MK Irish suffered their first defeat of pre-season as a strong Barton Rovers side came away from Manor Fields with a 3-1 victory.
It was a tough afternoon for the home side, in their second test against higher level opposition within a week, and Irish put together some good spells of possession in the early stages before Barton grew into the game and displayed their quality.
In contrast to the midweek victory over Aylesbury United, it was a more balanced start to the game with both sides happy to work the ball around the pitch to try and create an opening.
The first attempt on goal came from the home team and Ty Ward after 15 minutes. Drifting forwards into space on the left-hand side, the MK Irish skipper was found by a George Shrieves pass but couldn’t keep his first-time effort down and on target.
After twenty minutes of solid passages of play for both teams but chances few and far between, the game burst into life with two impressive goals from Barton Rovers’ number 10.
The first came after the forward picked the ball up in space on the right side of the edge of the box, before getting the ball out of his feet and firing a low drive across goal and into the bottom left corner to make it 1-0.
He then grabbed another just after, latching on to a through ball right down the middle of the Irish back line, and converting confidently past the advancing Owusu Kyeremateng and into the top corner making it 2-0.
The game seemed to open up after and with Irish now two goals down they responded well and almost pulled one back straight away.
Some good work on the left flank had stretched the visitors’ defence and drew the Barton keeper off his line, when the ball eventually made its way into the box it took a goal line clearance to stop Mason Davis turning home.
Barton almost made it three with the final chance of the first half, as their forward was denied his hat-trick by the post.
Barton Rovers started the second half as they finished the first and it took a brilliant save from Kyeremateng to keep it at two, as the Irish goalkeeper acrobatically tipped over a fierce drive from distance.
It was three soon after as the visitors scored another good goal, working the ball from right to left before cutting it back to the edge of the box before finishing it into the far corner for 3-0.
Both sides made a number of changes after the third goal with fitness still in mind this early into the pre-season schedule.
Mason Spence was one of the Irish players brought on and had some nice touches before having his sides first effort on goal of the second half, seeing his shot from the edge of the box deflected into the Barton keepers’ arms.
After an impressive performance against Aylesbury in midweek, it was Ryan Smith who managed to pull one back for Irish with a beautiful free kick, whipped over the wall and into the bottom corner to make it 3-1.
Kyeremateng made another great save as the game neared the full-time whistle, coming out well to deny Barton’s number 17 an excellent goal after a powerful solo run.
Andre Olukanmi started to get a lot more success against his man in the second half and became Irish’s primary outlet down the left, consistently getting balls into the box that unfortunately couldn’t be capitalised upon.
Ryan Smith’s late free-kick pulls a goal back for MK Irish