High flyers downed by The Rovers
Rovers went to promotion-chasing Didcot Town, who are currently occupying a play-off spot in the league, looking to extend a good run of points gained on their travels. Manager Tony Fontanelle had the luxury of captain Paul Andrews being available, thanks to a successful midweek appeal ,against his sending-off last Saturday. The Rovers squad was also boosted by the return of Lee Close and he went straight into the team at centre-back. Rovers booked the assistance of a stiff breeze at their backs first half but, as is often the way, we saw a lot of of forward moves destroyed by over-hit passes. Nevertheless, despite Town's lofty league position, Rovers were anything but overawed and were quickly into their stride with wingers Jimmy Hartley and Victor Osubu prominent in their early attacks. Drew Phillips should have put Rovers ahead as early as the 20th minute but his shot was straight at Town keeper Leigh Bedwell. On 29 minutes Phillips again provided a lovely floated cross from the left but Charlie Clayton failed to connect and a fine scoring opportunity was wasted. Hartley might have put Rovers in front just before half-time but shot wide from a good position and the teams went in scoreless at half-time.
Now Town had the wind assistance second half and perhaps Rovers were to have a fight on their hands to take anything out of this game. However, the home side huffed and puffed but failed to sustain any real pressure on the Rovers defence and, after 49 minutes it was Hartley once more testing keeper Bedwell with a shot palmed out for a Rovers corner which came to nothing. Town were seeing a bit more possession but were caught flat-footed when a Rovers breakaway on 58 minutes provided Hartley with an opening which he despatched with aplomb to give Rovers the lead. Just 4 minutes later Clayton lobbed just over from a corner and Rovers were looking like scoring every time they secured possession. With 20 minutes remaining Town threw on a rash of subs and caution to the wind in search of an equaliser but, aside from a super touch over the bar from a goal-bound shot by Town's Greg Hackett after 78 minutes the Rovers defence stood firm. Near the end Hartley should have finished the match as a contest when he was set free in the Town half with just the keeper to beat but fired his shot straight at Bedwell who saved comfortably. Rovers held out comfortably to secure three valuable away points and a fine team performance to warm the Rovers supporters hearts.
Rovers are at home this Saturday with high-flying Corby Town the visitors.
Final Score: Didcot Town 0 Barton Rovers 1 (Hartley 58)