Barry boys are comeback kids - Monmouth Town 3 Barry Town 4
12:51pm Friday 8th February 2013 in Sport
BARRY Town sensationally overturned a 3-1 half-time deficit to record this memorable MacWhirter Welsh League win at Monmouth Town on Saturday.
While the eyes of much of the country were focused on the Wales v Ireland rugby international at the Millennium Stadium, much greater drama could be found at the comparably humble Monmouth Sports Ground, where Barry earned substantial retribution for their loss to the ambitious Kingfishers earlier in the season.
On a fine day for football, especially for February, Ryan Jenkins opened the scoring in Barry’s favour after 12 minutes, only for his team to fall victim to three Monmouth goals in succession before the break.
While few could complain about the nature of Rob Laurie’s equaliser, the Kingfishers’ second and third came within a 90-second spell that saw Barry Town reduced to ten men – defender Lee Baldock treated off the pitch for a knock sustained moments prior.
Nonetheless, the Dragons’ defence was undeniably sub-par – Laurie pouncing on a header with minimal opposition to complete a training ground setpiece before appearing to put the game out of sight with his hat-trick.
Barry manager Gavin Chesterfield’s half-time team talks are rapidly becoming the stuff of legend.
Nonetheless, even the staunchest of Barry supporters could not have anticipated the events to follow when the 11 men in Linnet green trudged back onto the field.
After stopping the rot, Barry worked to gain a foothold in the contest, striving to implement their passing style on a pitch deteriorating throughout.
Ultimately, though, it would prove an effort from distance would hasten the turn of the tide. Collecting the ball some 20 yards from goal, midfielder Nickie Jones observed the goalkeeper’s position and struck a deft, measured effort into the top left-hand corner on 60 minutes.
The travelling supporters heralded the goal as one of the finest all season and, with the well-conditioned Barry side’s confidence ever-growing (in spite of the increasingly heavy pitch), the home side began to tire.
While Monmouth had enjoyed sustained periods of pressure in the first hour of play, the final third saw Barry unleash wave on wave of offence in pursuit of an equaliser.
In one notable attack, James Saddler’s pass was neatly forwarded by Jenkins into the path of TJ Nagi, whose low, right-footed effort from 12 yards agonisingly skimmed the base of the far post. Moments later, a goalmouth scramble saw the ball hoofed clear when it seemed almost destined for the net.
Ringing the changes, Chesterfield brought on the spritely Dale Howarth and new signing Jordan Cottrell, the former Ely Rangers striker who had impressed against Barry in the Welsh Cup in December.
Their presence added further force to the Barry barrage – yet time was proving an adversary.
It appeared the Dragons had made a breakthrough when a teasing cross from the far left eluded the Monmouth goalkeeper and was bundled in from close range. However, the referee disallowed the effort for an apparent shove and, minutes later, would deny Barry a penalty kick; after Nagi appeared to be pulled back in the area with a clear route to goal.
It was the second time in the match that Nagi’s calls for a spot-kick would be rejected – the Dragons’ top goalscorer enduring a frustrating afternoon, despite posing his usual dynamic threat up front.
Nevertheless, Barry would not be denied forever and, in the 85th minute, they levelled the match at 3- 3 – Jones leaping to connect with Cottrell’s in-swinging cross, the ball glancing favourably over the goalkeeper and into the Monmouth net.
At half-time, with the Dragons trailing 3-1, the travelling Barry fans had sung “we’re gonna win 4-3!” – with more than a hint of irony. Now this forecast seemed actually plausible, and the contingent in the stand willed the side on to find the winner.
With 90 minutes on the official’s watch, Barry pumped another free-kick into the danger zone. With hearts in mouths, the ball bounced off a gaggle of soaring players and fell to Howarth; whose effort in turn fell to captain Dan Clare. Clare’s low shot appeared to be heading wide, but Jones was on hand to re-direct it from close range, stabbing home past the goalkeeper to complete his hat-trick and triggering scenes of pure elation on the Barry bench and in the stand.
The unlikely comeback was complete.
Five minutes of stoppage time saw Monmouth go for broke, with the Kingfishers forcing both a goal line clearance from full-back Geraint Frowen and a superb flying save from goalkeeper Dan Bradley in the closing moments.
However, it was to be Barry Town’s day; a statement that seemed too implausible to contemplate less than an hour beforehand.
The victory maintained Gavin Chesterfield’s team’s 100 per cent winning start to 2013, and boosted them up to second in the MacWhirter Welsh League ahead of the mouth-watering visit of leaders Taffs Well tomorrow night.
The Wellmen curiously enjoyed a 4-3 win of their own at the weekend, against perennial contenders Haverfordwest County, no less, while the situation became even more unique on Monday evening when the Barry Town U19s beat their Taffs Well counterparts 4-3 in the MacWhirter Youth Cup (with two goals each for Ricky Sansome and Paul Morgan).
Though an entertaining match can never be guaranteed, one has to expect fireworks at Jenner Park when the senior sides meet on Friday – particularly after the hard-fought contest between the teams at Rhiw Dda’r earlier this season.
Entry on the gate is £5 adults, £4 OAPs, £3 students and £2 children, with accompanied children admitted free of charge.
The match day programme is available at £1, and will feature a profile of new signing Lewis Grant, as well as a Hall of Fame feature on Barry legend Ashley Griffiths.
All monies raised in the stadium and on the gate will go to the Barry Town Supporters’ Committee, which hires the ground for matches and covers the essential costs to keep the team on the field.
Meanwhile, it is now confirmed that Barry will travel to play Flint Town United in the Welsh Cup quarter-final on Saturday, March 2. The BTSC will be offering return coach travel to the match.