Barn settle for a point

DESPITE Barn giving the Crumlin United defence a real old battering, they had to settle for a point on Saturday (November 5) in this enthralling 1-1 draw on a sticky Haslett Park pitch in the Amateur League’s Division 1A.

It was second-placed Crumlin, however, who almost got off to a flyer, with an opportunist strike from one-time Larne defender Manny Maxwell, neatly tipped over the bar by keeper David Harrison. Crumlin went close again when Ryan Gorman screwed one wide of the left-hand upright.

Barn’s first meaningful moment came on 11 minutes when Christopher Shimmon’s low drive was comfortably held by keeper Mark McKeown.

The Carrick boys lived dangerously a minute later when Gorman was hauled up for an offside, with the referee having failed to spot Mark Kelly out on the right, playing the striker onside.

On 22 minutes, Paul Mathers just got a vital touch to Gorman’s right-wing cross, to divert it clear of Michael Scannell who was left all alone with only Harrison to beat at the back post.

At the other end, John Mathers almost turned in a Danny Wright free-kick but was foiled by keeper McKeown. Barn had a penalty appeal turned down when the younger Mathers brother went down under Pat Wall’s challenge, but the well placed Mr. McKnight adjudged that the joint Crumlin manager had won the ball cleanly in the tackle, and there were no real complaints either from Mathers, who was swiftly back on his feet.

Mathers, however, certainly was fouled on 29 minutes, with Maxwell exceedingly fortunate to escape without even a yellow card after what looked like a two-footed challenge on the Barn winger.

Barn went close again, when Anto McCullough made an exquisitely timed challenge, just when Gary McKee was about to pull the trigger.

At the other end, Stephen Murray sneaked in at the far post, but could only head Burke’s free-kick into the side netting. Gorman made a telling break down the right, only to scuff his shot straight at Harrison.

Meanwhile, Barn were a lot closer, with a Shimmon snapshot that careered off McCullough, veering just wide of the right-hand post.

It was Crumlin, however, who ought to have broken the stalemate on 44 minutes when Gorman, who this time did look offside, was allowed to proceed, but, with just Harrison to beat, he yanked his shot over the bar.

Barn resumed firing on all cylinders, with McKeown denying Shimmon, who then also nodded one over from just a few yards out.

Noel Anderson’s low drive took a slight deflection off McCullough before whizzing just the wrong side of the right-hand post.

On 58 minutes, Mr McKnight gave home skipper Paul Mathers the benefit of the doubt, settling for yellow, for a cynical tug on Murray who had spotted a gap in the home defence.

Generally, it was Barn who were producing the greater menace, with Andy Kane, just a few yards out, just failing to get a touch, as Shimmon had flicked on a Harrison free-kick.

McKee ought to have set the scoreboard clicking on 69 minutes, side-footing an Anderson cross against the crossbar.

Instead, it was Crumlin who showed the way on 74 minutes; a Fergal Burke free-kick cleared only as far as Murray who rifled the ball low and hard into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

Murray was back in the thick of things as Barn took the re-centre, with a foul on Kane. Things then got rather heated as the referee was cautioning Murray.

When the free-kick was eventually taken, Anderson, at the far post was foiled by McKeown, the loose ball bouncing out to John Mathers whose overhead kick was turned into the net by Crumlin defender Maxwell.

Thankfully, things cooled down again, although the visitors could have regained their lead on 84 minutes but for Harrison racing off his line to block a quickly taken free-kick from one-time Carrick Ranger Corr.

Paul Mathers avoided further censure after chopping down Conor Mahoney just outside the box, but three minutes from time, Mr McKnight could do nothing else but brandish a second yellow for a tug on Wall, which may even have been worthy of a straight red.

In a frantic final fling, it was ten-man Barn who came closer to winning it, with Kane fizzing one just past the left-hand post, and Anderson robbed by another well-timed tackle by McCullough, after having wriggled past two defenders.

On Saturday, it’s back to Haslett Park for the visit of second-bottom Saintfield United. The match was kindly sponsored by McNeill Transport.

Barn United: Harrison – Kelly, R McAllister, P Mathers, D Wright – J Mathers (Wakeham), McKee, Anderson, Lammey (Harris) – Kane, Shimmon. Sub (unused) Owens.