Huge 3 points for high flying Barton
Revenge tastes so sweet
Barton welcomed Tower Hill to Worton Road for their second meeting in 3 weeks and Barton were keen to put right the wrongs of defeat to Tower 3 weeks previously.
Barton were able to field a strong side, even without Martin Kay's unavailability to due husband duties - im sure the game wasnt far from Martins mind while he was sipping on his beer wherever he was......
Manager Stevens decided to make slight changes to the formation, with a back 5 being played for the first time this season in order to combat the pace that Tower possess down the wings, which had proved so difficult to play against in the previous meeting. Nick Acock was brought in for his first start of the season after his self imposed unavailability due to there being no guarantees of a starting place in the side...and he slotted into the back line in place of Martin Kay.
Jake Freeman was given one job and one job only, and that was to follow around Tower Hills play maker in the centre of midfield and ensure that he wasnt able to dictate play like he was able to 3 weeks previously. And for the first time this season, Stevens was able to partner last seasons dynamic duo, Jack Eley and John Umney in attack with Barnes dropping to the bench. A substitutes bench of Barnes, Haynes and George Wood, making his first appearance of the season, demonstrating the strength in depth available to Stevens now after 2 full transfer windows at the club.
The game started in a tense manner, neither side wanted to lose this game and early showings were that Barton's formation would frustrate the young Tower side, with their wide players not enjoying the space they were able to in their previous meeting. Chances were of a premium in the early stages with neither side making anything clear cut, and the defences being on top.
Arguably though, against the run of play Tower Hill made the breakthrough, some neat passing in and around the Barton 18 yard box meant the ball fell to the Tower striker who had just enough time to shift the ball onto his right foot and curl an effort low and hard just out of the reach of the despairing Danny Phillips.
Barton could of felt hard done by, but they picked themselves up and were immediately rewarded for their hard work. A delightful ball from captain Lewis Fowler released Jack Eley one on one with the Tower keeper. Barton players are now getting very used to seeing this scenario and it was no surprise to anyone when Eley tucked the ball underneath the goalkeeper to make scores even.
Barton were buoyed by this and their pressure was again rewarded when a poo pass from the Tower Hill defender put Eley one on one again with the goalkeeper - this time however, Eley squared the ball to the onrushing Umney who had the simple task of passing the ball into an open net.
Nobody was surprised that Umney took the goal so well - apart from birthday boy Jack Fowler, celebrating his 21st birthday on Saturday, and Umney would be lying if he didnt think of Jack and his inevitable comments had he missed the chance.
Half time - Middle Barton 2 - 1 Tower Hill
Barton were pumped up and fully deserving of their lead and set about making the scoreline more comfortable in the second half, however Tower were also keen to get back on level terms and apart from a number of long range efforts that were held comfortably by Danny Phillips, they posed little threat.
Barton however did, and when Jack Eley cut inside onto his left foot just outside the box, the cries of 'hit it' were heard in Duns Tew! Eley unleashed a thunderbolt of a strike that hit the underside of the bar and bounced to safety. Unfortunately Barton do not have Hawk Eye technology installed yet so we will never know if the ball was over the line or not, but it was close!
If there was ever an argument for Barton to install Hawk Eye, then another effort a few minutes later would make a strong point with Nick Higgs volleying a strike again against the cross bar and again seeing it bounce to safety. There was uproar on the Middle Barton bench with the management team sure it had crossed the line. I have a feeling Hawk Eye technology will be brought up in the next AGM Meeting to ensure that instances like this do not happen again. A thought goes out to Nick Higgs though, who would of capped a very impressive performance of with a superb goal. Higgs is still waiting for his first Barton goal, but all is not lost for the newcomer, as delivery of his new tent, sponsored by Paul Kay hair salon was received at the end of last week, so its been a good week for Higgs.
After 65 minutes Tower started to make some substitutions, with one of them being the play maker that Jake Freeman had followed around like a love sick teenager for the whole game. In the bar after the game locals were comparing Jake's performance to some of the man marking styles of the Italian great from the late 80's and early 90's. I wouldnt like to comment.
Barton had one final chance to give themselves a 2 goal lead when man of the match Jack Eley clipped a beautiful cross to the back post to find 'hot streak' Paul Kay at the back post. Only 5 games into the season, and Paul has found himself play in 4 different positions in the side and it looked like he would score his 5th goal of the season. Apparently he leapt like a salmon and was able to firmly head the ball on target. However the Tower goalkeeper was able to make a reflex save and tip the ball over the crossbar.
A thoroughly impressive performance from Barton which puts them 2nd in the table and tactical decisions made by Stevens coming right out of the school of Mourinho - who would of been proud of his protege.
Full time - Middle Barton 2 - 1 Tower Hill