BARROW AFC 1 (Waterston 29) AFC FYLDE 3 (Smith 24, Rowe 54, Tasdemir 90+5)

AFC Fylde increased the relegation gloom for Barrow, as former Bluebird Danny Rowe struck the crucial goal against a club whose fans already had little good to say about him.

The frustrations were obvious as Barrow’s players confronted each other after the final whistle, Dan Jones and Ollie Cook at the heart of it, on a night when mistakes proved costly.

The Bluebirds had looked to have carved themselves a way into the game when Nathan Waterston had equalised Jonny Smith’s first-half effort, but they had no second and no way of breaking through to take even a point.

Denied a penalty in the second half – as were the visitors – they grew increasingly desperate and have now chalked off one of their games in hand on their rivals without anything to show for it.

Fylde are a good side – one now in the play-offs – but one more there was a sense of a missed opportunity as the long wait for a home win goes on.

With captain Asa Hall battling against calf and back problems, Dan Jones came into the midfield, while Bedsente Gomis dropped to the bench in place of the recalled Waterston – himself back from a hamstring niggle.

Waterston joined Lewis Walters and Grant Holt in providing support to Luke James up front, with Jones’ long throw-in a weapon from the start as he slung the ball into the box from the touchline.

Danny Rowe – one of three former AFC men starting for Fylde, alongside Andy Bond and Simon Grand – had the first shot of the night, deflected wide from 35 yards, with Grand heading the corner wide from an unmarked position at the far post.

Barrow’s first opening came from one of Jones’s throws, with calls for a push on an AFC man in the area before Kingsley James headed over.

The hosts were looking slick as they started to string some passes together, one quick break from Luke James setting up Holt, who chose to look for the pass back when a shot was the better option.

Another Jones throw saw Waterston flick on and Ollie Cook just beaten to the ball by Jay Lynch, while Steve Arnold reacted at the last moment to claw away a ball into the area that went past everyone and caught him by surprise.

Luke James put a great chance on a plate for Waterston and Holt with a hard, low cross into the area, but neither could connect and the opportunity was gone.

It was from a Bluebirds chance that Fylde broke the deadlock.

A corner into the Coasters area was whacked clear by Moussa Diarra as he fell backwards and came to Jonny Smith on halfway. He turned past Donovan Makoma and had a free run in on goal, taking his time and slotting past the on-rushing Arnold from the edge of the area.

All the energy went from the ground and Barrow needed an immediate response.

They got it from the local boy, as Waterston was the man to make the right run at the right time as Jones threw the ball to the near post from the right touchline, heading past Lynch and into the net to provoke roars from the terraces.

Barrow now had Fylde rocking, and kept pushing forward for a second, and one chance saw Calum Macdonald ambitiously swing a free-kick goalward from the corner of the area that was never on target.

The visitors still had their chances, perhaps the best of the remainder of the half as Smith was free in the area with only Arnold to beat, but fired a shot down the keeper’s throat and he parried it away.

Barrow came out looking good after the break, and Jones made a fast break, playing in Luke James behind the defence. He went to a narrow angle and chose a fizzing cross rather than a shot, with no-one able to meet it.

There was nobody to connect with a long Jones throw that bounced across the face of goal soon after, with the need for a second goal key.

It went to the visitors through some route one football, as a long ball over the top was allowed to bounce and Rowe was allowed a sniff of goal – all he needed for his 23rd of the National League campaign as he fired past Arnold into the bottom corner.

Straight from the kick-off, Jones tried for an equaliser, seeing Lynch off his line and taking a shot from the centre circle that had the Fylde keeper scrambling back to tip it over the bar for a corner.

There should have been a home penalty when Waterston beat his man in the Fylde area and was brought down when on a dangerous run, only for referee Marc Edwards to bizarrely wave the claims away, to the consternation of everyone in a white shirt and on the terraces.

Barrow escaped at the other end when Ollie Cook brought down Rowe as he ran into the area, with a yellow card and a free-kick awarded rather than a red card and a penalty.

Rowe blasted the free-kick over the bar to let AFC off again, while Lewis Walters was through from a Luke James ball and should have brought the sides level, only to blast right at Lynch.

The Fylde keeper was lucky to stay on the field soon after, as he put his head into Grant Holt after some pushing in the area following a dangerous Jones throw that was cleared off the line, but the referee saw none of it and the linesman, who was in a far better position, proved totally ineffectual.

There were nervous moments in the Barrow area, as Arnold was caught off his line, and out of position, but Fylde could not capitalise, with Jones blocking and Cook clearing off the line.

There were attempts by Barrow to push back into the game, mostly creating pressure from Jones’s throw-ins, but they were suddenly short of ideas as Fylde shored up the defence and were happy to absorb the pressure. They struck one more at the death as Serhat Tasdemir broke past Cook and into the area before firing across goal into the far corner.

It was enough to provoke angry scenes among the AFC players after the final whistle – fight that shows passion, but not at the right time or in the right place.


Barrow AFC: Steve Arnold 6, Donovan Makoma 6, Ollie Cook 6, Moussa Diarra 7, Calum Macdonald 7, Dan Jones 7, Grant Holt 7 (Bedsente Gomis 78), Kingsley James 6, Nathan Waterston 7 (Jordan White 75), Luke James 7, Lewis Walters 7 (Harry Panayiotou 89).

Substitutes Not Used: Bradley Bauress, Tony Diagne.

Yellow Cards: Cook (66).

AFC Fylde: Jay Lynch, Lewis Montrose, Jordan Tunnicliffe, Simon Grand, Andy Bond, James Hardy (Jason Taylor 73), Sam Finley, Jack Muldoon (Serhat Tasdemir 65), Jonny Smith (Jake Lawlor 83), Lewis Burke, Danny Rowe.

Substitutes Not Used: Matt Blinkhorn, Henry Jones.

Yellow Cards: Grand (39).

Referee: Marc Edwards.

Attendance: 901 (76 from AFC Fylde).

Next Game: Leyton Orient v Barrow AFC, Saturday, 3pm kick-off.