MGBSFL DIVISION TWO
TEMPLE FORTUNE vs BORUSSIA BARNET
There’s a huge game in store at SJP on Sunday, as Temple Fortune lock horns with Borussia Barnet in a promotion six-pointer.
Fortune go into the game two points ahead of Borussia, who have two games in hand, so the emphasis will be on Simon Linden’s men to push hard for the win.
There’s a fair chance Linden has been watching re-runs of Liverpool’s Champions League defeat against Atletico earlier this week. Like Liverpool, Borussia are the fancied team, but Linden will be looking at ways of stifling passages of play. That said, his players are too honest to copy any anti-football tactics (diving and time-wasting), and I expect them to go toe to toe with their rivals who are gunning for the title.
With promotion the objective, every game at this stage of the season is huge for Fortune. The meeting with Borussia is the start of three immense fixtures which will make or break Fortune's season. After that comes the Division Two Cup semi-final against FC Team, followed by meeting the same opposition at SJP seven days later.
Linden has been itching to carry on the good run but disruptive storms have put paid to his sound planning over the past fortnight.
He has the utmost respect for Sunday's visitors, but you can bet his team will give it a good go. "Barnet are very good, the best team we have played this season, and that includes Oakwood," Linden told JC Sport.
"We are missing a few boys but the spirit within the group is second to none and this is the start of three big weeks, where I need character and game-management."
Borussia crushed Fortune 5-1 earlier in the season, and although a repeat performance looks unlikely, they have a 100 per cent record on their travels in the league this season – a record they will be proud to maintain.
Brad Papier is looking forward to unleashing his players on Fortune for a second time. He told JC Sport: "Finally, we might actually get a game Sunday with no storms scheduled and the game being on 3G. After so many cancellations and postponements the boys can’t wait to get back out there.
"In terms of Temple Fortune, we’ve played them once and won 5-1 comfortably. However, in other games they’ve done really well and it’s a promotion rival despite the result last time out, we know how big Sunday is."
Papier went on to say: "A win Sunday will put us one point in front with two games in hand on third place, meaning it’s a big step towards promotion which we view as a minimum given the quality we’ve got.
"We don’t want to under-estimate Fortune, even though we won last time, we had Jack Mattey and Nathan Rosenthal playing who can’t play this Sunday, and we know the quality those two have can demolish a team between just them.
"Still, we’re going out to win Sunday, we’ve got a great squad without Nathan and jack and believe we’re more than capable of getting the job done. They have more experience and are a very physical side so we plan to keep the ball on the floor and use our beautiful football and skill to win the game. We don’t want to turn it scrappy as that suits them more than us."
Papier knows that on their day, Borussia have few equals in the division. He added: "I expect my boys to take a big step towards promotion Sunday with a win in our first game since mid-Jan.
"Ollie Smith and Ethan Gold will see their return to the pitch, Ethan not playing since the first game of the season and Ollie not playing since December. We can’t wait for Sunday!"
Borussia have walked the walk and talked the talk this season. The million dollar question is, does Simon Linden have a special game-plan to thwart them on Sunday. Only time will tell ...
JC team news: Fortune boss Linden expressed "frustration" to be missing wingers Si Cohen, Benji Gourgey and Grant Bates at the back, but they are "working hard to try and bring back a Fortune favourite that will delight!"
Borussia "would like to wish Jack Mattey a speedy recovery as he’s ruled out for three months with a back injury". Apart from that they have a fully fit squad and no other injuries to note.
Venue – Silver Jubilee Park, KO – 9.45am
JC star man: Ollie Smith (Borussia)
DC Prediction: Fortune 1 Borussia 3