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 conserve their energy. Despite this, the new Robins number one hardly had anything to do with the defence keeping Barking at bay, and when he was called upon, he made light work of anything the attackers could throw at him.
Barking made three quick subsitutes to try and change the game with Bradford, Boakye and top scorer Dadson all entering the fray, but even they had little impact.
With 15 left on the clock the Robins made a change of their own with Lewis White making his return to the club, and he wasted little time in reminding the home support just what they have missed since he left. With the last kick of the game he put the icing on the cake, a fantastic cross field ball from Ottaway, found White in space, he cut in on the right and nonchalantly curled his effort past a helpless Mbeta-Kutima. 3-0 and job well and truly done.
All in all, it was a very professional and resolute performance from the ten men of Carshalton up there with one of their best of the season. Every player on the pitch gave their absolute everything, with Kershaney Samuels (who didn’t stop running) optimising the whole team’s efforts, as, with the sound of the final whistle, he fell to the floor in an exhausted heap.
The win means Carshalton will head to Swindon Supermarine next Tuesday night in the second round with the winners going on to face either Bath City or Chelmsford City on the following Saturday.