in the first half to keep Barnes to only one goal.