Barton Town Old Boys FC 2 Thackley 2
Showing commitment that was for large parts unfathomably absent in the derby defeat at Winterton Rangers, Barton Town Old Boys twice came from a goal down to share the spoils with an equally-committed Thackley, courtesy of a Simon Spencer brace.
With Ben White unavailable, Peter Crook resumed between the sticks for a Barton side with a considerable amount to prove.
Gareth Owen returned to the starting line-up in place of Steve Norton who dropped to the bench alongside Declan Marshall, Phil Winn, the returning Tom Bennett and Ray Ford, transferred back to the club following a short spell at Scarborough Athletic.
With talisman, Gareth Barlow unavailable, Simon Spencer led the attack, Ash Lattimore playing in the hole behind him.
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On a decent playing surface given the latest wintry weather, both sides went for it from the off but after Town had forced a couple of early corners in quick succession, it was the visitors who began to gain the upper hand, Mark Bett lobbing well wide of the onrushing Crook, the overlapping Matt Morgan blazing over and Jordan Missin, looking several yards offside, denied by a superb Crook parry, low to his right.
But Crook could do very little when Missin opened the scoring in the 18th minute, his speculative shot from well outside the box, sailing into the top corner.
That signalled the start of a sustained spell of Thackley pressure, at the height of which Chris Davey brought out the best in Crook, leaping high to turn a goal-bound drive from the edge of the area, over the bar.
Having emerged unscathed, Town began to get back into the game, culminating in a 30th minute equaliser. It began with Adam Crane, turning well before releasing the supporting Ryan Cooper to make tracks down the left flank.
With Cooper’s ball into the box slightly behind him, he still had a lot to do, but despite falling backwards, SPENCER was still able to power his header in off a combination of the woodwork and the flailing Thackley keeper, Mark Bower.
Parity was very short-lived, however. You are always most vulnerable just after you’ve scored goes the saying, and, one minute later, so it proved, Bett ‘s great first touch giving him ample time and space to finish well, low and hard into the bottom corner. It was a harsh lesson for Barton before going in at half-time to regroup.
And regroup Town most certainly did. If the first half was undeniably Thackley’s then the second was definitely Barton’s and it was no surprise when the Old Boys levelled again in the 53rd minute. Lattimore, easing into his new central role, was the instigator, beating his man before superbly releasing SPENCER to finish with some aplomb.
With the game getting increasingly feisty, the turnaround was almost completed just four minutes later.
After Cooper had been unceremoniously upended on the edge of the area following good work by Alex Sherwood, Lattimore’s drilled free-kick, low and hard, flew through the Thackley wall only to be well-gathered by Bower as Spencer looked to pounce.
Owen then saw his near-post effort turned round the post following good work by Danny Brunton, Crane and Lattimore as both sides went in search of a winner.
With Town now on top and the Swans’ backline increasingly untroubled a rare Craig Suddaby mistake almost let in Missin, a well-struck effort going too close to the top corner for Crook’s comfort before Barton Town Old Boys FC resumed the offensive, substitute Ford firing weakly at Bower following an Ash Dexter knock-down, before time was called on a very competitive and entertaining encounter.
Barton Town OB: Crook; Sherwood, Suddaby, Dexter, Brunton; Owen (Ford), Taylor, R.Cooper, Crane (Bennett); Lattimore; Spencer (Norton). Subs not used, Marshall and Winn.
A share of the spoils was probably a fair reflection of the 90 minutes on Saturday, the point gained being enough to keep Town in sixth position in the Premier Division table, but they will be well aware of the increasingly heavy breathing of the six clubs immediately below them, all within spitting distance of Barton and all with games in hand.
Town have a chance next Saturday to further cement the targeted top six finish when hosting Long Eaton United (kick-off 3pm).
But before then, local rivals Bottesford Town make the short trip to The Euronics Ground on Wednesday night for a Lincs. F.A. Senior Trophy semi-final clash (kick-off 7.45pm). As Barton are only too well aware, last season’s winners, Holbeach United await the winners.