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Barrow AFC sink to Boxing Day defeat

Blue Square Bet Premier: Barrow AFC 0 Gateshead 2

Goals: Gateshead: Josh Gillies (41, 85)

Attendance: 1,135

WHAT a difference a year makes.

Barrow AFC started 2012 with a home run of three wins and two draws at then-fortress Holker Street.

Fast forward 12 months and yesterday, in their final home game of the calendar year, they suffered a miserable 2-0 defeat that extended their winless home record in Blue Square Bet Premier to five.

Not since a 3-2 victory over Southport on October 9 have the Bluebirds won a league match at the FBS Stadium, or away from home for that matter.

A run of eight games without a win during the last two-and-a-half months has resulted in Barrow sinking to the bottom of the table, and with the season almost at the halfway stage, they face their biggest battle since promotion in 2007/08 to stay in non-league’s top division.

Despite some excellent performances in cup matches, the Bluebirds have failed to deliver in most league encounters this term – a record of four wins in 22 speaks for itself – and yesterday was no exception.

A festive crowd of 1,135 arrived at a rain-lashed Holker Street expecting to see more of the same following a tremendous performance in the 1-1 FA Cup second round draw against Macclesfield in Barrow’s last outing.

Instead they witnessed a poor display from a Bluebirds side who, despite never giving up, were out-played for the most part on a pitch which deteriorated as the rain poured down.

Boss Dave Bayliss named the same side that took on Macclesfield eight days earlier, with Richie Baker playing in a role just behind striker Adam Boyes. The pair went into the game having notched 20 goals between them this season.

For new Gateshead manager Anth Smith, who replaced the axed Ian Bogie recently, it was only a second game in charge, his first having ended in a 1-0 FA Trophy second round win at Cambridge United a week-and-a-half ago.

Barrow bossed the early stages and went close on five minutes when winger Sean McConville lifted a 16-yard shot onto the roof of the net.

The Bluebirds – with McConville, Baker and Boyes linking well and midfielder Alex-Ray Harvey snapping into tackles – continued to force the issue on the greasy surface without creating any clear-cut chances.

Gateshead, meanwhile, had threatened little until the 18th minute when a cross from the right was turned goalwards by winger Ryan Donaldson but thankfully for the hosts, keeper Danny Hurst made a terrific point-blank save.

Play then switched to the other end and an unmarked McConville was denied a shot at goal by a last-gasp sliding block from Tynesiders’ right-back Carl Magnay.

With the rain still thundering down and the pitch becoming increasingly treacherous, perhaps referee Ross Joyce felt sorry for Gateshead keeper Adam Bartlett, who on 27 minutes slid out of the box with the ball still in his hands. Barrow players appealed for a free-kick but the man in the middle waved play on.

The visitors then enjoyed a real purple spell and should have gone ahead when Jamie Chandler slipped clear lone striker Yemi Odubade, who fired his shot straight at the legs of Hurst.

Moments later, Donaldson sped down the left and his cross was deflected over by the outstretched leg of Matt Flynn but the referee awarded a goal-kick.

Barrow responded and on 32 minutes McConville’s 20-yard shot skidded narrowly wide. Shortly afterwards, another shot fizzed off the surface, this time from Harvey, and Bartlett could only parry the ball away with visiting skipper Ben Clark blocking the rebound effort from Boyes.

Gateshead then took the lead four minutes before half-time when an outstanding passing move, from back to front and left to right, ended with winger Josh Gillies crashing home following a cross by James Brown.

The Bluebirds sought an instant reply and when Boyes’ long-range effort deflected off Clark, the ball spun inches wide of the post with Bartlett wrong-footed. From the resulting McConville corner, Boyes powerfully headed the ball goalwards and Paul Rutherford, from two yards out, stooped to nod it over the bar. The winger would have done better moving out of the way and allowing the ball to continue its course. Football is a much easier game with the benefit of hindsight!

Substitute Louis Almond replaced Baker in the role behind Boyes at the start of the second half but the on-loan Blackpool man struggled to make an immediate impact. Instead it was Gateshead who started the brighter and but for Hurst’s flying save, defender Magnay would have doubled the visiting team’s lead with a spectacular 30-yard strike that looked destined for the top corner.

With the heavy pitch now cutting up badly, both sides dug in for a what descended into a scrappy battle.

Bayliss, having introduced Danny Rowe for McConville, then, on 66 minutes, threw on final substitute Joe Jackson in place of Boyes. The decision to take off Boyes angered some of the home supporters on the Popular Side, who let their feelings be known.

Now playing in a 4-4-2 formation, the Bluebirds pushed on for an equaliser and almost got it when a cross from the left just evaded the head of Matt Flynn.

Shortly afterwards, Gateshead broke down field but failed to capitalise on a three-on-two situation with Donaldson heading over.

Then, on 79 minutes, Heed substitute James Marwood missed an even better chance, though Hurst deserves a lot of credit for using an outstretched right leg to keep the ball from sneaking in the bottom corner. A second Gateshead goal was, however, on the cards and it duly arrived five minutes from the end when Gillies tapped in from close range.

Barrow have now failed to beat Gateshead in their last seven league meetings and the bad news is they face two trips to the North-East in the space of the next 16 days, first in the Blue Square Bet Premier reversal and then in the FA Trophy second round.

Barrow (4-4-1-1): Danny Hurst; Matt Flynn, Gavin Skelton, Mike Pearson (captain), Sean Hessey; James Owen, Alex-Ray Harvey, Paul Rutherford, Sean McConville (Danny Rowe 62); Richie Baker (Louis Almond 46); Adam Boyes (Joe Jackson 66).
Subs not used: Shaun Pearson, Tom Anderson.

Gateshead (4-5-1): Adam Bartlett; Carl Magnay, Paddy Boyle, James Curtis, Ben Clark (captain); Jamie Chandler, Phil Turnbull, James Brown (Liam Henderson 65), Josh Gillies, Ryan Donaldson; Yemi Odubade (James Marwood 65).
Subs not used: Micky Cummins, Jordan Nixon, Glenn Wilson.

Have your say

I spoke to lamps and he said where the hell is barrow ! I said bottom of the league so his answer was give me a magician and a load of dough I might give it a go ! Have barrow got enough fuel for the Aston Martin ?

Posted by Di matteo on 28 December 2012 at 19:15

Deja Vu all over again but put simply once again, Barrow do not have the resources to compete in BSP no matter who the Manger is. That is because the football-orientated people of the town are apathetic and will only come along when the team are winning or it is a big game. If they supported their families using the same logic they would all be divorced with their kids and any elderly parents in care. They are just not wired up right.

Posted by Old John on 28 December 2012 at 18:21

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