It was local derby time at a sweltering Sharpenhoe Road this afternoon between Barton Rovers and Arlesey Town in the Evo-Stik Southern League East Division. The hosts had lost in the play-off final to Farnborough in 2016/17 and had started this season with two wins and a defeat in their league fixtures as well as an FA Cup upset to United Counties League Premier Division side Deeping Rangers.
Arlesey had lost all three of their league games played against Marlow, Ashford Town (Middx) and Northwood - they had got a good win against Desborough Town in the FA Cup and are due to face Bostik North side Heybridge Swifts on Saturday in the First Qualifying Round.
Rovers had had a change in management in the summer with Mark Boyce (a UEFA B licenced coach) stepping up from being assistant to James Gray who had moved on to a coaching roll at Vanarama South side Wealdstone working with Gordon Bartlett, Scott McGleish, Steve Newing and Mickey Johnson - He had since left The Stones following the change in management and the coaching staff at Grosvenor Vale.
They included the following players in their team - 18 year old goalkeeper Lewis Todd who is a product of the youth set at Queens Park Rangers, Salam Amoako who is only 20 and has stepped up to this level of football after playing for MK Gallacticos, Winslow United and Buckingham Town. Jordon Odofin (23 years old) who came through the ranks at Barnet before playing in Sweden for Osterlen FF and then for Dunstable Town. Josh Oyinsan (22) who is another player who started with The Bees before playing for Dunstable Town, Bromley and Billericay Town. Nathan Olukanmi (a 23 year old winger) who started his career with Aston Villa before playing for Wycombe Wanderers, Leighton Town, Worcester City and Leamington. Another former Aston Villa youth player in Ebby Nelson-Addy who made four football league appearances for Hartlepool United in 2015/16. Their Captain was Claudio Diaz who started at a professional with MK Dons and Northampton Town and has also played for Braintree Town and Dunstable Town.
Town are currently jointly managed by Zema and Nathan Abbey who between them have a vast amount of experience with football league sides during their playing career. Their goalkeeper, Bart Pedrycz, is one of my favourites - he is a real character and always very vocal when I have seen him play. They also included defender Joe Steele who was voted as young player of the year - he started his career with MK Dons. They also included Kim Forsythe who was brought up and still lives in Arlesey - He was playing against one of his former clubs.
The game was an entertaining one with both sides playing some good passing football but not much goal mouth action during the first half. The home side took the lead when Pedrycz slipped when he was receiving a back pass which agonisingly for him saw the ball roll into his own net. The home side looked the more threatening putting in more crosses into the box and having more possession of the ball with the half time score being 1-0.
The second half saw Arlesey equalise on 59 minutes when Kim Forsythe scored which would of pleased him being against his former side.
Again Rovers look the more dangerous in the attacking third of of the pitch hitting the cross bar from a header and having a number of chances/half-chances to take all three points. Below is the header against the cross bar and a terrific run by Claudio Dias which ended in his shot going just wide of Pedrycz's goal.
In summary I think this will be looked at as two points dropped by the home side and one point gained by the away side who will be happy to get a point on the board following their three defeats in the opening games.
For me the worst point of the afternoon was the low crowd of only 94 people to see what was a local derby game. Traditionally the two rivals have not been one of the more well supported local non-league sides - It would be good to see a few more people at their games.
Whenever the two teams play, be it competitive or a friendly, they always compete for 'The John Milton Plate' which is named in memory of John Milton who was Chairman of both clubs during his lifetime. The plate will be shared until the return fixture on Boxing Day.
* As always with The Cold End please fell free to use and share the pictures as long as a credit is given. #ForTheLoveOfTheGame. Please follow me on twitter @thecoldend