Down and out of senior cup

Debutant goalkeeper Michael McCormack aside, Rovers Manager Tony Fontanelle chose to field a full-strength side to face Potton United in this Bedfordshire Senior Cup quarter-final tie on a wet and windy December evening. The fact that the home side are playing at one level down from Rovers from the outset seemed irrelevant as United, with a strong wind at their back first half, totally outplayed the visitors for the first half hour. Wayward finishing to some good inter-passing and lead-up work meant shots from Jordan Goodman, Rafe Goodman, Tashriq Andrews, and Sam Dowridge sailed mostly high and wide failing to trouble McCormack the Rovers keeper. This all changed on the 29 minute mark when Dowridge was given the freedom of Barton to waltz through the Rovers defence and open the scoring with a fine low shot that nestled in the corner of the net. Up to this point, Rovers had made little in the way of inroads into the United half but, with their first meaningful attack in the 34th minute, Nathan Tshikuna got on the end of a Connor Furlong cross to equalise for the away side. This success seemed to fire Rovers into all-out action and, just two minutes later and completely against the run of play, Tony Williams Jr put Rovers in front with a clever finish when he touched home a Victor Osobu right-wing cross. United hit back immediately and were very unfortunate not to be on level terms when another low shot from Dowridge smashed against a post and rebounded to safety. Furlong had a decent opportunity to increase the Rovers lead on 42 minutes but his weak finish straight at home keeper Sam Irish was easily held. The teams went in at half-time with United wondering how on earth they were down at half-time.

Dan Olineran replaced Lewis Thomas in the only half-time Rovers change but Olineran himself was replaced, by Sam Gibson, just ten minutes later with what looked like a pulled muscle. The home side continued to be the better footballing side and Rovers, looking ragged and lacking in cohesion, looked vulnerable in defence. It wasn’t long before justice was done when, with 57 minutes gone, United right-back Jordan Goodman got on the end of a left-wing cross to fire home and draw the sides level, with the Rovers marking and defending looking decidedly suspect. Back came Rovers though and it was Williams Jr at the double when he tapped home the rebound when Irish parried a Tshikuna shot in the 62nd minutes to give Rovers the lead. Furlong had a golden chance, after 65 minutes, to increase the Rovers lead but failed to find the target. This was quickly followed by an equally inviting Dowridge chance that went wide when it seemed easier for him to find a United goal. Scoring opportunities fell to United’s George Brinkman and Dequane Wilson-Braithwaite within 2 minutes but both were squandered. However, with the home side bossing the game, it seemed inevitable that goals would come and, from a United free-kick on 69 minutes, more woeful defending from Rovers presented Wilson-Braithwaite with a gilt-edged chance which he finished with aplomb to level the score at 3-3. It was all United with Rovers, as they did for the bulk of this match, unable to string a couple of passes together, and justice was finally done on the night when United right-back Jordan Goodman popped up once more to fire United into the lead on 83 minutes which they deservedly held on to until the referee called a halt to proceedings. A night Rovers will want to quickly forget and major concerns in the camp with 12 goals shipped in three consecutive defeats.

Final Score: Potton United 4 (Dowridge 29, Goodman 57 & 83 , Wilson-Braithwaite 69) Barton Rovers 3 (Tshikuna 34, Williams Jr 36 & 62)

Rovers Team: McCormack, Griffiths, Jones, Thomas (Olineran 46 replaced by Gibson 56), Sonuga, Smith, Osobu, Dummett, Williams Jr, Tshikuna (Okuboyejo 85), Furlong.

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