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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

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Barrow beat Kidderminster in key battle

“ONE-NIL to the Arsenal,” was the famed chant that Gunners fans would sing as their ‘boring’ side swept to success in the late 1980s and early 90s.

Bearing this in mind, Barrow fans might want to sing something similar – about the Bluebirds, not Arsenal, obviously – when they visit Aggborough Stadium in 11 days’ time.

The reason for this is that last night’s 1-0 win over Kidderminster was Barrow’s third successive victory over the Harriers by the exact same scoreline.

And, yes, on last night’s showing, Kidderminster fans would be well within their rights to call the Bluebirds ‘boring’. But do you think Barrow joint-managers Dave Bayliss and Darren Sheridan will care? No, not one bit.

That’s because last night was all about the result. Yes, a scintillating performance of free-flowing, attacking football would have been nice, but when you’re in a relegation dogfight like Barrow are, nothing but winning three points matters.

The Bluebirds were out-played for most of the game, and the visitors can count themselves very unlucky to have left with nothing, but, at the end of the day, three points is three points, however you get them.

Barrow, who now have six league games left to play, made two changes to the side beaten 3-0 at Tamworth on Saturday.

Top-scorer Jason Walker returned from a three-match suspension in place of Lee McEvilly and Gareth Jelleyman, back after an eight-game absence with a hamstring injury, replaced Paul Rutherford, who injured his back earlier in the day.

Paul Edwards was moved from full-back to left-wing.

Barrow, who went into the game on the back of a three-game winless streak, started brightly, with Simon Wiles working Harriers keeper Jasbir Singh.

Then, on four minutes, Nick Chadwick was fouled 20 yards out from goal. Andy Bond, making his 200th AFC appearance, saw his free-kick strike the wall and the ball ricochet to Phil Bolland.

The rangy centre-half spun quickly and shot from 12 yards out. The ball took a big deflection off a Kidderminster player, wrong-footed Singh, and trickled into the bottom corner.

It was Bolland’s fourth goal of the season and Barrow’s first in 274 minutes of football.

The Bluebirds continued to play at a high-tempo, with both Walker and Bond trying their luck from long-range.

The mid-table visitors, who arrived at Holker Street ravaged by injuries and illness to key players, then began to settle and take control against a Barrow side who grew increasingly nervous and edgy.

AFC keeper Tim Deasy saved from Darryl Knights, before an unmarked Lloyd Kerry missed a glorious chance at the back stick following a cross from ex-Barrow AFC loan player Marc Goodfellow.

By now the Bluebirds had lost the vibrancy with which they started proceedings, and had resorted to playing ineffective long balls out of defence.

Kidderminster, on the other hand, were playing some neat football through midfield and continuing to create chances.

On 36 minutes, Knights smashed a cracking 20-yard drive against the crossbar, with Jack Byrne failing to convert the rebound.

The visitors continued to press after the half-time break, though it was Singh who made the first save of the second half when parrying Wiles' shot at the near post.

Most of the action, however, was at the other end of the pitch, where AFC central defenders Bolland and Paul Jones and keeper Deasy were standing resolute.

Robert Matthews saw an overhead kick attempt saved by the Barrow keeper, before the Harriers striker skewed another chance wide from a great position. Kidderminster then lost substitute David McDermott to an ankle ligament injury as the game headed into a nervy six minutes of time added-on.

The visitors eventually found a way through the Barrow rearguard in the 95th minute, but James Lawrie’s close-range header was disallowed because of a foul by Matthews on Jones in the build-up.

Carlos Logan went close with an audacious 40-yard lob right at the death as the Bluebirds dug deep to claim three massive points in their fight to stay in the Blue Square Premier.

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