Barton Town Old Boys 3 Winterton Rangers 0 - match report
Barton Town were forced to work hard to overcome a well-organised and disciplined Winterton Rangers in a game that came to life in the second half.
With Dave Bramley laid up with flu, Ben White continued in goal for Town, following his impressive performance at Cleethorpes Town in midweek.
Previously ever-present Ash Lattimore also missed out due to prior commitments, with Gareth Owen coming in.
In central midfield, Declan Marshall got the nod over Joe Cooper, who joined the Tom Bennett, who was struggling for fitness, on the bench.
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Rangers, with injured ex-Swan Mark McDonagh running things from the touchline alongside Leigh Herrick, included two former Town under-19s regulars, Lee Markham and Dan Hubbard, in their starting line-up.
On a perfect November afternoon and in front of a healthy and partisan crowd, it was Town, perhaps somewhat inevitably, who made most of the early running.
Gareth Barlow, all-time Barton top scorer and Winterton lad, was heavily involved in the opening exchanges, although he sometimes came a little too deep to seriously trouble Rangers keeper Steve Wibberley, who was well-protected by a back-line set up to defend deep with a view to catching the hosts on the counter-attack.
Although stressing the need for patience, what would Town Manager, Dave Anderson have given for the fillip of an early goal to force Rangers out of their shell?
In the ninth minute, Steve Norton almost delivered when he profited from hesitancy in the Rangers’ defence following Barlow’s head-on, only to poke the ball wide of the far post as Wibberley charged out.
Now, the game settled into a predictable pattern. Barton dominated possession but lacked the cutting edge to find a way past Wibberley.
Indeed, despite Town’s territorial advantage, the best chance of the half fell to the visitors. With the majority of both sets of players camped in the Rangers half, only an excellent block by White denied Daniel Hagan after a quick counter-attack exposed the Town defence.
In an effort to find that elusive spark, Anderson rang the changes at half-time, with Joe Cooper and Bennett coming on for Owen and Marshall.
But despite centre-backs Ash Dexter and Mike Gibson going close following Josh Schofield deliveries, Wibberley remained largely untroubled.
Then, around the hour mark, the game changed in the space of a few short minutes.
Town, pushing on ever-more frantically, were caught short at the back, but Hubbard, at full-stretch, just failed to turn the ball home at the far post.
Three minutes later, Town took the lead when Steve Norton's near-post header from Alex Sherwood’s cross squirmed under Wibberley. It was the break Barton were looking for and seven minutes later Norton made it two, side-footing home unchallenged after Barlow, looking suspiciously offside, unselfishly rolled him in.
It was game up for a visibly wilting Rangers side who had given everything for the cause, and a relieved Town began to enjoy themselves.
Any chance of an unlikely Rangers comeback disappeared in the 82nd minute when Barlow finished superbly, getting on the end of an inviting Schofield cross to fire home on the half-volley.
There was still time for Wibberley to make up for his earlier lapse to deny Norton his hat-trick before Town saw another goal chalked off by a marginal off-side call.
The win and results elsewhere see fifth-placed Town stay in touch with the leading pack.
The Old Boys now turn their attentions to League Cup action on Wednesday night when entertaining Retford United at The Euronics Ground (7.45pm) before making the tough trip to the team immediately above them in the table, Worksop Parramore, next Saturday (kick-off 3pm).
Town: White; Sherwood, Gibson, Dexter, Brunton; Schofield, R.Cooper, Marshall (Bennett); Norton (Branford), Barlow, Owen (J.Cooper).