Rovers made the journey into Oxfordshire to face Didcot Town in the latest round of League fixtures. Both Victor Osobu and captain Garry Jones remained unavailable for selection meaning Dan Olineran continued at left-back with Ibby Lukulay taking a position on the right wing. The game was played in almost continuous wind and rain on a soft pitch though a surface with no standing water. Rovers played with the wind at their backs first half and, early on, both Reece Weekes and Olineran sent in inviting crosses but there were no Rovers attackers on the end of the action. With 15 minutes gone a Connor Vincent cross looked to find Dean Dummett ghosting in on the blind side of the Didcot defence but he was muscled out of a meaningful connection. With 15 minutes gone Vincent almost fooled Didcot keeper Leigh Bedwell with a neat back-heel effort from a Lukulay cross but the keeper smothered the danger. Rovers, mostly on the attack up to this point, almost conceded on 17 minutes but, after a goalmouth scramble, right-back Jerome Jibodu cleared off the line with Rovers keeper Kyle Forster beaten. Didcot came close to open the scoring after 30 minutes when their right-back Oliver Thomas sent in a pinpoint cross that left winger George Reid just failed to convert sending his effort marginally wide of a post. Just 4 minutes later though the game burst into life when, in the space of just five minutes, a long -range double strike from Rovers midfielder Nathan Tshikuna with both efforts being genuine contenders for goal of the season. Rovers almost made it three just before half-time when Tshikuna’s cross was poked just wide by Vincent. There was still time for Didcot’s Joe Green to head a good chance just wide before the whistle went to signal the interval.
The second half got underway with the Rovers support wondering if a 2-goal cushion was enough given that Didcot would play with the elements in their favour and, initially anyway, Didcot did put their best foot forward. Reid for Didcot should have tested Rovers keeper Forster but fired high and wide after 49 minutes. Thomas then picked up a yellow card for a late tackle on Rovers centre-back Lewis Thomas and perhaps a sign that Rovers were continuing to frustrate the Didcot attacking intent. A flurry of substitutions were made by both sides midway through the half, Didcot’s with further attacking options in mind whilst Rovers tried to maintain the solidity they’d shown all over the park from kick-off. Notably, new signing Charlie Smith entered the fray after 65 minutes, and it wasn’t long before he showed his ability when, after 79 minutes, he found himself on the end of a Tshikuna through ball and he fired a superb shot high and left of Didcot keeper Bedwell to hand Rovers three hard-working away points. A fine save by Forster in added time denied Didcot centre-back Green a consolation goal and the game came to an end with Rovers maintaining a clean sheet.
Rovers make the long trip to Sholing for their latest FA Trophy tie this Saturday in good heart following their recent run of good results let’s hope the positive run of results can continue.
Final Score: Didcot Town 0 Barton Rovers 3 (Tshikuna 34 & 39, Smith 79)
Rovers Team: Forster, Jibodu, Olineran, Thomas, Sonuga, Gibson, Lukulay, Dummett (Williams Jr 83), Vincent (McKenzie-Lowe 70), Tshikuna, Weekes (Smith 65).
Rovers MOM: Nathan Tshikuna