Northallerton Police 6 Barton FC 2

NORTHALLERTON Police roared to the top of Division One as three late goals finally saw off the determined challenge of Barton FC at Newby Wiske last Sunday.

Police arrived with one of only two 100 per cent records in the league and they welcomed back Chris Walker after injury, while Richard Schofield and Simon Pickney replaced the absent James Rose and Chris Pattison.

Inconsistent Barton were without both first-choice forwards, so Danny Shoulder was partnered by young James Collins as they were forced to reshuffle their pack.

Despite the changes, it was Barton who started well and with Shoulder looking lively up front, the home defence had one or two shaky moments before they finally settled into the match.

Ben Darville should have given the Police an eighthminute lead after a great leftwing cross from Nathan Hemingbrough, but he placed his header too close to Barton keeper Tony Miller, while Johnny Coombs also went close six minutes later.

However, it was Barton who made the breakthrough in the 24th minute and inevitably it was Shoulder who got it. Mike Layfield whipped in a dangerous ball from the right and the Barton captain drilled the ball past Police keeper Danny Yates from the edge of the area.

With their perfect record now under serious threat, the Police responded in the manner of potential champions and they were very nearly back on terms just three minutes later. Hemingbrough set off on a mazy run that took him past several challenges and only the fingertips of Miller prevented him scoring a marvellous solo goal.

But the hosts were level in the 38th minute. Rob Fraser whipped the ball in from the right and Hemingbrough was brought down in the area by Miller as he was about to shoot, leaving referee Geoff Chapman no alternative other then to award the hosts a penalty. Miller redeemed himself with a fine save from Johnny Coombs’ spot kick but Darville was quickly on the scene to knock home the rebound and make it 1-1.

The Police were in the ascendency and they went ahead just two minutes later. Schofield sent Walker clear down the left and he cut inside before sweeping the ball past Miller from the edge of the area.

Barton struck back to draw level just before the break. With the Police defence appealing in vain for offside, Callum Woodcock was able to cross for Carl Tate to head past Yates from close range.

With Layfield and Jimmy Muir now controlling the midfield, Barton looked the more likely winners but the Police dug deep and broke out to regain the lead midway through the second half. Fraser sent in dangerous ball from the right and Dan Cardie was on hand to smash it past Miller from eight yards.

The visitors could have been forgiven for thinking it was not going to be their day but, to their credit, they responded well and Yates was forced into action to deny both Collins and Muir, while Shoulder and Adam Gilroy also went close to bringing Barton level again. But their brave challenge finally ended in the closing stages.

Darville headed home a corner from Coombs five minutes from time to finally seal the points and that led to an unexpected late collapse from Barton.

A minute later Darville returned the compliment for Coombs as he rounded Miller before squaring for his teammate to tap home, before substitute Alex Caisley then turned home a free kick from Coombs in the last minute to give the scoreline a somewhat flattering look.