SHAUN Askham, Andrew Gibbins and Dale Rayner netted for TL Darby as they beat a battling Barton United 3-0 in their Burton & District Sunday League Division One encounter at Scropton Road.
Down to the bare bones with just 10 men, the visitors conceded on 15 minutes and fought bravely until the final minutes when they let in a couple more.
On a heavy pitch, United keeper Andy Moore was soon in action with a comfortable save from Ben Ormond.
Then a dangerous cross from Ormond was spilled by Moore before the loose ball was booted clear.
United replied, with Martin Uncles hitting Tom Graves, who sent a fierce shot inches over the angle of the woodwork.
Nathan Anderson-Dixon then sent a long-range effort just wide.
But the hosts were soon back in control with Tom Berry-Hopkins releasing Dale Rayner down the left and when his low cross came in, Askham smashed the ball into the roof of the net.
It was nearly two moments later when Askham picked out Gibbins, who crashed the ball against the underside of the bar, with the rebound booted clear by Greg Smith.
Gibbins then saw his close-range effort beaten out, with Ross O’Donnell’s follow-up cleared off the line. Appeals for a penalty for handball did not convince referee Keith Perry.
On 25 minutes, Berry-Hopkins set up Ormond, who dragged his shot wide.
Next, a Zac Lovelock free kick hit Gibbins’ knee and landed straight into the arms of a grateful Moore.
The unrelenting pressure continued, with Berry-Hopkins and Robert Dolby sending Rayner clear but Anderson-Dixon got back to make a crucial sliding tackle.
Next, Askham hit Gibbins, with the striker’s clever flick giving Dolby a great chance, but the midfielder hit a post.
Slowly, United weathered the storm, with Uncles releasing Walker, who overhit his final cross and a possible chance was lost.
Then Graves forced a decent save out of Edward Barlow before the midfielder pulled a fair chance wide.
On the restart, United almost pressed the self-destruct button when Andy Chambers dwelt on the ball and was dispossessed by Gibbins and Rayner. The latter broke clear and a goal looked inevitable but Rayner, in trying to set up Gibbins, overhit his pass and a gilt-edged chance was lost.
Gibbins then headed over from a pinpoint Berry-Hopkins cross.
Then it was Richard Naylor’s turn to head over as the hosts pressed.
Berry-Hopkins was increasingly prominent as TL Darby went all-out for a second goal and his low cross to Rayner deserved better, but the striker’s legs got all tangled up and another chance went begging.
Claims for a penalty after Smith scythed down Gibbins were saved away by Mr Perry, who awarded a free kick just outside the box.
United kept going but gradually the 10 men tired as the hosts brought on two substitutes.
Walker, the lone striker, gave everything.
First, he sent a speculative shot just wide before keeping Barlow’s hands warm with a fair strike.
The indefatigable Uncles in midfield wokred tirelessly and forced a decent save out of Barlow as United pushed for an equaliser.
The hosts slowly turned the screw with Rayner and Naylor combining to give Berry-Hopkins a chance, but the winger hit the woodwork.
On 82 minutes, the pressure told. Berry-Hopkins whipped in another dangerous corner and the beanpole striker Gibbins got up well to send a glancing header past Moore.
Four minutes later, Dolby fed Berry-Hopkins and when the winger’s low cross caused chaos in the box, Rayner pounced to force the ball over the line.
In injury time, Kevin McFarlane released Rayner down the right and when the striker’s cross came in, Askham’s shot beat Moore but Dave Dawson typified a fighting performance from Barton by sliding in to clear the ball off the line.
GOALS: Askham 15, Gibbins 82, Rayner 86 (TL Darby)
TL DARBY: Barlow, Lindsay (McFarlane 69), O’Donnell, Naylor, Lovelock, Dolby, Gibbins, Rayner, Askham, Ormond (Cooper 60), Berry-Hopkins.
BARTON UTD S&S: Moore, Chambers, Millington, Smith, Dawson, Graves, Anderson-Dixon, Uncles, Counter, Walker.
STAR MAN: Greg Smith (Barton) – gutsy display at the back by veteran kept his side in it.
REFEREE: K Perry (Burton).