Barnton 1-2 Cheadle Town

Terrible conditions; not-so-terrible result.

One that puts us four points clear at the top at the start of a testing month. The cynics will be quick to point out that the teams below us have games in-hand and we can be easily caught but that's slightly missing the point. A statement was made at Townfield on Saturday: catch us you may, but we're not going to go away that easily.

Two-nil is a horrible scoreline: you're just one mad moment away from home-and-dry to nail-biting and potentially something worse, almost ably demonstrated in this match during the final minutes.

With 89 minutes gone Colin Quirk rifled in a free-kick from distance to reduce arrears with Barnton then cracking the crossbar just moments later. Had the howling wind that had inconvenienced everybody - both watching and playing - all day decided to get hold of that long range effort and somehow divert it past Tom Elford then it would have undone all of the good work that we had put in beforehand.

The opening half-hour of the match saw a bright start from us but only one real decent effort to speak of when Anthony Trucca's effort was tipped over the bar after just four minutes. Both sides were adjusting to the conditions, not least the keepers who were seeing their clearances and goal-kicks barely make the halfway line thanks to the gusts.

As the half-hour mark passed, we started to turn the screw.

Darryhl Mason almost got himself on to the end of a raking pass from Chris Sherrington with the Barnton keeper managing to block a flurry of goalbound shots moments later: Mason with the initial effort when through on goal with all subsequent rebounds and whathaveyou expertly beaten away.

Liam Tongue then fizzed a shot inches wide of the post shortly afterwards with both sides rescued from the wind for half-time with the game goalless.

The status quo only lasted three minutes after the restart.

Barnton saw an effort deflected over the bar before we then went up the other end and broke the deadlock thanks to Darryhl Mason ploughing through on the right of the area before shifting the ball square for Liam Tongue to collect and stab home.

More industry from the right of the area saw us extend the lead five minutes later, James Horan the beneficiary this time, keeping his head to slot home from inside the area.

We then had plenty of chances later on to wrap the game up.

On 71 minutes Darryhl Mason seized on a moment of poor control and bore down on goal, only to see his effort blocked by the keeper.

Three minutes later James Horan seemed to be set to put Chris Sherrington in on the left when in a good position but he opted to go it alone thus allowing the Barnton defence to clear the danger.

Luke Hincks was then in on the right of the area but dragged his shot just wide on 78 minutes with Liam Tongue firing in from the edge of the box but seeing the keeper make a save just a minute later.

Thankfully the footballing Gods decided not to punish our profligacy on this occasion, allowing for wild celebrations from all the playing and coaching staff at the final whistle.

Onwards we Staffordshire next weekend and an opportunity to make another statement at Hanley Town.

TEAM: Elford, McLaughlin, Pearson, Trucca, Young, Dunn, Hincks, Tongue, Mason (Whyatt), Horan (Magida), Sherrington. SUBS: Whyatt, Magida, Kennedy, Nolan.