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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Sojde can't save 10-man Barrow from Southport defeat

EFE Sodje’s pre-game arrival could not inspire 10-man Barrow AFC to victory as they suffered their second morale-sapping hammering in three days by slumping to a 5-2 defeat at Southport.

The vastly experienced 40-year-old defender joined the Bluebirds on a month’s loan from Bury yesterday afternoon to provide a timely boost.

Dave Bayliss’s men already had all the motivation they needed ahead of last night’s game, as they attempted to redeem themselves following Saturday’s 8-1 humiliation at Mansfield.

And they duly came out fighting at Haig Avenue and took the lead through Matt Flynn’s early goal before the game’s pivotal moment arrived on 17 minutes. Barrow midfielder James Owen conceded a penalty and was sent off for bringing down Shaun Whalley, whose penalty was saved by recalled goalkeeper Danny Hurst.

However, losing numerical parity eventually took its toll on the visitors who, after showing admirable resistance in the first half, fell apart in the second period.

And once again they were cast as whipping boys as they were steam-rolled by a Karl Ledsham brace, plus singles from Liam Willis, Chris Almond and Andy Owens.

Bayliss would have been mightily relieved to be able to recall Hurst who made his comeback from a shoulder injury at the expense of Shaun Pearson. With Sean Hessey once again crying off with the flu, Barrow were also without suspended midfielder Richie Baker. While Sodje replaced fellow new defender Tom Eckersley, midfielder Garry Hunter was recalled while Danny Rowe warmed the bench.

Meanwhile, Striker Lee McEvilly overcame a chest complaint to take his place amongst the substitutes.

Sodje may have only signed up to Barrow’s survival bid in the hours leading up to kick-off but he still had time to get his hands on a dashing light blue bandana which perfectly matched the visitors’ away-day colours.

And the veteran, making his first appearance for a month, executed a few solid early clearances.

The early exchanges were frenetic, and at times scrappy, as the rivals fought for supremacy on a chilly February evening.

But Barrow were quickest to get into their stride and scored from the game’s first opportunity, which arrived from Danny L Rowe’s sixth-minute corner. The attacker swung over his left-flank set-piece to the near post where Flynn flicked his header into net from close range.

It was just the tonic the Bluebirds required to shake off the cobwebs of Saturday’s dismal showing.

While Barrow battled with aggressive intent, neither side were able to grab the game by the scruff of the neck during tight and cagey exchanges.

Barrow’s 4-3-3 formation, with midfielder Paul Rutherford playing in a more advanced position to support strike duo Adam Boyes and Rowe, was proving to be effective up against Southport’s 3-5-2 system. Barrow’s tenacity was epitomised when Hunter did well to block Whalley’s shot from distance.

The game sparked into life again, on 17 minutes, when Owen received his marching orders before Hurst came to the fore.

Whalley collected the ball in the left channel and was about to pull the trigger before being hauled down by Owen’s desperate challenge. Referee Karl Evans deemed Owen – who got caught out defending too deep which ruled out the chances of forcing an offside decision – to be the last man, and duly issued him with a straight red card.

But after dusting himself down Whalley fired his penalty down the middle and watched in horror as Hurst dropped to his right side to keep out his poor effort.

The cost of Owen’s dismissal was that Rutherford had to drop back to right midfield while Rowe filled in on the opposite flank, leaving Boyes a lonely figure as the sole striker.

But Barrow still resembled a solid unit with Hurst showing no signs of his recent shoulder injury by coming off his line to try and clear the ball at every opportunity. But he had Gavin Skelton to thank for clearing the danger, on 26 minutes, when the left back cleared Ledsham’s dangerous centre, with Almond breathing down his neck.

Hunter blocked another strike from the dangerous Whalley, soon after, before the Southport attacker aimed a weak angled header straight at Hurst.

The hosts inevitably applied more pressure as the half wore on but Barrow continued to stand firm as Almond’s 20-yard shot was blocked before his penalty appeal, claiming a hand-ball in the box, fell on deaf ears.

With the Haig Avenue crowd becoming increasingly frustrated Barrow were fairly comfortable in seeing out the half as Southport struggled to create clear cut chances.

It seemed that Sodje’s confident and authoritative demeanour was catching.

Southport boss Liam Watson responded at the start of the second half by making a double substitution as midfielder Willis and defender Andrew Parry replaced Neill Byrne Simon Grand respectively.

And the move paid off royally just four minutes after the re-start when Willis latched onto a through ball before rounding Hurst and managing to get enough contact on the ball to send it over the line, despite the attention of Sodje, whose last-gasp challenge proved futile, when he initially appeared favourite to clear the ball.

Barrow were now facing an uphill task to take anything from the contest with Southport in the ascendancy.

Southport midfielder Aaron Chalmers blazed over from 25 yards on 51 minutes, but to their credit Barrow kept trying to push forward and produced some decent passing play on occasions.

But Southport doubled their advantage in spectacular fashion on 57 minutes after Willis made another notable contribution by swinging in an excellent left-flank delivery into the heart of the Barrow box.

The ball dropped to Ledsham who smashed an stoppable volley into the top corner from around 12 yards.

Bayliss decided to try and add fresh impetus by replacing Danny L Rowe with his namesake, and midfielder Danny Rowe, just after the hour mark. But the change could not prevent Southport from netting a third after Ledsham sprung the offside trap to break free in the left channel.

With acres of space afforded to him, the midfielder made no mistake in squaring the ball to Almond who tapped the ball over the line.

Adam Boyes pounced on a defensive error on 70 minutes before his low 20-yard drive was deflected just wide. But normal second-half business was restored on 73 minutes when Chalmers’s set-piece was flicked on and Ledsham grabbed his second goal by converting from a few yards out.

Scott Kay’s drive drew a superb save from Hurst before Steven Tames wasted a further chance by shooting wide.

However, Hurst was a little unlucky on 78 minutes when his clearance was blocked.

The ball was fed back across goal to the feet of Owens who guided the ball into the net – once again from spitting distance – to complete the rout.

Boyes rescued a fraction of pride on 84 minutes when he earned a penalty, as he was chopped down by Parry, before rifling his spot-kick into the centre of the net which proved to be a defiant last act.

The message on Efe Sode’s trademark bandana often reads “Against all Odds” and that appears an apt motto for Barrow’s relegation scrap following this latest hammering.

Have your say

AGAINST ALL ODDS BLUEBIRDS WILL FLY AND STAY UP.YOU'LL SEE,OH YE OF LITTLE FAITH.Keep the faith you loyal fans,and you'll be proud.Sing it loud and sing it clear.DB AFC,DB AFC.

Posted by captain bluebirdseye on 14 February 2013 at 14:51

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