Rovers made the long trip to the South Coast for the second time in four days to face Sholing FC in this FA Trophy 2nd Qualifying Round tie postponed last Saturday due to a waterlogged pitch. There was a return to the line-up for Victor Osobu who also wore the captain’s armband in the absence of Garry Jones. The match turned out to be a game of two halves with Sholing taking command of the opening half and Rovers, unfortunately, giving themselves a mountain to climb with a lacklustre display. Early on, there was no sign of things to come when midfielder Nathan Tshikuna’s run and shot in the opening minute might have given Rovers a real springboard of a start but his shot was a disappointing end to a promising situation with Sholing keeper Ryan Gosney saving easily. On 4 minutes Rovers paid dearly for that early miss when some static defending allowed Sholing winger Jake Hoole the easiest of side-foot finishes to give the home side the lead. Rovers sprang back when Osobu’s corner hit the bar and bounced over to safety on 9 minutes. Two minutes later Lewis Thomas was berating himself for heading wide from another corner when it looked easier to score. Tshikuna then had another scoring effort after 11 minutes but shot straight at the home keeper. Immediately, Sholing broke forward and Rovers were opened up at the back but escaped punishment when Sholing right-winger Lee Wort shot over from almost under the Rovers crossbar. Further chances followed for the home team but Stuart Green after 18 minutes and centre-forward Daniel Mason on 27 minutes spurned good scoring opportunities. For Rovers, midfielder Sam Gibson and Osobu had half chances but poor finishing failed to bring the home keeper into action. The decisive moment in this match came after 35 minutes when a brilliant forward run by Sholing full back Marvin McLean presented Wort with a carbon copy opportunity to double the home lead and he made no mistake planting the ball firmly behind Rovers keeper Kyle Forster. Sholing midfielder Stuart Green deserved to have increased the home lead just before half-time when his rocket shot hit the foot of a post and rebounded to safety and Rovers went in two goals down.
Rovers came out for the second half and, without creating a lot in the final third, certainly bossed possession for long spells. Ironically, Sholing came close to increasing their lead when Hoole shot over from a good position on the edge of the Rovers box on 61 minutes. Just two minutes later, Rovers were thrown a lifeline when midfielder Dean Dummett was needlessly upended in the Sholing area and the referee pointed immediately to the spot and up stepped Tshikuna to score and fire Rovers back into the match. Substitute Charlie Smith pulled a save out of the home keeper but the resultant corner came to nothing after 77 minutes. Osubu had a half chance on 82 minutes but, once again, the finish didn’t match the lead-up work. So, despite a lot of effort and certainly the lion’s share of the game second half Rovers failed to nail a second score that would have given the side a replay but, overall, the better team on the night took the spoils and look forward to a home tie in the next round.
Final Score: Sholing FC 2 ( Hoole 4, Wort 35) Barton Rovers 1 (Tshikuna P 65)
Rovers Team: Forster, Jibodu, Olineran, Thomas, Sonuga, Gibson (Smith 62), Osobu, Dummett (Mckenzie-Lowe 77), Vincent, Tshikuna, Lukulay (Sub 45+ 2).
Rovers MOM: Lewis Thomas