Rossington Main 1-2 Barton Town
Tuesday 20th July 2021
On a different night this could have been a much greater scoreline such was Barton Town's dominance at certain times - paticularly during the first 45 minutes. On the other hand, Rossington Main could have emerged as fortuitous winners with scorer Niall Doran guilty of missing a gilt-edged opportunity when the game was locked at 1-1 midway through the second period.
It was a strange game in a few ways and following another gloriously sunny day amidst the current summer heatwave, temperatures were almost bearable by the 7.30pm kick-off time.
Rossington were missing a couple of key players - namely Elliott Walker, Bailey Conway and Greg Young, and that factor, coupled with Barton being a well-regarded outfit managed by Nathan Jarman and from the league above, showed in the early exchanges as the visitors immediately got to grips with things and enjoyed plenty of pressure.
Kian Johnson had some nervous early moments as he uncharacteristically dropped an otherwise routine cross into box which occurred just a few minutes after he'd been forced to advance from his line and parry away a speculative long ball which initially looked troublesome as it landed right on the edge of his area.
From that point onwards, he commanded his area with great authority and showing expert handling. It was a good job too given what felt like a constant bombardment of balls into his area from wide areas in both open play and set-piece scenarios.
The visitors dominated territorially, had superior possession and moved the ball relatively well which meant Rozzo's backline had to be fully alert to the threat being posed. What Barton lacked was a cutting edge and some iffy finishing combined with good 'keeping by Johnson, kept Rozzo on even terms when the balance of play suggested they ought to be behind.
The hosts' attacking threat was sporadic with Jack Watson cutting an isolated figure too often whilst Niall Doran and even Cameron Barnett struggled to get into proceedings. The ball didn't stick too well when it was high up the pitch and Rozzo's best first half opening actually fell to Paul Sherburn who just lacked the neccessary accuracy with his rising effort from the edge of the box.
Nevertheless, where Ben Hunter's side more than matched their higher-division opponents was in the tenacity and desire stakes because time and again tackles were required, they were well-timed and it thwarted Barton's attempts to work the ball into more dangerous areas. Jordan Buckham, Jamie Green and Leon Osborne were three players who all produced some important interceptions.
It was 0-0 at the interval though it surprised nobody when the team from near the Humber Bridge went ahead shortly after the re-start. Conner Williamson was unfortunate in that he inadvertently put the ball through his own net, but this was after some excellent footwork and movement on the edge of the area by Harrison Coley. The striker brought the ball down superbly, used his technique to create a way past Buckham and then unleashed a shot which appeared as if it would go past a wrong-footed Johnson and into the net anyway before Williamson's diversion ensured it definitely would.
Barton maintained their application and intensity for a few minutes afterwards but surprisingly, Rossington responded with their first spell of sustained pressure. It culminated in a decent move with Doran delivering a low drive past the visiting 'keeper from approximately 12 yards out.
The scorer then squandered a golden opportunity to complete a quick turnaround when he was left unmarked inside the box and received a pass but with time and space in his favour, the ex-Grantham Town player somehow put his shot wide.
It acted as a wake up call for the NCEL (Premier Division) visitors because thereafter, they slowly wrestled back control and looked the more likely of the two teams to find a late winner - something which eventually came to fruition courtesy of Josh Vickers' strike on 83 minutes. His strength enabled him to hold off a couple of defenders and he sent his subsequent shot past an advancing Johnson who tried his best to make it more difficult but to no avail.
Overall, it wasn't a particularly good home display and if Barton had been more potent in dangerous areas (or able to create some openings from the dozen or more corners they won), their win would have probably felt much more comfortable.
Some positives for Rozzo can still be found because, despite the difficult opponents, they did compete okay and the performance was improved in the second half. It's more minutes into players' leg ahead of the ultimate acid test of all the pre-season work on Saturday 31st July when Ollerton Town head to Oxford Street in the NCEL (Division One) season opener.