Barton Town made the short trip over the Humber Bridge to a bright Bridlington. With the sound of the fair in the background and the sun the sky the game was set. Both teams have looked strong this season, and Barton have been highly tipped to be at the upper end of the table by the end of the season. Even the riskiest of gambler would not have put money down on a 5-1 victory for either team.
With the start of the first half the Barton fans were audible even over the booming sounds of the fair. Their voices couldn’t, unfortunately, stop their team conceding in the opening minutes of the game. A bit of a blunder in defence saw Joe McFadyen’s curling corner find its way into the back of the net, without making contact with any players.
Town dominated much of the first half, but Barton weren’t taking this early setback too hard, producing a string of chances, putting Town keeper Tom Jackson to the test. Their pressure was nearly rewarded, if it weren’t for an in-form Fraser Papprill showing why he’s one of the first to be picked in Brett Agnew’s lineup each week.
Nathan Modest was unlucky to not be rewarded for his usual high-tempo gameplay, but ex-Town player Nicky McNamara was well aware of the threat he posed and cancelled him out nicely.
With the game quietening down and Norfolk on the ball a tackle came in from Will Waudby. Unfortunately for Waudby, and indeed for Norfolk’s legs, his foot was much too high off the ground, and after much discussion with his assistant, referee Neil Howlett showed Waudby the red card, piling on the pressure for Barton.
Jake Day would have to wait much later into the game to get onto the scoresheet, but toward the middle of the first half he found himself placing the ball into the back of the net, only for the linesman to adjudge him as being offside.
Town’s captain Andy Norfolk doubled his team’s lead in the 39th minute with a superbly struck goal from 25 yards out. Finding himself in space he walked the ball 10 yards forward, lining up his shot and producing a fine goal from a difficult position.
It took only 4 minutes for Town to put a third past Barton. Tom Waudby received a slightly nudge and went to ground from a tackle by Norfolk. The referee played on and Norfolk stole the ball from underneath him. His pass was met in the box by Chris Adams who managed to score past a frustrated looking Tom Collins.
With the referee bringing the first half to a close the prospect of points looked out of sight to Barton. However the team that came out from the dressing room after half time was still full of grit and determination. Much credit has to be given to David Ricardo for not letting his team’s heads drop, even being so far behind and a player down.
Unfortunately for Town’s Mike Thompson he has been finding himself in the referee’s book more than he’s been finding the back of the net. After a long period of Barton pressure and possession they managed to find space in the Town box. Thompson was judged to have pulled back the Barton player as he lined up his shot in the box, and the referee was given no choice but to point to the penalty spot.
Tom Waudby couldn’t do anything better from the spot, but for the second time in as many games Jackson managed to pull of a save from the spot. The ball was struck strongly, but Jackson positioned himself perfectly, dived the right way, and even managed to get the ball to curl way over the bar and out for a corner. The penalty was definitely the turning point of the game, as Barton looked like they were going to find a way to nick a point back from Town.
Barton did, however, manage to get a goal on the 55th minute, after some confusion inside the box gave Luke Aldrich room to turn a simple cross into the back of the Town net.
In a confusing decision by the referee he decided to let play continue even after Town captain Norfolk quite clearly injured his head. Going up for a typical header Norfolk landed flat on his back, hitting his head hard on the pitch from the initial impact. The referee continued play for several minutes with Norfolk laying injured on the ground. Thankfully there was no serious injury, and Norfolk continued for the duration of the game.
Town continued to dominate the remainder of the second half, but managed to restore their three-goal advantage on the 86th minute thanks to a headed goal from debutant Alex Bannister. A high cross was looking to be going straight out the other side of the pitch, but Jack Bulless managed to head the ball back across the face of the goal, catching many Barton players by surprise. His returned header was met right by the far post by Bannister, who headed Town to 4-1.
With the clock ticking down and Town slowing the pace of the game Town won a corner. It must be assumed that the Barton defence were expecting Jake Day to wind the clock down in the corner. They certainly weren’t expecting him to run with the ball along the touchline and past several players and the keeper, before cooly easing the ball into the back of the net, giving Town a victory that was very much deserved.
It would not be fair to say Barton didn’t play well in front of the 234 attendance at the Hudgell Solicitors Stadium. The difference in this game was the clinical finishing by Brid, and a standout performance by their keeper Tom Jackson. It’s not often you can see a team winning 5-1 and their keeper being the man of the match, but his performance pushed his team on for an impressive win, which sees them up to 6th in the table.
Town will be at home against Hemsworth on the 27th, 3pm. A win could see Town leapfrog Hemsworth into 4th.