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Saturday, 04 July 2015

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Barrow AFC beaten by goal not even Fred Else would have saved

WORD has it Fred Else was at the bitterly cold New Lawn stadium in Gloucestershire last night.

The former Barrow, Preston and Blackburn ace – a man widely regarded as the best goalkeeper never to win a full England international cap – was celebrating his 77th birthday by watching his old team tackle Forest Green Rovers, the club where his grandson Jon is on the playing staff.

Not even in his heyday however, would the legendary Fred have been able to keep out the late 20-yard rocket Lee Morris scored to snatch three crucial points for the hosts in this Blue Square Premier relegation six-pointer.

The 29-year-old Morris had been on the pitch only 10 minutes when he was given space on the edge of the box and lashed a ferocious shot into the top corner past the helpless Tim Deasy.

It was a strike deserving of winning any game, though in saying that, Barrow rightly felt disappointed not to have come away with the point their hard-working performance merited.

The Bluebirds once again made themselves hard to beat away from home, with solid banks of four in both defence and midfield comfortably keeping Rovers at bay for most of the match.

The visitors attacked on the break and created a couple of good chances, but, in truth, the game had goalless draw written all over it.

That was until Morris intervened and showed everyone why he was once an England Under-21 international who Derby County splashed out £3m on.

The result brought to an end Barrow’s six-game unbeaten run. The Bluebirds are now four points and five places above the relegation zone with eight games left to play. Forest Green, who have now won their last four games, are also no longer in the dreaded bottom-three.

AFC, for whom last night was a third game in the past five days, made two changes to the side which drew 0-0 with Histon just 48 hours earlier at Holker Street, with Paul Rutherford and Andy Bond replacing Simon Wiles and Mark Boyd, both of whom dropped to the bench.

Rovers also made two changes to the side that staged a magnificent comeback to beat Altrincham 4-3 on Saturday, with injured first-choice keeper Danny Ireland and suspended ex-Bluebird David Brown replaced by David Wilkinson and Joe O’Cearuill. Rovers named Tomi Ameobi – the younger brother of Newcastle ace Shola – up front alongside the feisty Reece Styche.

Prior to kick-off, shivering home fans rattled collection buckets in a bid to boost the troubled club’s Keep The Green Alive campaign.

Their troubles off the field are, however, not reflected on it, and Rovers made a bright start with an on-target Isaiah Rankin half-volley comfortably gathered by Deasy.

Bond shot well wide from long-range for Barrow before Forest Green had their best opportunity of the half. It fell to Jonathan Smith after Deasy had raced out of his goal to clear, only to see the ball come off his thigh and fall invitingly for Smith 25 yards out. The Rovers midfielder lofted the ball towards the empty net but saw his effort drift wide.

A Nick Chadwick volley was deflected wide on eight minutes, with the striker scrambling a half-chance well past the upright from the resulting corner.

Impressive AFC left-back Paul Edwards – who has settled in superbly since his recent arrival – made a crucial tackle on 14 minutes to snuff out a dangerous Rovers attack.

The hosts continued to enjoy the lion’s share of the possession and knock the ball about neatly in midfield, without unlocking a solid Barrow rearguard.

The best chance of the half – and Barrow’s first shot on target – came three minutes before the break when Spender played Chadwick in down the right channel. The striker stole a march on two defenders before attempting to lob Wilkinson. Unfortunately the striker’s clever 16-yard effort was tipped round the post by the back-peddling Rovers keeper.

Deasy came to Barrow’s rescue after the re-start when saving with his legs to deny livewire substitute Danny Powell, whose mazy run past three defenders deserved a better finish.

Carlos Logan, cutting in from the right, tried his luck with a couple of shots before Chadwick dragged an effort wide from a great position 12 yards out. Morris, who was given too much room by the Barrow defenders, then snatched the points with a strike which some Gloucestershire journalists proclaimed as the team’s best goal this season.

The Bluebirds, who by now had thrown on substitutes Lee McEvilly and Wiles, went in desperate search of an equaliser.

But although they forced a couple of scrambles and pin-ball moments in the home box, Barrow were unable to find a leveler.



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