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Barrow AFC denied victory by late Forest Green equaliser - match report, pics and video


Blue Square Bet Premier: Barrow 2 Forest Green Rovers 2

Goals: Barrow: Adam Boyes (45), Mattt Flynn (61). Forest Green: James Norwood (15), Matt Taylor (88)

Attendance: 853

Video highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KN3RlhMjhLQ

SO frustrated with his side’s set-piece defending – or lack of it – Barrow AFC manager Dave Bayliss made a point of taking me into the home team’s dressing room at Holker Street on Saturday.

Having watched the relegation-battling Bluebirds concede twice to unmarked headers direct from free-kicks and fielded numerous questions from the media as to why it keeps happening, he wanted to show me the instructions he had delivered to the players pre-match.

There hanging from the wall was a large sheet of paper clearly showing which opposing player each Barrow man had been assigned to mark from set-pieces. Why then Forest Green Rovers strikers James Norwood and Matt Taylor were awarded the freedom of the box to score goals on 15 and 88 minutes is baffling.

To add to the frustration, those two softly-conceded headers denied Barrow what should have been three points and allowed the high-flying visitors from Gloucestershire to escape with a share of the spoils.

Set-piece defending aside, the Bluebirds turned in one of their best performances of the season to date, playing with passion as well as attacking intelligence.

Strikes from top scorer Adam Boyes – his eighth goal of the campaign – and defender Matt Flynn – his first for the club – should have delivered a first league win in five Blue Square Bet Premier games, but instead Rovers snatched a late equaliser and Barrow fell to second bottom in the table.

The harsh truth is that, no matter how well they perform in open play, if the Bluebirds continue to gift opposing teams such simple goals from free-kicks and corners then they will remain in the dreaded drop zone.

Bayliss, who was presented with the manager-of-the-month award for October prior to kick-off, named the same side that started Tuesday’s 1-0 FA Cup first round replay win over Guiseley.

A crowd of just 853 – more than 500 fewer than in midweek but understandable given this was Barrow’s third home game in the space of eight days – watched two sides, both playing 4-3-3 formations, cancel each other out in the early stages.

Struggling to settle on a notoriously bobbly surface, neither team looked like scoring until Barrow conceded a free-kick on the right-hand side.

Yan Klukowski whipped the ball in and an unmarked Norwood, who had darted across the defensive line to take up a position at the near post, glanced a 10-yard header beyond the dive of Bluebirds keeper Danny Hurst into the bottom corner of the net.

With the visitors getting 10 men behind the ball at all times, Barrow, for all their possession, couldn’t find a way through.

Indeed it took until the 28th minute for the hosts to register their first shot – a Boyes half-volley that was comfortably taken by Rovers keeper Sam Russell.

Boyes worked Russell again with a header shortly afterwards before, at the other end, Flynn made a crucial last-gasp block to deny Taylor a tap-in.

Right-back Flynn was then harshly booked for what appeared to be an excellent tackle on Chris Stokes. This seemed to add extra fire to the bellies of Barrow’s players, who finished the half with a flourish.

First came the equaliser on 45 minutes, created by incisive passes from Flynn and then Joe Jackson that split Forest Green open down the middle and allowed a cool-as-you-like Boyes to expertly side-foot the ball into the bottom corner from 16 yards out.

Unable to contain the brilliant Boyes, the visitors, who have never won a match at Holker Street, then took to stopping the striker in his stride and both centre-halves, Eddie Oshodi and Aarran Racine, were booked in quick succession.

Following the second of those yellow cards deep into first half stoppage-time, Barrow defender Sean Hessey let fly with a curling 35-yard free-kick that looked set to nestle in the top corner until Russell made an outstanding fingertip save.

The Bluebirds started the second half as they had finished the first – on top.

Barrow born-and-bred teenager Jackson, who was a menace throughout, intelligently headed the ball into the path of Boyes, whose 20-yard effort was turned around the post by Russell.

Moments later, Jackson and Garry Hunter combined to set up Boyes but again the Forest Green keeper pulled off a superb stop, this time beating behind a ferocious shot from Barrow’s number nine.

The resulting corner was only half-cleared by the visitors and, after the ball had been swung back in to the far post, Richie Baker cleverly laid it on a plate for Flynn, who from six yards out smashed it through a crowd of players into the top corner.

The joyous defender raced away to celebrate in front of the main stand, lifting his hands to his face and mimicking the fashion glasses he wears, and bring much amusement to his team-mates, off the pitch.

Forest Green manager Dave Hockaday responded by introducing striker Magno Vieira off the bench and going four up front.
Pressure soon began to mount on the Bluebirds and Hurst came to the rescue on 79 minutes by pushing away a curling shot from Taylor that was heading for the far corner of the net.

Barrow countered and should have put the game to bed, but both Boyes and Jackson were unable to convert at the near post after a fine run and cross by substitute Paul Rutherford.

That missed opportunity would come back to haunt the home side two minutes from time when Hunter conceded a soft free-kick on the left, allowing Steve Brogan to deliver the ball into the danger area. Once again Barrow failed to get to grips with the movement of the Rovers players inside the box and an unmarked Taylor nodded in from eight yards out at the near post.

Having defended so well in open play, with on-loan centre-half Tom Aldred again the pick, the Bluebirds, for the umpteenth time this season, had let themselves down when defending a set-piece.

The result extended Barrow’s unbeaten record over Forest Green at Holker Street to six games but there is no doubt this should have been a fourth win rather than a third draw.

Barrow (4-3-3): Danny Hurst; Matt Flynn, Sean Hessey, Mike Pearson (captain), Tom Aldred; Alex-Ray Harvey, Garry Hunter, Richie Baker; Louis Almond (Paul Rutherford 82), Joe Jackson, Adam Boyes.
Subs not used: Shaun Pearson, Tom Anderson, Gavin Skelton, Sean McConville.

Forest Green (4-3-3): Sam Russell; Jared Hodgkiss, Chris Stokes, Eddie Oshodi (captain), Aarran Racine; Al Bangura (Steve Brogan 63), Paul Green, Yan Klukowski (Magno Vieira 76); Omar Koroma (Reece Styche 53), James Norwood, Matt Taylor.
Subs not used: Matt Bulman, James Rowe.

Read pre-match stories on the Barrow AFC page of the Evening Mail website at http://www.nwemail.co.uk/afc

Have your say

Come on Bayles, get it touch with "Bollie" and get him back in that collinder of a defence. He might not have been the quickest but he had positional sense and wasn't afraid to challenge for headers. Two crucial points thrown away by a needless free-kick and the now proven inability to defend set pieces.

Posted by Alan on 19 November 2012 at 12:10

If the score had stayed at 2-1, most people would have said that was a great win, given where they are in the league, so 2-2 must seem like a good result, so long as you don't look at the league table. But then with plenty of league games left and our Cup run, I think we'll come through anyway.
Mike Youles
Mike Youles

Posted by Mike Youles on 18 November 2012 at 01:47

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