IT NEEDED to be better, and it was. Just three days after their ‘Woeful Wednesday’ against Hartlepool United, came not quite a ‘Super Saturday’, but certainly a more than satisfactory one for Barrow AFC.

The Bluebirds missed the chance in midweek to put some space between themselves and the relegation zone but instead fell back into the clutches of the bottom four.

Less than 72 hours later though, on the same pitch and against high-flying Dover Athletic – a team with three back-to-back wins behind them and four clean sheets from their last five outings – they took a point with a much-improved display.

While neither side can claim to have dominated the game, Barrow will feel – and rightly so – that they were the better team and more than matched opponents whose season is taking a different path to their own.

Against Pools, AFC looked listless, aimless, lost at sea, but here they stuck to their game-plan, contained their opponents and gave away nothing needlessly.

The defensive line of the experienced Mossa Diarra alongside youngsters Ollie Cook, Donovan Makoma and Calum Macdonald, looked as strong as any the Bluebirds have fielded all season, and rarely did Dover get a sniff of a clear opening on goal.

In front of them, even if passes did not always find their mark, their was an improvement in midfield as well, as the returning Bedsente Gomis and loanee Kingsley James both asserted themselves on the game.

Lewis Walters was a threat out wide, and Luke James continues to bully defences – though his threat level on the back of five goals in five games had obviously been assessed by the visitors, who did a better job of closing him down than anyone else in the past two months.

Only the lack of a cutting edge up front could draw any kind of frustration from the home support. The nearest Barrow came to a goal was when Macdonald hit the post with a free-kick, while Cook, Gomis and skipper Asa Hall all had openings they couldn’t capitalise on.

To dwell on that shortcoming would be churlish – but it needs to be addressed if vital points are to be picked up from the remaining nine games – especially given the vast improvement on the game against Pools.

In contrast, Barrow started well and were the team creating openings, pushing their opponents back.

Attacking the Crossbar End – having warmed up at the opposite end of the field to normal as they looked for any changes that could result in an end to their winless home run – Luke James had the first chance.

The loan striker controlled a high, looping ball well in the area, then flicked it up from behind him as the defence scrambled around, the intuitive effort looping up and onto the netting on top of the goal.

Gomis tried his luck from 25 yards but it was tame and down Mitch Walker’s throat in the Dover goal, with Mitch Pinnock then having a go from distance at the other end – perhaps having seen Steve Arnold’s struggles earlier in the week – but he was off target.

Giancarlo Gallifuoco headed weakly wide from a cross into the AFC box, and Connor Essam forced an Arnold fumble at the near post with a shot from the left flank, the keeper recovering quickly to gather.

The first real opening fell the way of the home side, as Macdonald floated a free-kick into the area from just inside his own half, and Diarra rose to head down and across the face of goal. There was a crowd of players waiting to pounce but it was Cook who was the man who got his foot to the ball, but his shot from close range lacked any real power and didn’t test Walker.

Walters was denied what seemed a good shout for a penalty when Essam brought him down with a trip as he ran past – Luke James would be similarly denied in the second half and both from challenges almost certainly punished anywhere else on the field.

Barrow still looked the more likely in the second half, and Gomis met a Macdonald cross well early on, only to head without power and give Walker and easy save.

Macdonald then had a go himself, after Essma had brought down Luke James as he ran through – one of 23 free-kicks conceded by a visiting side who were happy to foul at will.

The defender curled an effort past the wall and headed towards the bottom corner but his radar was the slightest bit off and the effort thudded the foot of the post before being cleared.

There was more attacking from the Bluebirds before the end, with the best chance falling to skipper Hall, after Diarra had headed down another well-floated Macdonald free-kick, but he could only stab high over the bar.

In fact, the best opening of this half came from the visitors, with their only real threat of the entire game, as substitute Anthony Jeffrey was played into space in the area and outmanoeuvred the defence before sticking his boot out and pushing an effort wide.

Barrow kept on looking and probing, and if anyone was to grab a late winner it would have been them, but they seemed happy to take the point given what had happened in the last game.

With Solihull also in a stalemate at Halifax Town, AFC remain out of the relegation zone on goal-difference, with a big Easter weekend ahead.

Match facts

Barrow AFC (4-4-2): Steve Arnold 6, Donovan Makoma 7, Ollie Cook 7, Moussa Diarra 7, Calum Macdonald 8, Asa Hall 6, Bedsente Gomis 7, Kingsley James 7, Grant Holt 6 (Jordan White 85), Luke James 7, Lewis Walters 7 (Bradley Bauress 74).

Substitutes not used: Dan Jones, Nathan Waterston, Tony Diagne.

Yellow cards: Diarra (40).

Dover Athletic (3-4-3): Mitch Walker, Femi Ilesanmi, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Manny Parry, Kevin Lokko, Connor Essam, Mitch Brundle, Liam Bellamy, Mitchell Pinnock (Anthony Jeffrey 60), Keanu Marsh-Brown (Ryan Bird 53), Adebayo Azeez (Kadell Daniel 76).

Substitutes not used: Josh Passley, Ekiro Okosieme.

Yellow cards: Brundle (40), Essam (53).

Referee: Paul Marsden.

Attendance: 908 (16 from Dover).

Next game: Boreham Wood v Barrow AFC, Good Friday, 3pm.

Star man: Calum Macdonald – part of a strong defensive line and producer of good free-kicks, both to set others up and, on one occasion, to strike the post.