Barrow FC 1 County 0 ( Conference North ) 3 April 2015
The visit of Stockport County attracted over 1600 to Holker Street today, on a raw afternoon so typical of Barrow at any time of the year.
A very competitive game saw County extremely unlucky to come away from Cumbria without at least one point- a situation that owed shed loads to the continuation of a run of ill fortune you wouldn`t wish on your worst enemy. This time it was an injury, to Kyle Jacobs, that caused the angst. Up until that point County had done really well, restricting the league leaders to the bare minimum of shots on goal, whilst coming very close indeed themselves, through Dennis, albeit with just about our only shot on target, mid way into the second half. But.....with barely 10 minutes left Jacobs.....who had been a key player for County, along with Moses in a busy County mid field, went down injured near the far touchline. At that point, with Jacobs in obvious trouble, I fully expected referee Kevin Mulraine to stop play......but he didn`t......play continued....the ball crucially running to Andy Haworth who lashed it home from just outside the box, and that was that.... and despite County`s best efforts it remained 1-0 , which was scant reward for a decent showing by County against a side on a run of form.
|Alan Lord takes time out to chat to County Supporters.|
Back to 3 o`clock, and there was a familiar bite in the air as kick off neared. County were unchanged from `the match that never was ‘ last Saturday, and I was probably the only one on the ground expecting County to snatch this one!
The early moments saw each side have a go......a foul on Churchman offering Wilkinson the chance of early glory which he promptly wasted with a really poor free kick. Barrow`s initial reply came via wide man Danny Pilkington but his cross, angled in wickedly from the right, was dealt with immaculately by Hurst.
|Hurst it is !!|
Then Lees had work to do, doing it well to deny Anthony Wilson, but the best chance for Barrow seemed to come when Izak Reid darted clear down the left. He looked a threat with his muscularity and pace, but the threat was nullified, when O`Halloran bided his time...waited his moment, and then just took the ball off the onrushing forward`s toes. That was almost worth the entry fee alone, but was utterly typical of another stonkingly good performance from the popular Irishman!
|Churchman & Duxbury in action.|
It went on with Duxbury doing just enough to put Pilkington off as he bore down on goal.
Cue the first injury crisis for the yellow shirted blues, as Wilkinson had to be replaced by Charlie Russell after a heavy tackle had incapacitated him.
|Wilkinson down prior to going off.|
It had been mostly Barrow on the offensive as the 10th minute was ushered in with a Barrow free kick after Moses was adjudged to have fouled Pilkington. Ex Hatter Sam Sheridan took it, and Hurst did really well to tip the ball over the bar at the last moment, capping this with another decent stop almost straight away as Pilkington sought to capitalise on a lapse by Duxbury!
County did respond- Jacobs sending Spencer scooting clear, but the Barrow keeper, Tony McMillan, snaffled Todd`s final ball with ease , and a follow up move involving Todd and Spencer fared no better.
On it went with both teams trying a bit, none more so than Alex Ray-Harvey for Barrow, who was stopped by excellent work from Hurst as he burst clear.
Meanwhile, it was noticeable that Jacobs midfield roll seemingly included a brief to push on up the park, and he was the proverbial whisker away from reaching a beautiful reverse pass from Spencer on the edge of the box! Barrow survived, but it offered County hope.
Barrow pressed on, forcing vital interventions from O`Halloran, Duxbury and Lees in rapid succession- Wilson volleying over the top on the end of it all!
|Duxbury tracks Pilks, covered by Moses.|
Thirty minutes in, and I took stock of where we were, and I had Lees and O`Halloran in complete command at the back, with Moses and Jacobs very competitive in the middle, and if neither Dennis or Spencer had created much, they did offer possibilities and both looked like they wanted the ball. Much depended I suppose, on how Barrow shaped up, and so far it had to be said that despite periods of possession, there was not a lot of oomph factor about the work of the Cumbrian side!
|No way through for Barrow.|
Down to 10 briefly as Dennis took a limb threatener from a none too particular opponent, County could only watch as Pilkington shot wide after a previous attack had seen O`Halloran in action heading clear off the line under pressure. O `Halloran was by no means done either ,and magnificent work from him next dished Andy Cook comprehensively , and allowed Hurst the luxury of being able to clear his lines , after Cook had looked on for glory!
Some good stuff followed from County....Duxbury doing well to stop Reid`s break,
|Dennis in the thick of it !|
and Moses unlucky to see McMillan stop Spencer adding finish to Tunji`s pass. Nil- nil at the break, against the league leaders was not bad at all, and I was by no means convinced to alter my earlier notion that we had a chance of winning this one!
