Barkers stumble at Dandenong

Barker Christian Porcaro (21) challenges for the ball. Picture: SUPPLIED.

By Peter Stephenson

A sunny WJ Turner Reserve in Noble Park North was the venue as Barkers (fifth) visited Greater Dandenong (sixth) in round 5 of State 2 South-East.

Dandy are the former Richmond, whom we last played in 1992, and today was also our first visit to this venue since 2008. Danny Aye and Dan Higgins were replaced by Taylan Hakki and Brett Tronconi, while Maxim Solovyev was set to join the 200 games club, and Geordie Scott was playing his 50th.

Barkers had an early attack snuffed out before it all went horribly wrong after 83 seconds. Mohammad Sani found himself unmarked at the edge of the box and hit a beauty in the top corner to keeper Mark Naumowicz’s left for 1-0 Dandy. Then on nine minutes it got worse for Barkers. Sani outpaced the defence and was in a race for the ball with Naumowicz. The keeper won and caught the ball, but outside the area – free kick to Dandy.

The kick was slammed into the Barkers’ wall, but the linesman had spotted a handball. Penalty was the harsh decision, and Sani placed the ball to Naumowicz’s left and just inside the post for 2-0 Dandy. Shellshocked Barkers won a corner on 14 minutes on the right. John-Paul Cooper’s kick was met with a glancing header from Scott which was deflected wide, and the next corner was cleared to Ross Clark, who hit the loose ball wide.

Further Barker corners were punched clear under pressure by home keeper Andrew Mensah, while at the other end, Barkers were struggling to cope with the pace of Sani. On 25 minutes Sani hit a volley over the bar as Dandy continued to threaten. Barkers then had a couple of chances as Hakki fed JP.Cooper, who hit a shot at Mensah. Then Scott was released on the right and crossed for Hakki, who hit a first-time shot wide. HT: Dandy 2-0 Barkers.

Within 35 seconds of the restart, Barkers released Scott, whose shot was held by Mensah. Then Scott initiated a nice move which put JP.Cooper free, but Mensah bravely dived at his feet. Scott seemed to be fighting a lonely battle up front against a massed defence. Meanwhile, Solovyev came on to become the eighth Barker to play 200 games.

On the hour, Scott was fouled at the edge of the box and won a free kick. Ben Cooper drove the ball into the wall, and Ray Markley hit the rebound wide. All of which was in vain, as Barkers were now further punished by a flash of brilliance. Jalil Nabizadah had the ball about 40 yards out and spotting Naumowicz off his line, hit a superb long shot into the net for 3-0 Dandy. If you see a better goal this year, good luck to you.

The game had slipped away from Barkers, but they pulled one back with 13 minutes left. A long ball came to Scott, who slipped a neat little ball to Clark, who found the bottom corner of the net to make it 3- 1 Dandy. Three minutes later B.Cooper hit a long ball towards goal and Mensah and ball were barged into the net. Unfortunately, the ref remembered that this wasn’t the 1957 cup final and gave a foul on the keeper instead of a goal to Barkers.

The icing on the Dandy cake came on full time, as Sani beat three men on the right and crossed for Macka Hancox, who hit a screamer beyond Naumowicz into the net. There was just time for Barkers’ Jerome Valadon to shoot over before the ref put Barkers out of their misery. FT: Dandy 4-1 Barkers.

You could blame the pitch, but Barkers were off their best today, and were undone by some excellent finishing. Barkers sink back to mid-table and a gap is slowly opening up to the top sides.

The reserves strolled to a 6-0 win with goals from Zac Teese, James Barber 3, Liam Seaye and Lachlan Everett. The thirds drew 1-1 at Officer City, and over 35s won 2-1 at Endeavour United. Junior winners were: boys under 14B (3-1 v Manningham United), boys U14D (5-4 v Knox City), boys U13B (5-3 v Whitehorse United), boys U12D Red (5-3 v Whitehorse United), girls U17/18 (9-0 v Riversdale), girls U16 (9-1 v Glen Waverley) and girls U14 (8-1 v Kensington).

Next week, the women host Templestowe Wolves (Esther Park, Friday 8.30pm) and the men host Chisholm United (Esther Park, Saturday 1pm and 3pm). See you down the Kennel!