Matt Dean reports on a gritty Essex Senior League encounter between two of East London’s mid-table sides.
London Bari came from behind to snatch a point in a 1-1 draw with Wadham Lodge at the Old Spotted Dog stadium. A goal from Andre Mantavani forced an uphill battle for the hosts, though Bari levelled the scores through Adrian Sanchez late in the first half.
After a disappointing defeat on the road one week ago, London Bari were determined to make an improved account of themselves in what was their first home fixture this month. However, the visiting team had the brighter of starts with forward Harry Honesty testing Bari’s goalkeeper Aaron Pedro from distance early on.
The Lodge were rewarded for their efforts, taking the lead in the 34th minute, when midfielder Mantavani’s low driven free kick snuck under Pedro who appeared to have it covered. Minutes later, the visitors had a great opportunity to double their advantage with Honesty causing havoc once more. The attacker, who spent most of the game occupying the left channel in a 4-2-3-1 formation, broke clear of the Bari defence only to see his placed effort denied by the woodwork.
Spurred on by their efforts Bari began to create chances of their own and minutes before half time, they equalised in similar fortunate circumstances. Adrian Sanchez watched his shot take a huge deflection, leaving Lodge keeper Danny Mulrooney no chance as the ball was redirected into the opposite corner of his goal.
After the break, Wadham again looked the more pro-active side as they pushed to regain the lead. Arthur Coelho had the clearest of chances when he found himself unmarked at a corner, though the centre-back blazed his effort wide of the target. Bari’s struggle to deal with set pieces continued but they were allowed a lucky escape once more when Max Holt’s header rebounded off the cross bar.
At the other end, Sanchez was a constant threat for Bari. The goal scorer would have stolen the headlines, after he glided past four Lodge defenders, had his shot to finish off some sublime play not been so tame, allowing Mulrooney to save comfortably.
Nearing the final whistle, Charlie Georgiou looked to have set up Honesty for the match winner but the chance was wasted. Substitute Elliott Green followed up with an opportunity, this time denied by Pedro. Despite great pressure, Bari succeeded in shutting out the Wadham Lodge attacks and the game ended level.
The East London outfit travel to Takeley on Tuesday night in the search of three points.