Fantastic result for impressive Barry Town United
9:32am Thursday 19th December 2013 in Sport
WHAT A MATCH: Barry Town United's unbeaten run in the Welsh League appeared in grave danger on Saturday afternoon
ONE-nil down against a side unbeaten since August, reduced to ten men and missing all three of their first team strikers, Barry Town United's unbeaten run in the Welsh League appeared in grave danger on Saturday afternoon.
However, a stirring second-half comeback saw Gavin Chesterfield's makeshift team take all three points from promotion-chasing Risca United, pulling a fine 2-1 win out of the hat.
Goals from Troy Greening (72 minutes) and Michael Hartley (76 minutes) helped Barry to perhaps their finest result of the season, in front of a fervent Jenner Park crowd.
This came after Risca had taken the lead with a controversial 50th-minute penalty, following the dismissal of defender Paul Morgan.
The match had shown all the signs of a classic six-pointer on paper, with Risca arriving at Jenner Park a point ahead of the Town, albeit having played three games more.
Missing the talents of TJ Nagi, Jordan Cotterill and Ryan Jenkins up front, enterprising wingers Dale Howarth and Michael Hartley took on attacking responsibilities for Barry, with midfielder Troy Greening thrust into a more advanced role.
With Bobby Briers and Geraint Frowen also unavailable, Town boss Chesterfield shuffled the deck, giving a first start in 15 months to young midfielder Scott Jones; a long-term injury loss who had re-emerged as a substitute in the weeks leading to Saturday.
The first half resembled something of a chess match, as the depleted Barry side endeavoured to keep their shape and carve out opportunities against a strong and organised Risca XI.
At one stage, Barry defender Lee Baldock fell victim to a crunching tackle on the eastern touchline, but the full-back recovered well; working effectively with Lewis Cosslett, Ryan Evans and Morgan to keep the eager visitors at bay.
With both sides restricted to half-chances, the half-time stalemate proved a fair reflection of a balanced and competitive match.
However, the top of the table clash would soon be turned on its head, mere minutes after the teams returned for the second half.
In the 50th minute, a major offside call was ignored, allowing a Risca attacker to finally break clear into the Barry penalty area.
As the Cuckoos forward hit the ground, a penalty kick was awarded; only for the official to then astonish spectators by issuing Morgan a straight red card.
While few would debate the actual penalty, the dismissal and lack of an offside flag would rile those in Barry colours on and off the pitch.
Nevertheless, Risca's Tony Wallace kept his composure, sending Barry goalkeeper Dan Bradley the wrong way to put the visitors one precious goal to the good.
Taking into account the absentees and the nature of the tough first half, many Barry supporters would likely have taken a point at the interval.
However, the perceived injustice of the opener brought the Jenner Park crowd to life, and they raised their voices to spur the ten men of Barry on for the final 40 minutes.
While the first half had been a drab spectacle at times, the second delivered plenty of excitement, and both sides hit the crossbar during this period.
Howarth meanwhile, making the most of an extended run in the starting line-up, continued where he left off at Cefn Druids the prior weekend; peppering the visitors' goal with shots from distance.
Ten-man Barry continued to knock on the door; with captain James Saddler and anchorman Ryan Dorrian providing solid foundations for their team-mates ahead to press on.
Much like the previous weekend, the period from the hour mark saw some fine attacking play; and the belief that Barry could turn the match around appeared to be growing by the minute.
In the 72nd minute, Greening broke forward, beating the offside trap and lifting the ball over the outcoming Risca goalkeeper to equalise for the ten-man Town.
Then, after 76 minutes, a passing move that began in the Barry six-yard box culminated with Hartley drilling the ball home, finishing from a similar position to Greening's minutes earlier.
It felt a significant moment in the season thus far; a testament to the Barry side's never-say-die spirit and commitment to their style of play.
While grown men embraced in the grandstand, the work was far from over; at one point, a vital last-gasp tackle saw Cosslett take the ball off the foot of a Risca forward, who appeared primed for a clear shot at the top corner.
In the dying stages, Chesterfield gave a run-out to 16-year-old youth team forward Bradley O' Loughlin, replacing the effective Greening.
O' Loughlin's fresh legs kept Barry on the front foot, as his team-mates worked to retain possession and close out the match.
The final whistle prompted scenes of celebration in the stands and they continued after the match; with leaders Llanwern dropping points at Bettws, Barry now stand four points off the top spot, with three games in hand.
On Saturday, Barry are back in action at Jenner Park, when fourth-placed Lliswerry are the visitors (2pm).
Lliswerry play their home fixtures on a 3G surface at Newport Stadium and have drawn five of their last six, winning the other.
They were also involved in one of the games of the season in August; a 4-4 thriller against Llanwern.
Strikers Jordan Cotterill and Ryan Jenkins are among those poised to return for Barry, with Santa Claus also expected to pay a visit.
Entry on Saturday is £4 (adults), £3 (OAPs/students) and £2 (unaccompanied children) at the turnstiles.