Barton book their place in end of season play-offs

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Barton won the battle of the Rovers on Easter Monday to secure a Southern League Central Division play-off spot with a gutsy 3-2 win.

The game was always going to be tough with both sides chasing a play-off berth.

Barton Rovers v Kempston Rovers. Picture: June Essex. PNL-170418-111656002

Barton Rovers v Kempston Rovers. Picture: June Essex. PNL-170418-111656002

Ex-Kempston forward Danny Watson had the first chance of the game as he raced onto a through ball to go one on one with Carl Knox but a fine block kept him at bay.

The hosts went ahead on ten minutes when a searing run from Howie Hall was curtailed abruptly in the box. Barton’s top scorer Connor Calcutt converted the penalty for a 1-0 lead.

Kempston forced the equaliser midway through the half with a neat Jake Newman finish from close range.

The hosts moved into the lead again on 54 minutes as a square ball found an advancing Jimmy Hartley who slotted home.

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Parity was restored just moments later as Howie Hall was adjudged to have deliberately handled in the area and Ash Fuller sent Tom Coulton the wrong way from the spot.

Barton were in no mood to let their visitors spoil the Easter party and were rewarded with the winner on the hour. A sweetly struck Charlie Smith free kick hit the post and rebounded into the path of Calcutt to head home.

Manager Jimmy Gray said: “I’m overjoyed for all the lads and every one at the club that we could accomplish what we set out to achieve.”

The final league fixture is at Egham on Saturday before the play-off semi on Wednesday, April 26 – likely to be a home tie against any of AFC Dunstable, Marlow, Egham Town and Kempston Rovers.