Uist and Barra Football League: Match of the week
Southend 1 Barra 7
– Southend hammered after taking the lead
– Barra move ahead of Saints by virtue of goals scored
By Adam Gordon
Barra regained top spot in the Uist and Barra league after a superb victory over Southend at the new pitch at Daliburgh on Thursday, 4th June. Forget Yule Bryner and Steve McQueen, it was Craig Ferguson and James Davidson who assumed the roles of sharp shooters as they each scored hat-tricks in Barra’s very own production of the Magnificent Seven.
The result was all the more impressive given the start made by the home side, as it was Southend that took the lead inside the opening ten minutes of the game. Paul Steele showed great ability to cut inside the Barra defence at the edge of the box and strike the ball into the top corner beyond Cailean MacArthur to make it 1-0.
Unfortunately for the hosts their auspicious beginning to the game was not to last, as Barra soon drew level. James Davidson, who had scored in his side’s Co-op Cup quarter-final victory over Lochs in their previous match, took advantage of some slack defending by Southend to beat the offside trap and round the goalkeeper before simply placing the ball into the empty net.
With the scoreline now 1-1 after just 20 minutes and Southend’s lead wiped out, Barra quickly started to dominate proceedings. A neat passage of play between Craig Ferguson and Roddy MacInnes down the left-hand side created space for James Davidson, whose whipped ball across the face of the goal caused panic among the Southend defence, but ultimately failed to find a teammate.
By this point, goalscoring chances for Southend were few and far between, they did, however, cause some concern within the Barra defence when Andrew MacIssac evaded his marker inside the box, although his lobbed effort failed to test MacArthur.
Barra’s slick passing game and fluid attacking approach was rewarded in the 25th minute when they deservedly took the lead. Craig Ferguson continued where he left off from his man-of-the-match performance in Barra’s Co-op Cup win, by unleashing a fierce strike from inside the box, which hit the underside of the crossbar, before leaving the Southend goalkeeper stranded, to put his side 2-1 ahead.
With top spot in the league up for grabs, Barra began to lay siege to the Southend goal and it wasn’t long before they added to their lead. Ferguson again played a pivotal role, this time as creator. Receiving the ball just past the halfway line and spotting the run of his teammate, he bypassed the Southend defence with an inch-perfect ball with the outside of his right boot, straight into the path of James Davidson, who rounded the goalkeeper once more to put Barra 3-1 up after 35 minutes.
Southend and Barra battle for the ball during their match at Daliburgh
While half-time was certainly a welcome reprieve for Southend, the second half started in much the same fashion as the first ended, with Barra thoroughly in control. Craig Ferguson wasted no time in testing the Southend goalkeeper, to force a corner for his team. Barra scored their fourth of the game from the resulting set-piece, this time it was Ally MacInnes who exploited some poor marking within the home team’s 6-yard box. MacInnes found space to flick the ball with the under-sole of his right boot into the net to put the game out of sight within two minutes of the restart.
Southend, to their credit, never gave up, but despite the best efforts of Andrew MacIssac and Paul Steele, who laboured hard to claw a way back into the game for their team, they failed to break down the visitors’ defence. MacArthur, again highlighted his credentials as arguably the league’s best goalkeeper with a good block to prevent MacIssac.
While goals were proving hard to come by for the home team, profligacy was not a problem where the Barra attack were concerned. James Davidson, who had scored twice in the first half, completed his hat-trick following some excellent passing play. The move began with a clever one-two between Craig Ferguson and Michael Davidson, Ferguson then broke down the right wing and found James Davidson with a fine cross, and the striker confidently finished from close range, for his third and Barra’s fifth.
With the score now 5-1 in Barra’s favour, the hosts went about desperately tried to reduce the deficit. Again it was MacIssac who looked the most threatening, but his shot was easily dealt with by MacArthur in the end.
Barra, though, were not merely content to ride out the game and you could have been mistaken for thinking that they were the team chasing the game rather than Southend, such was their desire to attack. Craig Ferguson was in irrepressible form as he twice went close to increasing his team’s tally to a cricket score. First he bamboozled the Southend defence was a fine piece of skill, rolling the ball from his left foot to his right, but his effort could only find the side-netting. Then he was unlucky not to score a second, as his close range shot came back off the post, with the home defence in complete disarray.
Ally MacInnes; scorer of Barra’s fourth with a neat flick from a corner
With just 53 minutes gone, Ferguson was running the home team ragged, such was his movement, imagination and skill. A fantastic dummy just inside his own half, left his marker for dead, as the young playmaker let the ball pass through his legs before rounding his opposite number to collect possession once more, his precise curled through-ball found Michael Davidson down the right wing, but his teammate’s attempt also rebounded back off the post.
The good fortunate enjoyed by the Southend defence would soon prove to be temporary as the visitors increased their lead even further. Despite being the standout player on the pitch, Ferguson was given an inordinate amount of room within the Southend box, and had ample time to compose himself to score his second from around the penalty spot. Incredibly, that goal made the score: Southend 1 Barra 6, with half an hour still remaining.
While the damage to the home side’s hopes of gaining any points had well and truly been done, the scoring was not yet over. James Davidson, who by this point had already claimed a hat-trick, turned creator to set-up Craig Ferguson. Davidson went on a fantastic 30-yard run, driving at the Southend rearguard and drawing defenders out of position. The run opened up space for Ferguson, who Davidson found 12 yards out, enabling his teammate to finish, and like Davidson complete his hat-trick to make it 7-1 to Barra after 65 minutes.
Barra’s Cailean MacArthur does well to block an effort by Southend’s Andrew MacIssac
Despite a late flurry of attempts, including a fine effort by Jamie McCall which hit the post from 20 yards out and good save from MacArthur to block MacIssac, Southend were unable to pull another goal back, and the game ended Southend 1 Barra 7. A combination of the sublime by Barra, especially the contributions of Craig Ferguson and James Davidson, to the ridiculous, in terms of some of Southend’s defending, sealed a commanding victory for the visitors.
Southend: For the home team, the result marked another crushing defeat, with seventeen goals conceded in their last two matches. Southend’s need to improve their defensive shortcomings is urgent, if they are to avoid becoming the whipping boys of the league. While the team is full of promising young players and plenty of experienced heads, their frailties at the back have to be addressed to enable those players to fulfil their potential this season.
Barra: Conversely, the visitors look like genuine title contenders and a real threat to Iochdar Saints’ ambitions of retaining the league championship. With a fine goalkeeper in Caliean MacArthur, a solid defence, a good footballing ethos and arguably the league’s most creative talent in Craig Ferguson, they appear to have all the parts in place to challenge for silverware. Their next league game against the reigning champions, Iochdar Saints should give a greater indication of whether they are in fact the real deal this season.
Man-of-the-match: Craig Ferguson, Barra
Craig Ferguson; scored a hat-trick and provided two assists.
The attacker/midfielder’s ability to read the game and roam freely around the pitch renders him a tough opponent to mark for the opposition. Equally adept at assisting his teammates as he is scoring, Ferguson’s pass to set-up James Davidson for Barra’s third goal, was a moment of real quality.
Goals 1, shots on-target 4, shots off-target 2, corners 5, freekicks 4
Yellow cards 0, red cards 0
Goals 7, shots on-target 9, shots off-target 4, corners 2 , freekicks 3
Yellow cards 0, red cards 0
Referee: Harry Luney