Woodwork cost Rovers

Rovers, on a good run of form, made the long trip to the South coast to face Brighton-based Whitehawk FC in the FA Trophy. A crowd of 400 were treated to an end-to-end cup tie that could and should have yielded many more goals than were reflected in the final score. Rovers were very unfortunate to go in at half-time two goals down especially when you consider that centre-back Lewis Thomas rattled a header off the underside of the bar before team-mate Niall Cooper made a fine save from the home side’s Ronald Sobowale. Whitehawk’s Lucas Rodrigues was next to threaten a goal when his header smacked off the bar. But it was Whitehawk who opened the scoring after 12 minutes when captain Henry Muggeridge was on the end of a Sobowale pass to fire his side ahead. Rovers midfielder Dean Dummett was then denied a clear run in on goal by a last-ditch Marvin Hamilton tackle. Then a golden opportunity for a Rovers equaliser when Nathan Tshikuna’s shot crashed off a post to fall at the feet of the onrushing Bradley Bell who failed to get his effort on target with the goal gaping. Rovers full-back Jerome Jibodu then came close but, once more, the woodwork came to Whitehawk’s rescue as his cross-cum-shot hit the far post and rebounded to safety. Rovers rued their bad luck with 30 minutes gone when the double act of Rodrigues and Sobowale combined to see Rodrigues slot a second score for the home side. There was still time for Cooper to deny Rodrigues with a fine save and for Bell to have a chance that the home keeper did well to smother before the half-time whistle blew.

Bell was immediately in the second half action but a great save by Broadbent denied Rovers a goal. Immediately, Thomas was on the end of two Rovers scoring opportunities but failed in both instances to get a decisive finish. Rovers were on top and creating chances and finally clawed their way into this match with 25 minutes remaining when Dummett poked home from a Thomas flick – no more than the Rovers deserved from their efforts. Rovers defender Kai Phelan almost forced a penalty shoot-out but the home keeper was equal to his goal-bound effort and kept his side in front. It was all-out Rovers attack and striker Connor Vincent might have done better than crash his shot across goal although his effort only narrowly cleared the far post. Rovers attacking intent was leaving space at the back and, at the end of a Whitehawk break-out, Cooper then kept Rovers in the match with a smothering save at the feet of Sobowale. Rodrigues and Sobowale had further scoring chances before, deep into added time, Bell’s and Rovers last effort at goal sailed well over the bar and the whistle came for full-time. A cracker of a cup-tie where Rovers gave as good as they got and, at the very least were unfortunate not to force a draw and resultant penalty shoot-out. Its back to league action this Saturday with the visit of promotion favourites Corby Town to Sharpenhoe Road.

Final Score: Whitehawk FC 2 ( Muggeridge 12, Rodrigues 30) Barton Rovers 1 (Dummett 65)

Barton Rovers Team: Cooper, Jibodu, Ward, Smith (c) (Powell 83’), Phelan, Thomas, Dummett (Regis 73’), Osobu (Burnett 69’), Bell, Tshikuna, Vincent Not used: Palmer, Andrews

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