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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Boyes gets wasteful Bluebirds out of jail - match report

BARROW AFC’s winless run reached double figures at already-relegated Kettering Town on an afternoon of frustration.

The Bluebirds registered 19 shots at goal – 10 on target – yet scored only once through a late Adam Boyes equaliser.

A lack of confidence in and around the box brought about by a miserable run of form meant Dave Bayliss and his men left Nene Park – the former home of Rushden and Diamonds and a bogey ground for Barrow – with just one point when they should have comfortably taken all three.

Bayliss made three changes to the side that lost 3-1 against Cambridge United, with skipper Phil Bolland and striker Andy Cook both returning from suspension and teenager Cliff Moyo given the nod in the problematic right-back berth.

Danny Hone and Andy Ferrell dropped to the bench, while Paul Smith missed out all together because of family commitments.

Kettering, who went into the game having won just four points from a possible 36 since their 3-0 defeat at Barrow in February, were only able to name three substitutes. The Poppies’ 35-year-old manager Ashley Westwood played himself at centre-half.

The mid-table Bluebirds started brightly and, moments after midfielder Richie Baker had sent shot well wide, Paul Rutherford cut in from the left wing and flashed a curling effort just past the far post.

Striker Boyes then looped a header straight into the hands of home keeper Laurie Walker. From the first corner of the game on 12 minutes Baker’s set-piece reached the edge of the box, where Cook unleashed a powerful shot that might have gone in had it not hit team-mate Bolland.

The rebound fell to Boyes, whose seven-yard prod was kept out by the legs of Walker.

Shortly after, Kettering lost their skipper Marcus Kelly to a knee injury.

Barrow continued to dominate and on 20 minutes a superbly-worked corner routine, which included a clever back-heel from Rutherford, resulted in Baker feeding the ball into the near post. Bolland’s snap-shot was blocked and Cook’s 18-yard half-volley bounced up and over the bar.

Kettering then established a foothold in proceedings, with two long-range shots from James Gray giving Bluebirds keeper Danny Hurst the chance to make a couple of comfortable saves and feel part of the game.

The first-half looked set to end goal-less until its dying embers when Moyo failed to deal with a ball down Barrow’s right and a sliced clearance from Baker gave the hosts a corner.

A second corner followed, before Gray crossed from the left and centre-half David Bridges – who was sent off playing for Stevenage in the FA Trophy final against Barrow at Wembley in 2010 – swept the ball into the back of the net from seven yards out.

There was still time in the half for the Bluebirds to almost equalise, but Bolland’s glancing header from a Gavin Skelton free-kick dropped just the wrong side of the post.

An even better chance fell to James Owen when, 13 minutes after the re-start, he burst through the middle of the park to go one-on-one with Walker. Unfortunately for the midfield battler, who has not scored all season, he skewed the ball well wide from the edge of the box.

Owen was involved again shortly after – this time heading the ball against his own post as the Bluebirds struggled to deal with another corner kick.

On 76 minutes, a neat one-two between Rutherford and Boyes ended with the latter shooting at Walker’s legs. Play quickly switched to the other end and Danny Mills fired a shot into Hurst’s chest.

It was, however, Barrow on top. The question was: could they score?

In truth it looked unlikely, if only because all their shots – including efforts from Mackreth and Cook – seemed to go straight at the home keeper.

Then, with 10 minutes to go, the Bluebirds eventually found a breakthrough. It came from a free-kick on the left-hand side which Baker whipped in and Boyes flicked past Walker from close-range.

It was the striker’s 21st goal of the season in all competitions but his first in three months. The final 10 minutes that followed had everyone on the edge of their seats.

First, from yet another Kettering corner that AFC failed to deal with, the ball skipped off the surface to Bridges, who, standing one-yard out at the back post, chested it wide.

Moments later, Skelton burst into the box and delivered the ball on a plate for Cook to score, but his shot from four yards out was saved down low by Walker. Boyes then failed to capitalise on a mistake by Westwood, before Mackreth crashed a shot just past the top corner.

Cook and Boyes had further chances, while, at the other end, a Mills effort brought a save from Hurst.

The final whistle ended a frustrating afternoon for the Bluebirds, who headed down the tunnel knowing this was a game they should have won.

They are now forced to take their winless run into the final match of the season, at home against Newport County next Saturday.

Blue Square Bet Premier: Kettering Town 1 Barrow AFC 1

Goals: Kettering: David Bridges (45). Barrow: Adam Boyes (80)

Attendance: 896 (82 Barrow supporters)

Barrow (4-4-2): Danny Hurst; Cliff Moyo, Gavin Skelton, Andy Nicholas, Phil Bolland (captain); Jack Mackreth, James Owen, Richie Baker, Paul Rutherford; Adam Boyes, Andy Cook. Subs not used: Jack Cudworth, Kelvin Lomax, Danny Hone, Paul Edwards, Andy Ferrell.

Kettering Town (4-4-2): Laurie Walker; Max York, Marcus Kelly (captain) (Taras Petranyuk 19), David Bridges, Ashley Westwood; Danny Mills, Patrick Noubissie, Ben Ford, Nathan Ralph; James Gray, Charlie Wyke. Subs not used: John Lesley Van Engel, Jamie Navarro.

Referee: Michael Bull

 

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