Swans Beaten By The Bulls
Barton travelled to the Forest Park Stadium to take on league leaders AFC Mansfield in a fixture that finished 2-1 to the home side.
A chilly afternoon in Mansfield was the setting for two teams on polar opposites of the NCEL Premier Division. High flying AFC Mansfield were at the top of the NCEL Premier Division going into the fixture, full of confidence on a win streak of 4 games. Barton were looking at the fixture with a quiet confidence following 3 wins from their last 5 fixtures, along with some strong performances against top 6 opposition. A free punt at points as it was, knowing that The Bulls would be expected to win this fixture, Barton went into the fixture with no fear. An attendance of 85 turned up to watch the match, as the teams came out onto the pitch to shake hands. Barton were in their signature Blue kit, Mansfield in their signature Red kit. The referee blew the whistle after a minutes' silence and the game began.
Barton were quick to show Mansfield they're in a game. Battling well against the Bulls, they had a good chance to get themselves a point if they could keep the home team at bay. They had to endure some early pressure in the 8th minute, with some good crosses coming in from the Bulls, with a huge chance that saw the ball nearly go in over the goal line past the keeper - but was cleared off the line to safety by Josh Baker for Barton. Barton were playing quite deep to catch the home side on the counter. With some new faces in the side and on the subs bench, there was extra effort to chase every ball down on show. Barton pressured hard and were getting a few chances - in the 18th minute a counter-attack saw Swans Striker Barlow play a ball in behind for Callum Terrell - only for the keeper to just reach it before he could get his toe to it. Barton were showing signs of danger, and the game plan was working. Debutant Left Winger Ben Flowerdew was finding success up his wing as he got himself into some good positions. In the 26th minute, much against the run of play, Barton's Barlow was using his strength well up near the corner flag on the right side for the visitors. Attacking and holding off the defender, he cut about inside and played a cross in that met the chest of Terrell. Terrell brought the ball down well near the penalty spot and played the ball backwards to Flowerdew who obliged in taking a shot from just inside the box - which deflected slightly and ended up nestling in the back of the net. A great start for the youngster at the club - he ran straight back to celebrate with his new teammates. It was getting difficult for the Mansfield players to find the net, as they hustled on for an equaliser. Scunthorpe United loanee Sam Riches on work experience at the Barton side saw himself make a reaction save to stop a 1-on-1 in the 33rd minute, followed by an even better save at he saved a rebound that appeared through a few players, tipping it past the top right of his net just over. Riches has been in a good vein of form recently, playing well in a Barton shirt. The 35th minute brought an injury to Nick Guest which saw the Bulls Striker stretchered off, but not in as bad way as previously thought. The match played on, and the home side continued their quest for a goal back. It was only 10 minutes later however, and they couldn't get this. The Half Time whistle was blown and Barton went in at 1-0. A good half for the visitors, they defended well, with a notable performance, Fraser Papprill was proving what a great signing he has been from Bridlington. The side had to come back out with the same attitude as the Second Half.
The Second Half began with a notably hungry Bulls side that had a fire behind them for a goal. Mansfield were looking good for a goal in the first 15 minutes of the Half, as they pressed high and kept Barton in their half of the pitch. It took another goal line clearance from Baker to deny an equaliser for Mansfield, as the chances were coming thick and fast. Their hard work did pay off in the end, but unfortunately for a Man Of The Match contender - Fraser Papprill. A free kick came in from the right attacking side for Mansfield, it fell at an awkward angle just over the defence and Papprill met it as he was jumping backwards, heading it completely past the keeper into the corner of the net. Something out of nothing in the 66th for the home side, it really seemed to knock the wind out of Barton. It was downhill for Barton from there - 10 minutes later another goal came in the form of a counter attack from the Bulls. A ball in the 71st minute over the top found Philip Buxton, who held the ball up for Cameron Dear – who skipped round the last defender and calmly slotted home to give Mansfield the lead. Barton were struggling to keep the ball under the intense pressure from the home side, and they were struggling also to make chance. the minutes ticked on and it came to the final minutes of the match which saw a great cross played into the box by Luke Salas for Barton - which met a Barton head and went agonisingly over. Shortly after, the final whistle was blown to the relief of the Bulls, who did deserve something out the game, but a similar feeling for Barton was felt around the ground. A great defensive display for Barton was unfortunately undone by a few individual errors. They nearly got a point out of a fixture they were expected to, so they were unlucky in this instance.