Barnes Beavers (1) 2 Guildford (2) 4
By Dave Williams
Beavers beaten but unbowed
On 9th February 1964 Beatlemania hit the United States like an overnight thunderbolt when John, Paul, George and Ringo appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first of three consecutive Sunday night appearances on network television. The Fab Four were an immediate sensation watched by 73 million screaming fans and became the only topic of conversation across the offices, bars and diners of America the following day. In contrast, Beavermania has been going strong in Barnes for 20 years now and no doubt the main topic being discussed in every artisan coffee shop, rustic bakery and bespoke delicatessen in SW13 this week is how the Beavers suffered an unfortunate 4-2 loss despite a creditable performance against one of SOHL’s top sides at Shene School on Saturday morning.
I don’t think anyone would disagree that the Beavers have had rather a topsy-turvy season with some excellent results against opponents at the top of the table and some unexpected losses against teams further down and so with the knowledge that we are more than a match for anyone in the league on our day, we looked forward to the game against promotion chasing Guildford.
The first half was very even and with both sides attacking with gusto it could have been 4-4 at the break. Barnes took an early lead in the first couple of minutes when Pops pounced on a loose ball inside Guildford’s D and despite being at a difficult angle to shoot he found the target and his shot proved to be too powerful for the keeper. Guildford came back immediately and for the next 10-15 minutes they created a number of chances which forced James into several good saves and Alex also made a goal-saving tackle to keep us ahead. Guildford’s pressure eventually told about halfway through the half however when a short corner shot found its way past the defence but having being pegged back the Beavers started to find chances on the break with Pops and Rory creating havoc (with one opportunity made from a direct 80 yard pass from Dean) and between them they caused the Guildford keeper the need to produce three good saves of his own. At 1-1 with half time approaching the game was finely poised but in the final minute before the interval Guildford took the lead when a switched short corner gave their centre forward the chance to score from close range and give them a 2-1 lead.
The second half was just as full of incident but with the Beavers creating most of the play and Chris was especially involved in the middle of the action, forcing the Guildford keeper into three more saves from short corner efforts (including a flick which was going into the roof of the net before the keeper palmed it clear) and having another shot cleared off the line. Eventually our pressure paid off with another short corner shot from Chris hitting the back-board which deservedly brought us back on equal terms but almost immediately afterwards Guildford re-took the lead with a fine piece of skill resulting in a goal scored from a narrow angle. A few minutes later another well-switched Guildford short corner was converted at close range leaving us with an uphill battle at 4-2 but with three late green cards shown (two for Guildford, one for Barnes) the chances continued to come with Pops just unable to reach a goal-line cross at the far post and Bussey shooting narrowly wide. At the final whistle there was disappointment in the defeat but pride in another good performance.
Following the game the Beavers remain 8th in SOHL Division 2 while Guildford climb up one place in the league to 3rd – they are now just a single point away from the promotion places. As with every Beaver of the week decision this season, it was very hard to call with so many fine performances throughout the team but as much of the good work was built through the centre of the midfield during the game the award this week goes to Ollie. Congratulations Ollie!