Nostell Miners Welfare 1 Barton Town Old Boys 1
Barton Town Old Boys FC had to be content with a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw at Nostell Miners Welfare but only had themselves to blame.
Their habit of failing to turn territorial advantage into goals came back to haunt them, along with a great first half performance in particular from Nostell keeper Gavin Ansley who kept them at bay as Town went for the jugular after Gareth Barlow’s early opener, WRITES PETE MITCHELL.
Town manager Dave Anderson made just the one change from the side which went down 2-0 in midweek at Thackley in the League Cup. Peter Crook got the nod over Ben White in goal and White joined the returning Craig Suddaby, Ryan Cooper and Phil Winn on the bench.
On a perfect day for football but on a pitch that got increasingly difficult as the game wore on, an eager Town, looking for their first win since early February, were quickly out of the blocks. Having gone close on a couple of early occasions, it was no surprise when Town went in front in the 11th minute. With the Nostell defence pre-occupied with the presence of Town skipper, Ash Dexter, the second of two superbly-delivered Declan Marshall corners found the head of Dexter’s defensive partner, Gareth BARLOW, who netted bravely despite the looming distraction of Ansley’s far-post.
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It was just the fillip Town were looking for and the Swans continued to press for a second, crucial goal. Ash Lattimore, playing in the hole behind Simon Spencer who was, in turn, flanked by two supporting wide-men in Gareth Owen and Adam Crane, showed a great touch and turn after receiving from Alex Sherwood before unhesitatingly trying his luck from some 25 yards out, the ball flashing past the post with Ansley struggling to get across.
Spencer and Crane then combined down the left flank, the latter’s near-post ball being met on the full by Owen only for Ansley’s superb reaction save to turn the goal-bound effort away for another corner.
And it was the Spencer / Crane combination again bringing out the best in Ansley five minute before the break, Crane’s pace taking him clear inside the area, but with Danny Brunton up in support, Crane elected to go for goal but a mix of luck, legs and back-side were enough for Ansley to thwart the attempt.
In an indication of Barton’s first half superiority, it was 43 minutes on the watch before Nostell had an effort on target, Crook comfortably gathering Danny Critchlow’s effort from outside the box.
But Barton were going to regret not making the most of that superiority, even though the second half began in identical fashion to the first, Lattimore’s cute flick releasing Crane to fire dangerously across the six yard box but with no Town player gambling to get on the end of it, another chance went begging.
Tim Taylor’s burst into the box then took him clear. Showing good awareness, Taylor, who, along with Marshall had run the midfield in the first half, picked out the lurking Lattimore on the edge of the area to fire narrowly over.
Nostell finally responded, Eddie Walmsley winning the ball before curling inches wide of Crook’s far post. That was too close for comfort and it signalled the first and only spell of pressure on the Town goal before Barton resumed their search for the all-important second goal, Dexter firing just over, from distance, after Lattimore’s free-kick had been charged down.
With Suddaby on for Spencer, it allowed Barlow to move back up top in an attempt to kill the game off, but still that goal wouldn’t come, despite the Swans’ all-time top marksman twice going close before Sherwood fired over the angle after good work by Owen.
With the game looking increasingly-likely to be decided by Barlow’s early strike, the fragility of single goal leads, no matter how comfortable they may seem, was laid starkly bear in the 75th minute, the unmarked substitute Marcus Walmsley flinging himself to head home beyond Crook. It was Nostell’s second attempt on target and even their biggest fan would have been hard-pushed to claim it was deserved, but it levelled things, all the same.
There was still time for Town to go close on a further number of occasions, principally through Barlow and in added-on time, Lattimore, following an incisive run by Crane. By now the hosts were down to 10 men, Critchlow having received his marching orders in the dying seconds, but it mattered little as Town were left to rue not capitalising on their undoubted superiority for vast swathes of a largely one-sided affair. That’s football for you.
Disappointing though the final scoreline unarguably was, the Old Boys players and management can take some solace from the number of chances carved out.
But Town need to rediscover that ruthlessness in front of goal otherwise the season threatens to wither away in disappointment.
And Tuesday night’s trip to leaders, Scarborough Athletic, where chances promise to be a lot less plentiful, would be as good a place as any to start.
That’s followed by the visit of Heanor Town to The Euronics Ground on Saturday for what has all the hallmarks of being an entertaining affair (kick off 3pm).
Barton Town OB: Crook; Sherwood, Barlow, Dexter, Brunton; Owen, Taylor, Marshall, Crane; Lattimore; Spencer (Suddaby). Subs not used, R.Cooper, Winn, White.