Chesterfield 0 Barrow AFC 0

For the second Saturday running, the scoreboard wasn’t troubled in a match involving Barrow AFC, as manager Ian Evatt’s return to Chesterfield ended in stalemate.

It means the Bluebirds will go through the whole of January without adding to their goal tally, despite them really troubling their struggling and increasingly nervy hosts in the last half-hour.

However, even this led to frustration, as they had to stymie their ambition somewhat after losing Lee Molyneux to a late red card, just when it looked the most likely that Evatt’s side were going to snatch a winner.

Barrow now have another two-week break coming up and, unlike the previous one, which came after a hectic period, it comes at a bad time, as there is plenty to build upon from their second-half display.

Ideally, they’d want the home game against Bromley to come sooner and, although the end result was the same, this performance at the Proact Stadium had a more positive feel than the Halifax game.

A full debut for another former Spireite, Sam Hid, was among four changes for AFC from last week’s turgid draw against the Shaymen, as he came in for club captain Josh Granite.

There were also starting places for Josh Kay, Rhys Turner and Molyneux, who replaced John Rooney, Luke Burgess and Rhys Norrington-Davies, respectively.

Barrow had a let-off in just the third minute when Jerome Binnom-Williams sent in a terrific ball in from the left, only for Joe Shaw to make a hash of his header, which went harmlessly wide.

It wasn’t the only opening Chesterfield had in the early stages, with the hosts getting in behind down either flank just a little too easily.

One such instance saw veteran striker Marc-Antoine Fortune get away from Hird, but he delayed his shot just a fraction too long, allowing Joel Dixon to come out and make a good smothering save.

Jacob Blyth had the Bluebirds’ first real effort of note halfway through the first half from just outside the box, but it was comfortably fielded by Chesterfield ‘keeper Shwan Jalal.

Fortune’s missed chance seemed to increase nerves in the home side and with Barrow hardly clicking themselves, the remainder of the half really was a tough watch.

The sight of Turner getting what wasn’t a difficult through ball for Dior Angus badly wrong despite having plenty of time and space only served to sum up how disjointed the visitors were before the break.

The Spireites weren’t having much luck with injuries, losing Fortune and Bradley Barry to strains either side of half-time.

Unfortunately, anyone hoping the interval would bring about an increase in quality was out of luck as well, as both teams struggled to find any cohesion.

Angus tried his luck from outside the area, but it was nothing that ever looked like troubling Jalal before Barrow somehow survived an almighty scramble in their penalty area.

A cross from the right from Shaw on the hour mark caused havoc, with sub Tom Denton unable to convert before Alex Kiwomya’s eventual header was nodded off the line by Hird.

A foul on Jason Taylor then allowed Evatt to bring on Rooney and Jack Hindle for Kay and Turner, hoping a revamped attack would prove to be more productive.

It almost worked inside four minutes, as Hindle helped the ball inside for Blyth, who took an age to get the ball out of his feet before his shot was blocked by a defender.

The changes had really woken AFC up, and they should have taken the lead with 12 minutes left when an unmarked Dan Jones met Rooney’s corner at the back post, only to head wide.

But they were forced to play the final seven minutes with ten men after Molyneux picked up a foolish second yellow card for a late tackle on Shaw.

However, their depleted numbers held on for a hard-earned point fairly comfortably.

Chesterfield (4-2-3-1): Jalal, Barry (Rowley 48), Evans, Hollis, Binnom-Williams, Smith, Weir, Shaw, Weston, Kiwomya (Reid 74), Fortune (Denton 39)

Subs not used: Beestin, Anyon

Barrow AFC (3-4-1-2): Dixon, Hird, Elsdon, Jones, Barthram, Taylor, Kay (Rooney 61), Molyneux, Turner (Hindle 61), Blyth (Brown 88), Angus

Subs not used: Wade, Granite

Referee: Tom Reeves

Attendance: 4,626 (279 away)