By Eddie Willis

Three first half goals from Ruben Jerome, Paul Walker and Alex Metcalfe ensured Emley AFC continue their title charge.

The Pewits beat Barton Town 3-1 on Saturday to remain six points clear at the top, with two games in hand over second-placed Campion.

Emley were due to go to Campion on Wednesday February 28 but that has had to be re-arranged to Wednesday March 13 due to Campion’s cup commitments.

In the first half against Barton, Emley showcased some of their best football for the Fantastic Media Welfare Ground crowd with Iyrwah Gooden proving dangerous early on.

The home side took the lead in the 11th minute when Gooden, from his familiar position hugging the left touchline, angled a ball into the path of Jerome, who managed to connect at full stretch and steer it in at the far post.

Jerome was in great form as he constantly found ways to pepper the Barton Town goal with what felt like every attack throughout the first half.

Emley continued to drive forward and the sustained period of pressure bore fruit again as Walker was on hand to finish Jerome’s driven cross into the area to make it 2-0.

Emley really found their groove and it was 3-0 five minutes before the break when Metcalfe put the finishing touch on an expansive passing move from defence to attack with a curling shot into the bottom left corner.

Barton showed some battling qualities in the second half to prevent Emley from scoring again. Emley keeper Aleksander Petrovic pulled off a great save from Harrison Coley five minutes after the restart.

Emley eventually found a way to counteract Barton’s sturdier second half approach in the 63rd minute, as Gooden provided an outlet, sprinting deep into Barton territory before trying to get a shot away.

Slightly overrunning it, James Walshaw had a stab goalwards, and Metcalfe tried to scramble it home. Barton’s defensive work was frantic but effective as they thwarted the attack.

With 20 minutes to go, Barton did eventually claw back a goal as Emley seemed to switch off. The away side worked the ball well down the left and the resulting deep cross was headed back into the path of Reece Moody, who slotted home and immediately ran the ball back to the centre circle.

Smelling blood, the visitors tested Emley’s defences once more in the 78th minute but a header went just wide.

In the 85th minute, Gooden cut inside his man and darted into the box after a marauding run from the halfway line. He had to at least hit the target, but his efforts were all for nothing when he blazed high and wide.

The left winger looked sure to get his goal in the 90th minute but was hacked down from behind and a penalty was awarded. 

As desperate as Gooden was to score, Nathan Curtis was the man placing the ball on the spot. He looked assured as he stepped up, driving low and hard to the left where keeper Dave Birch, on his debut, tipped the ball round the post.

There are just nine games of the league season left and next up is an away trip to Garforth Town on Tuesday March 5.