FFV: Anniversary special for Mooroolbark

MOOROOLBARK opened its golden jubilee league season – the club was formed in 1962 – with a home fixture against Sandringham at Esther Park on Saturday.
Nanjing Night Net

The Barkers started well, with a good one-two down the left between Yannis Christoforou and Doug Shields supplying Brechan Adams, who turn smartly and shot just wide.

On 17 minutes, Nhlanhla Dube won a tackle and found Craig Kerr. He delivered a lovely cross-field ball to Christoforou, whose first touch took the ball too close to the Sandy goalkeeper.

The breakthrough came just before half-time. The Barkers had a free-kick in midfield, Liam Swaine put a good ball in to the near post, where Shields was waiting with a well-taken header to open the scoring.

Almost immediately, Adams skipped clear of the defence and lobbed Sandy keeper Adam Chesterton, but the ball went narrowly wide.

Following a short spell of Barker ascendancy, the home side now got careless. A game of pinball in the Barkers half saw the ball finally fall to Chris Leeming, in space about 20 yards out. He hit a lovely curling shot beyond the dive of Erik Deichen to equalise.

With just under half an hour to go, the home side produced the move of the match.

Mergs Topali, in attacking midfield, found Dube on the right wing. Some very neat interplay between the two ended with Dube crossing beautifully for Adams, whose deft glancing header gave Chesterton no chance – it will be surprising if Barkers score a better goal all year.

However, this brilliance was almost undone five minutes later, as a fine half-volley from Fitzpatrick brought a superb save from Deichen, diving low to his left.

The Barkers’ nerves were finally calmed when in stoppage time as Christoforou squared to Holly in space.

Alex Holly’s shot was stopped by Chesterton, but the substitute followed up and netted the rebound for his first senior goal to seal the win.

Barkers reserves also grabbed the three points with a 2-1 win, the goals coming from Keegan Coe and Trent Hardcastle.