‘Snatching a draw from the jaws of victory’
Newly-appointed Tony Fontanelle’s first game in charge of Barton Rovers – a challenging away match at Marlow.
There was a new look to the Rovers line-up with Jordan Odofin returning to central defence after injury to partner captain Paul Andrews, George Quarrington-Carter reverting to a holding midfield role, the return of Claudio Dias in midfield and Jet Esso up front from the start.
On a beautiful Autumnal afternoon down by the banks of the Thames, it was Marlow who were first to show when ex-Dunstable Town forward Kelvin Bossman shot just over the bar after 4 minutes. Rovers worked their way into the game and a Charlie Payne free-kick in the 12th minute lacked the accuracy to pick out a team-mate. Jack Keating as next to have a go after 22minutes but his effort was deflected for a Rovers corner which Marlow keeper Garnes plucked out of the air unchallenged. Two goal-scoring opportunities came and went in the 32nd and 33rd minutes when Payne and Danny Watson had shots respectively saved by Marlow keeper Garnes and wide of the goal. An evenly-contested first half drew to a close with Adam Harpur in the Rovers goal having one of his quieter afternoons and the teams went in at 0-0 half-time.
Rovers stared the second half on top but still lacking that final punch in the last third and with 56 minutes gone Alex Cathline came off the bench to make his debut for Rovers with Jet Esso making way. Immediately, Cathline’s physical presence and skill on the ball gave Rovers frontline a more direct look and a target for the midfielders to hit. Rovers remained the more likely team to score and, in the 66th minute Charlie Payne, having a much more effective game for Rovers, cut in from the left and rifled home a glorious opening goal which was no more than Rovers deserved. Rovers then went further ahead in the 70th minute when Cathline’s physicality forced Marlow centre-back Bailey into a desperate last-ditch tackle which resulted in a spectacular OG 0-2 Rovers. With 10 minutes remaining this game looked sewn up for Rovers but somehow, from a position of playing most of this match on the front foot and looking the better side, Rovers contrived to gift a goal to Marlow when Gerardo Smalldone sold his keeper Harpur short with a header and English took full advantage to claw Marlow back into the contest 1-2. The goal gave Marlow a huge lift and Rovers were being forced back and it looked as though could cling on until, in the 86th minute a floated left wing cross by Mealing of Marlow eluded defenders and attackers alike and somehow ended up in the Rovers net 2-2. This was the last real action of the match so an away point gained by Rovers but a story of what might have been. Nevertheless, in team performance terms, this game marked an overall step up on recent performances by Rovers with all 13 players fielded appearing to have a job to do and executing well for the most part.