IF SCARBOROUGH Athletic are to realise their ambition of level four football next season, they will need to eradicate performances such as the one in the second half at Barton on Saturday.
While the first 40 minutes were worthy of three points, with Boro having most of the play and numerous opportunities to score before Joe Naylor did find the net, the final 50 minutes lacked the gusto and team-play expected of a top-of-the-league side, and Barton took advantage to register the win.
Boro had started confidently enough, and there was a buzz prior to the game with new signing Afolabi Obafemi from Leyton Orient named in the starting line-up.
The 17-year-old, signed through manager Rudy Funk’s relationship with Orient boss and former Scarborough FC gaffer Russell Slade, took the number 10 shirt from Dean Windass – a former Barton player who had once scored a hat-trick for the Swans.
Windass had started his career in the game in 1990, four years before Obafemi – nicknamed Affy – was born. Windass was seen passing on advice to the youngster prior to kick-off.
Boro lined-up against some familiar faces. Barton’s side included former Boro players Dave Bramley in goal, Mike Gibson in defence, Ant Bowsley in midfield, and Scott Phillips in a role behind striker Gareth Barlow. Richard Medcalf was on the bench.
As well as Obafemi in for Windass, Luke Fletcher replaced Gary Hepples and Tony Hackworth was sidelined through injury. Denny Ingram came in for Hackworth, with Daz Winters in the centre of defence alongside Matt Draper, who took over Hackworth’s captaincy.
For the first 40 minutes Boro attacked in droves. Obafemi was causing problems with his willingness to get on the ball, and was linking well with Ryan Blott. Both had efforts on goal saved.
Bill Law was always available with his pace on the right, Blott picking him out on many occasions to start attacks.
Paddy Miller and Blott stung Bramley’s hands with low efforts, and a shot from Obafemi was deflected onto the post by left-back Chris Garth.
It was only a matter of time before Boro did score, and the opener came on 40 minutes.
A Law cross from the right was recycled by Miller, and after winning the initial header Naylor spun round to volley the opening goal.
Boro now had a deserved lead, and an impetus to press forward.
But that advantage was nullified just three minutes later after a calamitous error by Draper.
He played a blind backpass to Kevin Martin, but Phillips read it, picked up the ball, and rounded the Boro keeper to equalise.
In the second half Boro failed to impact on the game at all, restricted to just a few efforts on goal late in the game.
However by then the damage had been done, when on the hour Barton substitute Tom Lee was given the freedom of Humberside to stroll through the Boro midfield and strike a winner from 20 yards.
With Barton up next on Saturday at Queensgate, Boro will need to revert to their usual attacking guile if they are to push for top spot once again.