MAY & BAKER 4 - 2 HARWICH & PARKESTON
By Andy Everett
Bakers leave it late again
Due to unforeseen circumstances it was Barking Football Club and not Barking Rugby Club that was to hold May & Baker's first home game of the season. The return of Bakers Manager, Micky Wetherall, from his wedding in Turkey, meant that the full contingent of Coaching Staff were able to orchestrate their first win of the new campaign.
The home side started quickly and the new strike partnership of debutant Dan Gilchrist and Reece Tranter combined in the first minute to release Tranter but his curling effort was saved well by the Shrimpers Sam Felgate. The resultant corner saw a James Barlow header drift wide. This bright start to the match had Bakers on top and the away side could not contain the pace of Barlow and Henry Osei. Following some good build up play between Tom Harvey and Lewis Warren, Barlow was given the opportunity to deliver from wide but his cross went high and long and the danger came to nothing. In the first 10 minutes the home side were creating chances and both Tranter and Gilchrist saw efforts well saved and blocked when in good positions to score.
However, it was Harwich & Parkeston who were to get on the score sheet first. In the 12th minute a quick break allowed Shaun Gunn a run on goal and the on rushing Michael Gooch was deemed to have clipped Gunn and the referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped skipper Jordan Heath who slotted home from 12 yards. 0-1
The away side had defended well in the opening exchanges and they began to get a foot hold in the game. They were finding room down their right hand side but for a couple of wayward crosses when well positioned and the home side could have been in further trouble. Bakers were beginning to get frustrated and their previous good passing game had disappeared. They should have fallen further behind when the lively Gunn was put through but could not finish one on one with the home side's keeper and shot tamely at Gooch.
This scare seemed to wake up the home side and they started finding their passes with accuracy. A long range effort from Tranter was saved comfortably by Felgate. Tranter and Gilchrist were starting to cause the away side problems with their continual movement and from a slick passing move involving Warren, Harvey and Gilchrist, Tranter found himself free but his left foot shot from an acute angle went wide.
The home side were dealt another blow in the 32nd minute as from a Harwich & Parkeston break, Dexter Stuart recovered well but in preventing a shot on goal he suffered an hamstring injury and had to be replaced by Elliott Carter. Harwich should have increased their lead as Luke Barnard just could not stretch enough to convert Bradley Westley's cross in the 39th minute.
With 40 minutes on the clock and the home management team getting their thoughts together on how they could revive their side at half time Dean Hall produced a pin point 30 yard pass in the path of Gilchrist who hammered home his shot into the roof of the net before Felgate could react. 1-1
It was now the Shrimpers management team that were in need of their halt time talk because a minute later, Osei tormented the Shrimpers Nicky Palmer and reached the by line to send in a dangerous low cross which the away side could not contain and Tranter was on hand to force the ball over the line. 2-1
HT: May & Baker 2 - 1 Harwich & Parkeston
The Shrimpers decided to make two changes for the start of the second half with Ben and Michael Hammond introduced to the action. These substitutions sparked life back into the away side and almost immediately after the restart Gooch was tested. A Harwich free kick evaded everyone and Gooch had to be alert to push aside for a corner. In the 58th minute Bakers made a further change replacing captain Richard Oxby, who was suffering a slight knock, with Joe Maskell. However, before the home side could re-shuffle their defence the Shrimpers were back on level terms. Some good work from Gunn and Barnard found Michael Hammond unmarked and he finished well. 2-2
This gave Harwich & Parkeston the confidence they needed to take control. Their midfield three were now finding space and some excellent passing moves created numerous chances but they could not find a way past the resilient Gooch, who pulled off one tremendous save to keep the scores level. Bakers could not find their passing game and were reduced to long balls to the dangerous Barlow and Osei. Against the run of play, Tranter was released by Warren but he shot wide of the goal when well placed.
With the away side controlling midfield, Bakers made their third and final substitution replacing Tranter with James Zanelli. This brought about a change in formation and all of sudden the home side began to find space and kept hold of the ball well. Then, with the game headed for a draw, Bakers struck in the 86th minute. Osei crossed dangerously from the right and the ball ricocheted into the path of Barlow who finished cooly. The Shrimpers bench could not believe what they were seeing and two minutes later, Harvey was found in acres of space on the right hand side of the penalty box and his deft pass set up Carter who's low hard shot found the back of the net. 4-2
With very little time left, Bakers saw out the remaining minutes before the referee's final whistle brought this exciting game to an end.
FT: May & Baker 4 - 2 Harwich & Parkeston
An enthralling game that had numerous chances at both ends with the home side converting more. It was a tremendous game to watch and played with the right amount of competitiveness and respect from both sides.