Preseason friendly @ Sharpenhoe Rd
A welcome return to footballing action at Sharpenhoe Road with the visit of National League South St Albans City as Rovers continued their preparation for the new season. Understandably, both sides had maximum squad numbers and substitutions were unlimited. Rovers have retained the core of last season’s players so already possessed a level of continuity from a side that was challenging the play-off spots before Covid 19 laid waste to the remnants of the 2019-20 season.
Rovers were first to show real attacking intent when centre-back Lewis Thomas pushed forward and played a one-two with Dylan Gittings before winning a corner which was comfortably cleared by the visitors. However, it took Rovers only a matter of seven minutes to take an early lead when a low right-wing cross from Keanu Williams was inadvertently diverted into his own net by away defender Micheal Clark. City were looking slightly more polished in possession with central midfielder David Noble very involved but Rovers were battling hard and denying the visitors any clear-cut scoring opportunities. City had a couple of long-range efforts before some slick link-up play got striker Chid Onakwai in on goal but his shot was weak and home keeper Niall Cooper smothered the danger. With 19 minutes gone, City regained parity when striker Shaun Jeffers fired home a beauty from a great cross by his right-back Devante Stanley. Rovers created a couple of half chances but striker Jermaine Hall and midfielder Martell Powell failed to get their efforts on target before Gittings fired in a superb low cross from the left which had no Rovers taking advantage and the sides went in level at half-time.
On 51 minutes home keeper Cooper created a scare when he missed a catch from a City corner but Powell was alert and cleared the danger. A minute later City defender James Kaloczi got on the end of another corner but headed just over. With 54 minutes gone striker Hall had a half chance but didn’t get the connection he wanted on a shot and City keeper Declan Jackson wasn’t troubled. Midway through the second half Rovers rang the changes with a series of substitutions in an effort to spread the game time through the available squad. Temporarily at least, the personnel changes unsettled the Rovers rhythm and City substitute Mitchell Weiss applied a clinical finish to a right -wing cross to fire the visitors in front with 71 minutes played. With 82 minutes gone, City ensured themselves a win when Zane Banton fired home at the second attempt after Cooper had pulled off magnificent block from his initial effort at goal. Charlie Black’s 85th minute effort was fired straight at the City keeper and the visitors remained resolute in defence to run out winners.
A good display from the Rovers squad against a side two levels higher in the pyramid which augurs well for the upcoming league and cup campaigns.
Final Score: Barton Rovers 1 (Clark OG 7) St Albans City 3 (Jeffers 19, Weiss 71 & Banton 82)
Rovers Team: Cooper, Palmer (Jibodu 70), T.Ward, Phelan (Andrews 74), Thomas (Jones 70),Smith (Black 83), Powell (S.Ward 83), Williams (Oladejo 74), Dummett, Hall, Gittings (Brown 83).