Written by: Chris Brenta
A homecoming never felt so good. After over a month since Carshalton put three past Merstham in the third qualifying round of the FA Trophy, they faced off against Barking with both teams knowing that a loss could mean this would be their final game of football of 2020…
Peter Adeniyi made two changes to the team that dispatched of Merstham in November, David Fisher and Patrick Ohman have both moved onto pastures new, so Eddie Allan made his fourth start of the season in goal and Dan Hector came in to make his full debut for the club.
Right from the off the Robins controlled the game, Barking sat deep and let the reds dictate play, evidently hoping they could hit back on the counter. Carshalton utilised the wingers and full backs to spread the play and maximise the width of the field, at times Procter and Cheadle were spraying the ball from one side to the other almost at will.
After 27 minutes Carshalton’s dominance paid off, a shot from Clunis fell to Harry Ottaway on the penalty spot and he slipped it under under Christian Mbeta-Kutima to break the deadlock. Jubilation quickly turned to despair for the home fans though, as right from the kick-off, Eddie Allan came out his box to collect a long ball but Sam Owusu’s pace got him there first. The two clashed and referee Lawrence Torz-Brown was left with no other option than to show Allan a red and send him for an early bath.
As if losing your keeper and going down to ten men wasn’t bad enough, the Robins had no substitute keeper to bring on, therefore Ola Sogbanmu stepped up and made a slightly different return from injury than he had probably planned, Tommy Bradford making way.
The Robins saw out the half and still managed to maintain control of the game even with a man less. Barking’s only real tactic was to attempt the long ball and utilise the pace of Luke and Anau but absolutely nothing got past Procter and Read who were faultless throughout.
One would think that Barking would come flying out the traps in the second half but again it was the Robins that had the majority of the possession, and within eight minutes of the restart another well worked Carshalton move resulted in them doubling their lead. Hector, who was showing he was fully deserving of his start picked out Clunis, who worked a nice one two with Ottaway, before a beautifully weighted cut back found the on-coming Bobby Price who smashed it in off the cross-bar and opened his account for the season.
2-0 meant the team and fans alike could relax a little, they now had a buffer and took the foot off the gas allowing Barking more of the ball as the Robins sat back to conser