Playing against high-flying New York Albanians. St. Barnabas emerged this goalfest on the wrong side of a 5-3 scoreline at Evander Childs High School. With notable absentees in Ian Hennessy, Anto McKeon, Paul Edwards and Sean Neales, it was clear from the outset that St. Barnabas would have a tough time handling the in-form Albanian side, who had two former Barnabas players Tony Camaj and Paul Nikac in their team.
Barnabas, with 14 points, find themselves in sixth place in the 10-team league.
"They outplayed us," the Saints’ Aidan Dennis confessed. "It’s a big setback for our championship campaign."
Albanians opened the scoring after 25 minutes when Tony Camaj saw his well-struck free kick hit Fran Morgan and deflect agonizingly past Barnabas keeper Jim Keady. Five minutes before the half Albanians again hit paydirt as a breakaway attack caught the Barnabas defense napping and a neat chip over Keady put Albanians 2-0 up at the break.
As the rain continued to fall in torrents the game seemed over as a contest in the 51st minute when Albanians displayed clinical finishing to dispatch their third goal without reply. With little to lose, Barnabas went on an all out attack from this point on, Andrew Hendrie pulled one back for the Saints on 62 minutes, and just 10 minutes later the ever industrious George Gjokai gave Barnabas renewed hope when he made it 3-2 following a great through ball from Ben Hickey.
Goalkeeper Keady pulled off some fine saves throughout the game but was helpless to stop Camaj giving Albanians their fourth in the 75th minute. David Fitzgerald struck for the Saints 11 minutes from time when he linked well with Jimmy Forde.
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Meanwhile, the St. Barnabas reserve team entered their encounter against N.Y. Albanians with high hopes, with seven wins from eight league starts this season. The reserves have high hopes of winning the league, but the resulting 2-2 tie against a weak Albanian outfit will do no favors for Barnabas. Kenny Kavanagh got the opener on 19 minutes following relentless Barnabas pressure and it seemed certain that it was only time before Barnabas would put the game beyond doubt. But with finishing, that bordered on atrocious, St. Barnabas gave Abanians the confidence to score twice either side of a Mick O’Donohue goal, and despite several one on ones with the Albanian goalkeeper Barnabas’ frontline squandered every opportunity. Best for St. Barnabas were Sean Kenny, Chris Cassidy and Paddy Murphy.