Two points dropped, not a point gained

Despite the rain deluge we’ve had, this league derby went ahead on a surface that was well-drained and perfect for football. The home side looked the more threatening in the early stages but, despite the lion’s share of possession, failed to bring Rovers keeper Niall Cooper into action. Rovers midfielder created space for debutant winger Brad Bell after 7 minutes but the Town defence closed ranks and a corner was conceded that came to nought for Rovers. Town midfielder Drew Richardson then found space for a shot but this was blocked to safety at the expense of a corner. 11 minutes gone and Rovers striker Connor Vincent conjured a piledriver from outside the box and was unlucky to see the effort crash off the upright and Bell’s follow-up effort failed to hit the target. Town striker Dan Walker then burst into action only to see his shot trundle well wide of goal. With half an hour gone Rovers centre-back Kai Phelan headed over from a corner when he might have got Town keeper Jamie Greygoose in on the action. Immediately, what looked like a game changing incident as Town winger Matt Sparrow saw red for a late challenge on Rovers midfielder Nathan Tshikuna. Bell was in on goal again with 36 minutes gone but Greygoose foiled him with a finger-tip save. A few minutes later Tshikuna almost fired Rovers ahead but his lob dropped over the Town bar. An evenly contested first half came to the end with the sides deadlocked.

If the away fans expectations meant that Rovers would dominate the second half with the man advantage this never materialised. The entire Town side worked their socks off and it could be argued played the better possession football in contrast to Rovers who lacked real penetration and failed to capitalise on their superior numbers. Town striker Craig Mackail-Smith brought a fine save out of Cooper after 51 minutes a stark reminder that danger lurked for Rovers with the Town forays into their half. Rovers were largely reduced to long-range efforts and Bell, Victor Osobu and Dean Dummett all had efforts that failed to trouble Greygoose. Then, just when it looked certain the match would remain goal-less, on 84 minutes, a clever Jerome Jibodu pass created space in the Town box for Rovers winger Osobu to find the target with a low shot to the keeper’s left. So it looked for all the world as if Rovers had the three points in the bag but never-say-die Town had other ideas and in added time their skipper Ross Watson crashed home an equaliser from a misdirected headed clearance by a Rovers defender. Perhaps the draw was a fair reflection of the match and Town’s ten men certainly put in a shift but Rovers will rue their failure to secure all three points in this match.

Final Score: Bedford Town 1 (Watson 45+1) Barton Rovers 1 (Ososbu 84)

Rovers Team: Cooper, Jibodu, Ward, Smith, Phelan, Thomas, Osobu (Powell 89), Dummett, Vincent (Burnett 64), Tshikuna, Bell (Regis 64).

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