Barrow AFC suffer more humiliation at Mansfield
Last updated at 14:01, Tuesday, 12 February 2013
BARROW AFC plunged further into the relegation mire by capitulating to an 8-1 defeat at promotion contenders Mansfield Town.
IN suffering a sickening eight-goal dose of deja vu hapless Barrow AFC saw their mini-league revival come to a shuddering halt at the home of their tormentors-in-chief Mansfield Town.
The Bluebirds were striving to bury the demons of their 7-0 mauling at Field Mill almost 12 months ago, following morale-boosting successes over Mansfield’s promotion rivals Newport and Luton Town.
But they fell desperately short of securing another unlikely win as Matt Green’s hat-trick, including two converted penalties, boosted the Stags to a galling 8-1 win, with recalled Bluebirds striker Danny L Rowe netting a first-half consolation from the spot.
The abject nature of the defeat was perfectly summed up by Bluebirds boss Dave Bayliss, who said: “I’m devastated and gutted, but we’ve taken six points out of nine from our last three games.
“There are no positives from Saturday’s performance – the only positive I’ve got from coming here is that we haven’t got to come back.”
Bayliss was brutally honest in his post-match assessment by repeatedly admitting it was like watching ‘men against boys’ and that his players had been bullied and second best “from one to 11”.
He also branded this mismatch as ‘the haves versus the have-nots’ as he was once again unable to select a full quota of substitutes, while Mansfield could call upon a largely stellar and bloated cast of quality Conference operators.
The fact Mansfield chairman John Radford gave his Aston Martin car to jubilant Stags manager Paul Cox after the match to serve as a little sweetener merely emphasised the point, albeit in a far cruder sense.
On the pitch, Barrow just couldn’t live with Mansfield’s vastly superior pace, power and all-round athleticism.
The Bluebirds’ leaky defence opened up like the Red Sea on occasions and they struggled to cope with the dynamic attributes showcased by the likes of attacking trio Lee Stevenson, Green and Colin Daniel.
But in their defence, they were left completely exposed at times as Barrow were hopelessly over-run in the centre of park, which engineered huge areas of space for the hosts to utilise and left wing duo Danny Rowe and Paul Rutherford largely redundant.
To add salt to the wounds, Bayliss also disputed the decisions by Braintree referee Robert Whitton to award Mansfield’s two ‘soft’ penalties.
Bayliss’s painfully threadbare squad was further weakened as goalscoring midfielder Richie Baker was suspended, while centre-back Sean Hessey was forced to withdraw through illness.
Meanwhile, Shaun Pearson continued to deputise for Barrow’s injured number one goalkeeper Danny Hurst (shoulder).
With Hessey confined to his sick bed Bayliss handed a full debut to 21-year-old centre-back Tom Eckersley who arrived on a month’s loan from Accrington on Friday. Fellow youngster and new defender Sam Hibbert settled for a place on the bench. There was no hiding place for Eckersley in the early stages as the home side came flying out of the traps with Pearson doing well to tip over John Dempster’s powerful second-minute header.
Green headed Daniel’s cross wide before the Stags began the rout on eight minutes through Stevenson’s stunning 25-yard strike which flew into top corner, after the forward collected Green’s flick-on.
Eckersley showed a few signs of potential, including his goal-saving challenge which prevented Green from pulling the trigger on 13 minutes.
After being bombarded with pressure in the early stages Barrow held their nerve, clawed their way back into contention and duly hit back on 17 minutes.
Danny L Rowe attempted to side-step his marker and shoot in Mansfield’s box but he was cynically denied a goalscoring opportunity by Dempster’s tug. Whitton pointed to the spot and Rowe rifled his penalty just beyond Stags goalkeeper Andy Marriott.
Suddenly, the Bluebirds fancied the job as Marriott kept out Adam Boyes’s angled drive with his legs, before Rowe blazed over.
Their bubble was soon burst though, because on 23 minutes, Barrow right-back Matt Flynn, in trying to meet a delivery, was adjudged to have climbed on and man-handled Mansfield defender Luke Jones in the visitors’ area.
It seemed a harsh decision as Flynn appeared to make a genuine attempt to win the ball. Green stepped up to confidently despatch the spot kick into the bottom corner.
The goal took the stuffing out of Barrow although Danny L Rowe and Rutherford spurned half chances before Daniel made it 3-1 on the half-hour mark after latching on to Adam Murray’s ball-over-the-top.
The former Crewe winger raced in between Flynn and Bluebirds skipper Mike Pearson before guiding his shot into the bottom corner.
More Barrow misery followed just two minutes later when Green received Stevenson’s intelligent inside pass and skilfully lofted the ball over the advancing keeper Pearson and into the net.
Mansfield kept on coming as Pearson produced a fine save to palm over Louis Briscoe’s rasping 25-yard effort, before Murray’s effort was blocked on the Barrow line.
However, Pearson looked far less assured in the build-up to Murray bulging the net from close-range, following Jennings’s 42nd-minute corner, which preceded Marriott keeping out Danny L Rowe’s 10-yard shot in first-half stoppage time.
After going into the break trailing 5-1 it was no wonder that Mansfield’s stadium public address announcer asked the crowd to give Barrow’s players a warm welcome back to pitch before the start of the second period.
The Field Mill faithful duly did, and later they applauded the Bluebirds’ 82 die-hard travelling fans who reciprocated the good-natured banter.
Green claimed his treble from the spot on 52 minutes after Mike Pearson was deemed to have fouled penalty winner extraordinaire Jones in the area following another coming together of bodies.
And, once again, Green displayed supreme confidence to slam his spot-kick into the top corner.
More clinical finishing resulted in a sixth goal as Stevenson secured a brace by receiving Matt Rhead’s pass before firing the ball past Pearson from just inside the area.
A defensive mix-up allowed impressive Stags midfielder Anthony Howell to guide his header over a stationary and helpless and over-worked Pearson on 70 minutes.
Additional chances came and went at both ends but mercifully the scoring stopped there, with Mansfield going on to record their joint-biggest home win in their 116-year history.
In contrast, the Bluebirds will want to erase this latest humiliation from the memory banks and while Bayliss refused to offer excuses he expressed his dissatisfaction at Whitton’s performance.
“I thought the referee was terrible – he was really poor,” said Bayliss ahead of tomorrow’s Blue Square Bet Premier clash at Southport.
“They were soft pens, they were never penalties. If he is giving pens for that then we should have had two.
“But the referee hasn’t scored their goals and we’ve been beaten by a better side. So we’ve got to draw a line, move on and go to Southport tomorrow night.”
First published at 14:45, Saturday, 09 February 2013
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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