BARROW AFC 1 (Gomis 10) SUTTON UNITED 1 (Wright 73)

THE quest for a home win goes on, but once more Barrow AFC went close against one of the National League’s best teams.

Tommy Wright was the man to deny them a first Holker Street success since October this time around, striking against the run of play to snatch a point for high-flying Sutton.

It was not what Barrow deserved, having led from the 10th minute through Bedsente Gomis and having hit the bar early in the second half amid a string of decent play and chances.

Yet it was what they took from the game, as the U’s took advantage of a single slip in the home defence to take their share of the spoils.

Manager Ady Pennock handed home debuts to goalkeeper Steve Arnold and loan pair Ollie Cook and Luke James, while Calum Macdonald returned having started a second loan spell from Derby County.

Macdonald and Jordan White came in for Harry Panayiotou and Chris Humphrey in the only two changes to the side beaten 3-1 at Torquay in their last outing.

White and Dan Jones started on the wings, with Cook and Macdonald in a three-man defence with Moussa Diarra.

After a quiet start, Gomis struck at the heart of his former employers.

As so often this season, it came from a long Dan Jones throw into the area from the right touchline, halfway inside the Sutton half. The ball floated to the near post and was flicked on to the back stick, where the French midfielder controlled and lashed into the back of the net.

Play meandered along once more after the goal, with no pressure applied on the Barrow goal and AFC looking for another way to carve open the U’s defence.

They found one way through on 24 minutes as Jack Barthram played through Grant Holt at pace into the right of the area. The player/coach raced the ball to the byline and pulled it back, hard and low, towards James, who connected but could do little but fire wide of the near post.

More uneventful play followed, Sutton unable to do anything to threaten the home goal, while Barrow prodded and probed to little effect.

They were close to a second five minutes before the break as James and Holt combined on the edge of the area, and the loan man made it to the byline and put in a low cross that beat everybody, with the AFC men unable to stretch far enough to tap it in.

Macdonald showed his defensive worth as Sutton made a fast break in response, rising high at the far post to make a clearing header as two men closed in.

James had a 25-yard effort which sailed over as the half wound down, though there was a moment of worry on the stroke of the interval as Kieran Cadogan sprinted to the area on the right and fired off a bullet towards the top corner that Arnold matched with a top-drawer save.

It was a frantic start to the second half, with Jordan White booked for a foul on Tom Bolarinwa, before U’s keeper Jamie Butler also received a caution as he took out James while he stormed onto the ball down the right touchline.

AFC went close to a second as Sutton failed to deal with a Jones free-kick and the ball came back to the wide man on the 18-yard line, from where he hit a powerful curling effort that beat Butler and thudded against the face of the bar before being cleared.

The Bluebirds were finding themselves having to defend more often than in the first period, but coped with high balls into the area, though gave away fouls too often close to the area out wide.

Macdonald was a commanding presence, doing whatever was required of him when he was called on, while James never stopped chasing up front, the two loan men showing their worth to the sparse crowd of 643.

Diarra caused a nervous moment among those home supporters with a long leg stuck in on Balarinwa as he ran into the AFC area, but he got enough of the ball to satisfy referee Marc Edwards and prevent a penalty being awarded.

There was to be no escape soon after, as Sutton carved open the home defence for the first time, with Cadogan striding forward and drawing in two men, creating space to play in Tommy Wright. Wright had time to draw Arnold from his line and slide past him into the far bottom corner for an equaliser that had not looked like it was coming.

Barrow looked to strike back, and Bradley Bauress and Byron Harrison came off the bench to give them new options in attack.

Bauress was quickly presented with an opportunity as he ran forward into the area, but he snatched at his chance and blazed wide of the top corner.

There was one final opening for the hosts as stoppage time loomed, with James again sparking into life, reaching the byline and putting in a low cross that Diarra directed just wide of the target.

It was another high-quality AFC display that deserved more than a point, just as against Wrexham and Tranmere, but a point was what they got, along with hope for the future.


Barrow AFC: Steve Arnold 7, Jack Barthram 6, Calum Macdonald 8, Moussa Diarra 7, Ollie Cook 7, Jordan White 8 (Harry Panayiotu 87), Asa Hall 6, Bedsente Gomis 8, Grant Holt 7 (Byron Harrison 79), Luke James 8, Dan Jones 7 (Bradley Bauress 74).

Substitutes Not Used: Thierry Audel, Chris Humphrey.

Yellow Cards: White (47).

Sutton United: Jamie Butler, Louie John, Jamie Collins, Kenny Davis (Brad Hudson-Odoi 63), Kieran Cadogan, Craig Dundas (Adam Coombes 52), Nicky Bailey (Simon Downer 17), Terell Thomas, Tommy Wright, Simon Walton, Tom Balarinwa.

Substitutes Not Used: Aswad Thomas, Owen Evans.

Yellow Cards: Butler (53), Hudson-Odoi (77).

Referee: Marc Edwards.

Attendance: 643 (13 from Sutton).


Luke James – He was lively, dangerous and caused no end of problems from the first minute until the last.