2 points dropped again for the Blues
Late heartache ruins the day for Barton
After 3 weeks without a game, Barton could not have hoped for better potential opponents than bottom of the table Chipping Norton Town Reserves in order to get 3 points on the board as the beginning of the run in to the end of the season started.
Barton only had a few missing with Jake Freeman having the 'sniffles' and longer term absentees Lewis Fowler and Jack Eley notably away - so were confident that a win would be on the cards.
It certainly looked that way early on with the pressure firmly being put on the Chipping Norton Town defence with an early attempt from John Umney from 40 yards just shaving the top of the goalkeepers crossbar.
Barton were dominant, and were starting to create a number of chances. Liam Barnes latched onto a pass from strike partner Umney and fired an unstoppable strike past the Chippy goalkeeper, however the linesmans flag was raised (in what would be an all too familiar sight) and have the goal disallowed. Soon after, the returning George Wood broke through the midfield and exchanged a 1-2 with Umney but saw his attempt saved by the feet of the Chippy goalkeeper.
Barton were not to kept down for long though and when Jack Fowler was released down the left hand side by Tony Bott, he cut in and went past 2 Chippy defenders before firing low and under the keeper - Jack was proving to be a real handful for the Chippy defence with his fast and direct running. Since he put his flowing ginger locks into a ponytail, he has become a new player!
Most now felt it would be a matter of time before Barton scored the second goal, but somebody forgot to tell the opposition and when Paul Kay was caught under a long ball from the defence, the Chippy striker was able to run on goal with the freedom of Enstone to finish well into the bottom corner.
This seemed to wake Barton up though and again they started to build pressure and when a cross from Nick Higgs (still without a goal this season) was handled by the Chippy defence it led to the inevitable penalty being given. Having missed his last penalty in the game against Brize Norton, John Umney was eager put this right and this time deciding to place the ball in the opposite side of the net, drove the ball comfortably past the Chippy keeper to put Barton back in front.
Half Time - Chipping Norton Town 1 - 2 Middle Barton
Barton came out for the second half knowing that the job was nowhere near done and that a couple of goal would be needed to finish off their stubborn opponents. Barton were again the more dominant of the 2 sides, always looking to break and create chances when they could get forward.
However, it took until the later part of the second half until Barton could increase their lead and when Nick Higgs broke down the left had side and cut back the ball to the onrushing Nick Acock it looked like it would be a simple finish for the right winger, however an incredible finger tip save from the keeper meant that a corner was the end result. From the corner though, Barton extended the lead and after a great deliver from the impressive Higgs was headed back across goal by Tony Bott, Liam Barnes was given the simple job of nodding Barton into a 3-1 lead. This should have been game over.
Barton nearly made it 4-1 moments later when Umney broke through the Chippy defence and was fouled 25 yards from goal. The striker picked himself up and took the resulting free kick seeing it just curl wide of the Chippy goal post.
Instead, Chippy got a goal back and when their tricky winger was able to bring the ball from just inside his half to the edge of the box without a challenge he finished well into the top corner, leaving Phillips no chance in the Barton goal.
At 3-2, it was now inevitable that Chippy would push forward and look for the equaliser, but Barton just needed to concentrate and make sure that no easy chances were given. Then, in the dying moments of the game a free kick on the half way line was controversially given for a high kick when moment before the same office had gone unpunished.
The free kick was pumped high into the box and found Martin Kay - obviously keen to ensure that nobody beat him to a header - stretching and could only divert the ball past Phillips into the top corner. It was a sickening blow for Barton who at 3-1 were in control and seemingly cruising to 3 points and the changing room afterwards felt like a loss rather than a draw.
Full Time - Chipping Norton Town Res 3 - 3 Middle Barton
Barton will have to pick themselves up quickly from this as this Saturday they entertain Chippy again in the home fixture. Attitudes have to be right and revenge must be taken if they are to have any realistic chances of being promoted for the second season running.