Harsh decision cost Rovers dear

This re-arranged midweek fixture, a local derby against newly-promoted near-neighbours Biggleswade FC, afforded Rovers an early opportunity to build on their victory over the league leaders the previous Saturday. The first half proved to be an exciting end to end affair with both sides creating scoring opportunities. An overhead kick from home side striker Scott Joseph after just 3 minutes went narrowly over the visitors’ bar. Rovers Nathan Tshikuna made himself space and got a run in on home keeper Tyler Josephs but his shot was weak and never troubled the score-sheet. Goldy Capela the Rovers striker was next to try his luck from a Garry Jones cross after 9 minutes but headed narrowly over. Tshikuna was in the middle of the action again on 14 minutes when the home keeper did well to push out what looked like a goal-bound effort and three minutes later the same player shot straight at the keeper when it looked easier to score. Back came the home side and both Adam Hunt and Tom Coles had shots at goal respectively over the bar and wide of a post on 24 minutes. Good passing interplay from Rovers created another opening for Capela but his trundler went wide. Rovers keeper Niall Cooper kept the score-sheet blank with a fine diving save from Joe Leslie at the expense of a corner which came to nothing. However, the home side took the lead two minutes later when a defensive error allowed Ryan Inskip a free run in on goal and he duly despatched a good low shot past Cooper. Inskip might have done better than blast over the bar after 34 minutes and Rovers central defender Lewis Thomas shot straight at the home keeper before the whistle sounded for half-time.

Regrettably, the destination of the points was probably decided by the referee when, after just 5 minutes of second-half action, he adjudged a Capela attempt at a tackle as worthy of a red card – it looked harsh but no doubting there was a decision to be made and it went against the Rovers in this instance. Joseph had the next opportunity for Biggleswade but shot way over from a good position. With 55 minutes gone Rovers gave themselves a life-line when Nathan Tshikuna fired an equaliser home from the edge of the box after good work from midfielder Charlie Smith to create the opening. Smith himself might have done better than shoot straight at home keeper Josephs after 58 minutes and winger Connor Furlong sent in a cracking cross that found no attacking takers for Rovers after 63 minutes. That was as good as it got for 10-man Rovers as they were posted missing in defence as Joseph finally found the back of the net to put his side in front on 66 minutes. With 79 minutes the Rovers deficit was doubled when Leslie was left in acres of space and no defenders near him to slot home a third for the home side. Rovers misery was complete when they conceded a penalty-kick with 5 minutes remaining and up stepped substitute Nathan George to put the game out of sight of Rovers. Nathan Tshikuna did pop up in added time to double his and Rovers scoring tally on the night but this was a mere consolation. Biggleswade made the most of the man advantage during the bulk of the second half but it will be a worry for Rovers Manager Tony Fontanelle how team discipline melted in the face of the Capela ordering off.

Final Score: Biggleswade FC 4 ( Inskip 31, Joseph 66, Leslie 79 & George P84) Barton Rovers 2 ( Tshikuna 55 & 90+4)

Rovers Team: Cooper, Palmer, Jones, Smith, Phelan, Thomas, Osobu (Okuboyejo 76), Dummett (Andrews 85), Capela, Tshikuna, Furlong.

Rovers MOM: Charlie Smith

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