Barton United were forced to ring the changes for their trip to Leamington Hibernian, but will have been disappointed to return without a point after a brave effort.
The starting eleven featured Featherstone, Stewart, Uncles and the debutant Mole and on a dry uneven surface it took both sides time to settle into the game with possession regularly changing hands in the midfield.
Speculative efforts didn’t draw saves from either keeper but as Stack and Featherstone began to win the battle in midfield, Barton started to dominate possession and territory.
After a clever through ball from Jackson, Martin was released behind the Leamington defence but unfortunately pulled his shot wide for the best Barton chance of the opening half an hour.
Similar opportunities for Hunt, Stewart and Martin continued to be pulled wide of the post and it looked like the game was going to struggle for a goal at all.
A cheap free kick given away by the visitors nearly resulted in a goal for the home side as a quickly taken effort was destined for the top corner until Welch managed to scamper across his goal to tip the ball over the bar.
The second half began in a similar vein to the first with ball changing hands regularly in the midfield. Barton began to dominate again early on and the best chance so far fell to Stewart who saw his shot well saved by the advancing Hibs goalkeeper.
The visitors were pushing to break the deadlock, but found themselves open to the counter attack – and they fell behind against the run of play when a cross-cum-shot from the left back found its way over Welch’s head into the net.
An instant change to a 4-4-2 formation saw Barton continue to press for an equaliser but with tiring legs in the final third, quality opportunities were hard to come by.
A tactical change saw the weary Stewart replaced by Johnson, with Mole moving from left back out to the right wing. The switch seemed inspired as within minutes Mole drove a low cross into the area which was expertly put into the bottom corner by Martin.
With the game in the final 10 minutes both teams searched for a winner and although Barton looked likely, it was Leamington who found the crucial goal on a counter attack. With the Hibs winger rushing into the box Welch produced a fine save but was unable to hold the ball and the rebound fell to the waiting striker who slotted home.
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