Performance of the season from Barton
Resolute Barton prove no pushover for Ascot
With manager Ash Stevens out of the country apparently scouting in New York for the weekend, first team duties were left to John Umney and Lewis Fowler for the visit of last seasons champions Ascot. Barton were without a number of key players including Nick Higgs, Jake Freeman, Jack Eley and Nick Jones and during the week wondered whether they would be able to put a side together. However call ups from the youth side for Liam Day, Jonny Sokol and Smoking' Joe Fraser along with Mark Umney meant a full compliment was able to be fielded.
With the pitch looking fantastic after being freshly marked out a few minutes before kick off - it would be interesting to see if Barton could adapt to playing
After much thought, the decision was to go with the same formation that proved so successful against Tower Hill, with 5 at the back hopefully giving the rest of the team a solid platform to go and sneak a goal. Barton knew they would be in for a tough game - Ascot had not lost a league game for over a year and were already looking a formidable team from their results this season.
If Barton needed any reminding what lay in store for them then the first 5 minutes would prove a stark wake up call - Ascot immediately putting Barton on the back foot with their free flowing attacking, but were kept to just long attempts at the Barton goal which didn't cause Danny Phillips and problem at all.
Barton slowly worked themselves into the game and it became very obvious that the midfield would be where the game would be won or loss with Tony Both and Mark Umney doing a great job in pressuring the Ascot midfielders and not giving them any time on the ball leaving Owen Hunt a bit of freedom to be creative in the midfield.
With Ascot continuing to be be kept at bay by the resolute back 3 of Lewis Fowler, Martin and Paul Kay, Barton were able to get a strong hold of the game and start to create chances of their own and after 20 minutes the first clear sight of goal for Barton came when a quality ball from the work house Acock found John Umney at the far post - attempting to head the ball back across the goal, Umney just put too much power on the ball and the resulting header just cleared the cross bar.
Barton were pressing superbly all over the pitch and not giving their opponents a moments rest with Bott and Mark Umney breaking up play superbly and releasing Jack Fowler and Nick Acock wide when they could. Another chance for Barton came shortly and when Owen Hunt released Jack Fowler down the left hand side and the resulting cross found Umney clear just inside the penalty area it looked like Barton would take the lead, and they would of done had it not been for a fantastic save from the Ascot keeper. In a game like this, those type of chances have to be taken and Umney really should have done better.
At the other end of the pitch, Ascot were finding Bartons defence hard to break into than Fort Knox, with Lewis Fowler and Paul Kay tracking the Ascots forwards superbly and Martin Kay mopping up at the back with any balls that were hit over the top of the 2 marking centre backs.
Half time - Middle Barton 0 - 0 Ascot
The second half started with Barton very unfortunate not to be already in front and they started as they left off by putting pressure on the Ascot goal - the early pressure nearly told when John Umney Cruyff turned his marker in the box and crossed the ball for the incoming Mark Umney - Mark, playing his first game since August was a Gnats cock away from connecting with his head - and had he been playing more regularly would certainly have tested the goalkeeper.
Barton continued to press and with Acock and Jack Fowler pushing Ascots defenders further and further back, it seemed only a matter of time before a goal would be scored. After 65 minutes the deadline was finally broken and when Mark Umney broke from midfield and found John Umney on the edge of the box his curled cross found Tony Bott at the far post to stoop low and head past the Ascot goalkeeper. It was no less than Barton deserved and it set up a frantic final 25 minutes.
Ascot inevitably pushed on towards the Barton goal, but with all of Bartons defenders wearing the most unbreakable chastity belts available, there seemed no possible way of breaking through. Ascot's closest effort was a strike that thundered against the Barton crossbar and away to safety after a scramble in the 18 yard box.
With just a few minutes left it looked like Ascot may finally get the equaliser when a ball over the top of the defence found their striker 8 yards out, but as the forward was about to pull the trigger, Paul Kay appeared reminiscent of a David Copperfield illusion to challenge the forward and concede just a corner when a goal looked inevitable.
Full Time - Middle Barton 1 - 0 Ascot
A fantastic performance from the team - they wore a kit resembling Brazil and performed like the sides of the 1970's! Defensively the side has never looked stronger and it after the cup win against Steeple it looks like Barton are past their blip of weeks ago and can now mount a serious challenge for the league title.