Rovers slip to opening day loss against Fleet

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Southern League Division One Central: Barton Rovers 1 Fleet Town 2

Barton Rovers slipped to a narrow opening day defeat in Saturday’s opening league game of the season they went down at home to Fleet Town.

After a close season of rebuilding, new manager Jimmy Gray started just two of last year’s squad in what has been a complete transformation of the playing staff.

Rovers made a nervous start though and found themselves 1-0 down after only 16 minutes as Fleets Daniel Williamson waltzed through a sleeping defence to fire home past Aaron Fulton.

The game was then controlled by the visitors as Rovers failed to find any rhythm going forward, until Elliot Bailey’s shot on the half hour was saved by visiting keeper Dease Kerrison.

Barton got off to just as bad a start to the second half though as Fleet doubled their lead on 49 minutes when an offside-looking James Scott raced through to slot past the stranded Fulton.

However, that led to the response required as Elliot Bailey raced through and was felled in the box by keeper Kerrison, the referee pointing to the spot.

Bailey dusted himself down to convert from 12 yards and halve the deficit, as Rovers moved up a gear, producing some fine passing football, although this was countered by even better defending from the Hampshire side.

The hosts should have levelled things up late on as a Jason Blackett bullet header was wonderfully tipped over the bar by Kerrison.

Boss Gray said: “On reflection,I thought we were good for at least a draw as there were some encouraging signs, with the lads looking to gel as quickly as possible.

“The balance of the side is still not quite right but that will come as we learn more and more about each other.

“The games come thick and fast at this level and we get another chance to put things right on Tuesday.”

Barton travel to Potters Bar Town tomorrow night.

Rovers: Fulton, Close, Corran, Reynolds, Andrews (C), Kayode, Adcock, Wynter, Bailey, Orlando-Young, Smith.

Subs: Blackett, O’Brien, Keating, Hartley, Simpson.

Attendance: 116.