Fruitless on the road
A second defeat on the trot for Rovers and they were masters of their own downfall in this one. The match started with Rovers very much on the front foot with scoring opportunities by Sam Gibson, Nathan Tshikuna and a gilt-edged chance when Connor Furlong was clean through on goal, all within the opening 10 minutes, unfortunately were spurned by the visitors. That old cliché about scoring when you are on top well and truly slapped Rovers when, in the 12th minute, following a fine ball over the top of the Rovers defence allowed home midfielder Callum McNish a free run in on goal and he made no mistake in sliding the ball past goalkeeper Joshua Mollison, making his Rovers debut in this match, to put the home side ahead. Rovers should have been on terms just a minute later when Victor Osobu side-footed a Furlong cross over the bar when, once again, it looked easier to score. However, Osobu made amends with 19 minutes gone when his shot cannoned off the underside of the crossbar and in for a Rovers equaliser and, at this stage, no more than Rovers deserved. Mollison prevented the home side taking the lead when Aaron Woodley was put through but his finish was touched past a post for a corner which came to nothing. A Tshikuna free-kick after 25 minutes went mighty close to giving Rovers a lead but just cleared the junction of post and bar. Mollison was in action again saving a Morgan Williams free-kick after 27 minutes. North Leigh centre-forward Henry Landers had a wonderful run and shot just two minutes later but his finish was wastefully high and wide. Mollison came to Rovers rescue again when he finger-tipped a goal-bound Woodley shot for a corner after 30 minutes. On 39 minutes Rovers striker Connor Vincent got clear of the home side defence but couldn’t sort his feet out at the vital moment and home keeper Freddie Lapworth rescued his team with a smothering save. Rovers skipper Garry Jones picked up a yellow card for a late challenge with 40 minutes gone and immediately Osobu put in Furlong for another wonderful opening but the shot was saved by the home keeper. An incredibly open first half ended with the sides level but how Rovers were not ahead would have been a source of concern for the Rovers management team.
Within two minutes of the restart Rovers midfielder came mighty close to firing the visitors ahead when his bullet of a shot from 25 yards out crashed back into play off the North Leigh bar – deserved a goal this one. 54 minutes gone and Rovers scoring malaise continues with another Furlong effort from a good position going wide. Rovers were bossing the game but paid the penalty for not turning pressure into goals when they went behind to a when Adam Learoyd dived to head home from a corner after 58 minutes. Back came Rovers with a Vincent effort on 61 minutes that was cleared for a corner. The corner came over and in, the ensuing melee, it looked as though the ball crossed the line but neither referee nor his assistant thought so and Rovers left to rue another error by the officials. Just to rub salt in the Rovers wounds Norh Leigh substitute George Seacole fired his side into a two-goal lead with 67 minutes gone with Rovers defenders posted missing. Osobu had yet another scoring opportunity for Rovers but his shot lacked the accuracy to trouble the home keeper with 78 minutes gone. In the 80th minuts Tshikuna fired home yet another goal of the season contender to give Rovers a lifeline. From the restart however the entire Rovers side fell asleep and Seacole ran through unopposed to net a clinching fourth goal and his second of the match. There was still time for a late but off target Tshikuna effort and a Mollison save to prevent further embarrassment for Rovers in added time. A disappointing outcome for Rovers whose woeful finishing and lack of defensive discipline in the second half will be causes for concern for manager Tony Fontanelle.
Final Score: North Leigh 4 (McNish 12, Learoyd 57, Seacole 61 & 81) Barton Rovers 2 (Osobu 18, Tshikuna 80)
Rovers Team: Mollison, Jibodu (Griffiths 73), Jones, Smith, Sonuga, Thomas, Osobu, Gibson, Vincent (Okuboyejo 83), Tshikuna, Furlong ( Williams Jr 73).
Rovers MOM: Charlie Smith