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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Bluebirds are spot-on against Wigan - match report

BARROW AFC headed off to their Lake District pre-season training camp last night (Tuesday) with plenty work still to do but confidence boosted after a 2-1 victory over Wigan Athletic at Holker Street.

The Bluebirds dominated a men-versus-boys first half against a youthful side from the Premier League club, but were made to work much harder after the break, with triallist winger Andy Parkinson heading home the winner four minutes from time.

Barrow made five changes to the side which lost 1-0 to Accrington Stanley on Saturday, with Andy Nicholas, Richie Baker and Andy Cook, as well as triallist right-back Kelvin Lomax and Parkinson, a 32-year-old formerly of, among others, Tranmere Rovers, Notts County, Gateshead and, most recently, Accrington, all starting.

The Bluebirds, again lining up in a 4-3-3 formation with Adam Boyes on the right wing, Parkinson on the left and Cook up the middle, dominated the early stages against a Wigan Athletic youth team, many of whose players were probably out past their bedtimes!

The visiting team’s lack of age didn’t, however, equate to a lack of heart and the youngsters from Lancashire showed some neat touches without causing the home defence too many problems in the opening 45 minutes.

Barrow’s experience and know-how was, ultimately, too much for the kids in the first half as AFC’s midfield grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck, with Baker and Robin Hulbert turning in arguably their best performances of pre-season to date.

And it was Baker, on 16 minutes, who created the first chance with a quality free-kick from the left, which an unmarked Cook wastefully headed over from close range at the back post.

Barrow took the lead four minutes later when a Wigan player was, rather harshly, adjudged to have handled in the box following an Andy Ferrell corner. Baker snaffled up the ball before anyone else could get close and dispatched the spot-kick into the bottom corner, sending keeper Calvin Hare the wrong way.

Cook, desperate for a goal to build his confidence, then headed a Hulbert cross up and into the hands of Hare, before a delicate Baker chip went just over the bar.

Baker had the ball in the net again on 41 minutes, but only after Phil Bolland had fouled Hare in the build-up, with the referee awarding a free-kick to the visitors.

Barrow left the pitch at half-time to warm applause from a crowd of over 400, having comfortably controlled a first half in which keeper Danny Hurst was a virtual spectator.

His replacement for the second-half was number-two keeper Shaun Pearson, who took to the field alongside fellow substitutes Shaun Pejic and Mike Pearson.

Indeed Shaun Pearson did more in the first three minutes – saving a shot from Noah Dicko – than Hurst did in the entire first half.

Parkinson and Ferrell both saw shots go over the bar, before a much-improved Wigan, who themselves made a number of substitutions during the interval, went close through Jamie McCormack, who wasted a free header after poor Barrow marking from a free-kick.

The hosts introduced Paul Smith and Jack Mackreth, but it was the youngsters from Wigan in control and threatening an equaliser.

It arrived on 59 minutes when a pass from Pejic near the halfway line fell short of Nicholas – who in going for the ball got injured in the tackle – allowing the Latics to break. They did just, with Dicko applying a neat finish into the bottom corner from 14 yards out. Nicholas limped off to be replaced by final substitute Darren Sheridan, with Mike Pearson moving to centre-half.

The Bluebirds re-established a foothold in the game but were fortunate not to fall behind on 80 minutes when Dicko shot straight at Shaun Pearson after going one-on-one with the AFC keeper.

Moments later, Mackreth picked out Cook, whose header was beaten out by Hare. The rebound fell to Smith, but the Wigan keeper was equal to his 18-yard effort.

Smith, playing at right-back, was involved again on 86 minutes when, after good build-up play from the lively Mackreth, he picked out Parkinson, who stooped to head home the winner at the back post.

Barrow AFC: Danny Hurst (Shaun Pearson 46), Kelvin Lomax, Gavin Skelton (Mike Pearson 46), Andy Nicholas (Darren Sheridan 64), Phil Bolland (Shaun Pejic 46), Robin Hulbert (Paul Smith 56), Andy Ferrell, Richie Baker, Andy Parkinson, Andy Cook, Adam Boyes (Jack Mackreth 56).

Wigan Athletic: Calvin Hare, Michael Girvan, Rob Kiernan, Jordan Robinson, Callum Morris, Jordan Rugg, Ryan Watson, Steve Boothman, Jes Jua Angoy, Noah Dicko, Jordan Mustoe. Subs used: Jonathan Breeze, Adam Dawson, Sean Myler, Adam Buxton, Joshua Langley, Liam Willis, Jamie McCormack.

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