The second half opened with Barrow pressing forward and in a five minute period Cook had shots charged down by Russell and O`Halloran , and another result in a corner that saw Hurst punch hurried clear , before having to dive at the feet of Wilson to prevent the home side opening the scoring.
Corners came and went, after this, for Barrow, without them really looking like getting that opener, indeed the 62 nd minute almost saw County spring a surprise as Spencer found himself on the end of a fine through ball from Jacobs.
Mc Millan just got to the ball before the Stockport man, so again I was encouraged! Less so when almost straight away Cook went clear! The alarm bells sounded as he sped on, but Lees quickly tracked back and won loud applause from the County following as he stopped his man and won a free kick to boot!
|Lees gets stuck in !|
Barrow kept at it however with Cook, urged on by the tenacious Sam Sheridan, in the van bringing decent block after decent block from Moses, Lees and company. But no one in yellow could do anything, on 67 minutes, as yet another Sheridan pass headed into the box where Cook lurked. It was a chance but an air kick followed from the Barrow number ten and it went as soon as it appeared!
|Work for Hurst and company !|
Another minute or so, and I was getting positive again thanks to Jacobs who ended a raid by Burns and Sheridan with a lovely bit of defensive work capped by a peach of a through ball. This was sadly not matched by the finishing of Spencer and Churchman at the sharp end, and it was to be hoped that we would not regret this later.
|Sheridan & Churchman head to head.|
I forgot this momentarily as Dennis weaved his way past 3 men heading for goal. Unfortunately the fourth tripped him smack on the edge of the box. A free kick followed which seemed very much within the Dennis range, but he sent it high over the bar to the relief of the home crowd.
|That free kick.........|
|.........Doesn`t trouble McMillan|
County continued to defend well after this –O`Halloran particularly impressing, even finding time for one of his surging up-field runs- an abortive one, but good to see none the less. Dennis was thwarted by Sheridan as well, so it was not all Barrow by any means.
That said, they did still have fire power up front, with Cook looking top man in this respect, so Todd did well to stop his run –the only cost to us being a corner! But......Jacobs was down and in obvious trouble. Would the referee stop proceedings? I thought he might, but no.....play continued ...the ball reaching substitute Haworth in the space vacated by Jacobs, just outside the box. He promptly took full advantage of his good fortune by lashing a superb strike into the net before Hurst could think of moving. That was disgustingly bad luck for County, and my anguish was increased by the knowledge that only moments earlier I had made jest of the not overly hardy Haworth`s `nice gloves’!
Jacobs meanwhile hobbled off but the damage was done, and the match probably lost.
Cue a booking for Sheridan for a tasty foul on Spencer, that earned him a thoroughly deserved booking, as Ryan came on for Jacobs for the last10 minutes.
County did their best to snaffle something from the game for sure, and for a moment I thought that maybe they had, as a terrific ball from Russell sent Dennis past Livesey into the box. A neat shot followed from Dennis but somehow McMillan managed to push it out. Again Dennis went for the loose ball but a combination of Mc Millan and Livesey blocked the forward`s efforts!
County kept it up......an O`Halloran one two ( close but not close enough)....a free kick...curled a foot past the far post by Russell.......
......... but there was defending to do too....as a slider by O`Halloran did for a dangerous run by goal scorer
Haworth, and Duxbury blocked Walker`s gallop into added time. More Barrow corners.....more good work from the likes of O`Halloran ,and that was that.....County`s valiant effort had been sparcely rewarded. My meticulous head count meanwhile, fixed the number of County fans at Holker Street at 352- not a bad turn out on a wet ...cold bank holiday. Their team deserved better....but it`s clear that, with the odd addition there is plenty for Lordy to build on next season, when I fancy that we will need to adopt the Danny Blanchflower approach of ` equalising before the other team score’ in our quest to fend off an obvious challenge from FCUM and others for promotion. I cannot wait, meanwhile we have unfinished business at Hyde and the small matter of a few more end of season games to put to bed.
See you in the Bung on Monday ahead of the first of these ....County v Oxford City!
County line up:
Hurst, Todd, Lees, OHalloran, Duxbury, Moses, Churchman( Lofthouse 89), Wilkinson ( Russell 7), Jacobs( Ryan 79), Dennis, Spencer.
Subs not used:
Barrow line up:
McMillan, Burns , Cowperthwaite, Sheridan, Livesey, Grand, Pilkington( Haworth 68), Ray-Harvey, Wilson( Walker 53), Cook, Reid ( Gorman 86) .
Subs not used:
Attendance : 1657