10 Man Swans Hold On To Success
Barton welcomed Staveley Miners Welfare to the Easy Buy Stadium for an NCEL Premier Division fixture that finished 1-0 to Barton.
A cold evening in Barton at the Easy Buy Stadium was the setting for a vital clash between two teams in the NCEL Premier Division. Staveley Miners Welfare have been slipping slowly closer to Barton as The Swans have escaped the relegation zone, now sitting in 18th going into this fixture - just above Barton by a position. Barton however, are on the rapid rebound after a difficult start to their season, with 2 Wins in their last 4 fixtures, hoping for a 3rd Win in 5 from this match. The Swans were coming back home very confident they could get a result, as they begin their first of 4 home fixtures all against teams in the bottom half of the table around Barton, beginning with Staveley. An attendance of 78 turned up to watch the teams as they shook hands and took their positions on the field, Barton in their signature Sky Blue kit and the visitors in their Orange kit.
Barton set up as an attacking 4-3-3, as 16 year-old Scunthorpe United loanee Sam Riches started in goal for Barton, with Ethan Nelson at Right Back, returning Gareth Barlow and Fraser Papprill in the middle of the defence, with also-returning Mike Thompson in Left Back. A flat 3 in midfield consisted of brothers Tom Waudby and Will Waudby either side of Ash Lattimore in the heart of the midfield. A set of 3 attackers saw Jamie Richardson starting on the Left Wing, Callum Terrell in the center of the attack and Matty Steeper on the Right Wing.
The game began and from the first whistle it was a scrappy affair for possession, both teams battling hard. The first 25 minutes of the match saw little action - Staveley arguably had the better chances but shots were over or collected by Sam Riches in the Barton net easily. The 30th minute saw a strange repeat of Barton's last fixture however, as a clever through-ball on the counter attack to Adam Baskerville put him 1-on-1 with Barton's keeper - only for Matty Steeper to bring him down in a last ditch effort to prevent a solid chance for the visitors. This earnt him a Red Card in the process, and a sigh of disappointment surrounded the stadium as Barton fans were expecting to see the floodgates open. This prompted a quick change in formation with an early injury for Ethan Nelson. Barton set up as a 4-4-1 with Terrell upfront himself, knowing it would be a tough battle from that point on. Pressure began on the home side, who were still competing well in the fixture, but there was a noticeable drop in positioning every time Barton lost possession. As the half started to come to an end, it was looking like a half lacking any real quality from both sides. The last kick of the half did see an very unexpected moment, with Barton getting their best chance on goal. This, they capitalised on. Callum Terrell had the ball passed to him just as he stepped into the opposition box, where a tackle came in and the ball bounced between Terrell and the defender - settling perfectly for the Swans striker. He struck it, and taking a small deflection it blindsided the keeper as he dived the wrong way, to the delight of the Barton fans. As the ball rolled in, the Swans players celebrated and returned to their positions, and as the game began again from the kick off, the Half Time whistle was signalled. A half where neither side had really took hold of the game, Barton knew going into the Second Half in the lead would make their next 45 minutes even harder than the first.
The Second Half was exactly what it was billed up to be, exciting straight from the off. In the 50th minute, a 1-on-1 save was pulled off by Riches, tipping the ball around the net for a corner to the visiting side. A very shaky moment came from Barton in the 58th minute, who by this point were pinned in their own half, saw a ball in behind that the keeper called for as he sprinted off his line - intercepted and tackled away from the keeper by Gareth Barlow on his own team. As it rolled agonisingly wide for the visitors, Barton breathed a sigh of relief. Merely 2 minutes later in the 60th minute, Jamie Richardson (who'd been filling in at Right Back in place of injured Ethan Nelson) managed to clear a ball off the line that was chipped over the keeper from a 1-on-1. The Staveley fans were brought back down from ecstasy thinking they'd scored, by Richardson who was performing very well in the fixture. As the minutes ticked on, Barton were getting closer and closer to the 3 points they desperately needed. Cross after cross was being played into the Barton 18 yard box - but the defence was handling these well - Centre Back Fraser Papprill notably being the most efficient at heading the balls straight back out. The final 10 minutes nearly saw Barton get another goal as Luke Salas was brought back into the side and substituted on in place of Callum Terrell in the 60th minute. Salas broke through from the halfway line, but as he approached the box he was caught up and tackled by a Staveley defender. As the final minutes ticked down, Barton were taking advantage of a bit more possession as Staveley got desperate for a goal, and ran the clock down where possible. The final whistle blew for Barton, much to the pleasure of everyone down supporting The Swans, the management staff and the players themselves. A huge 3 points in a fixture where Barton would have been happy with a draw after going a man down, it was a fantastic defensive display that carried them through, with a little luck to go with it. Staveley performed well and exploited the large amounts of pressure they put on Barton, but it was one of those nights where the ball just wouldn't go into the back of the net for them. Barton have a good base to build on from here-on-out, as they have another 3 teams to play who are in and around them on the table.