Barrow AFC 2 Aldershot Town 1

Those who have attended Barrow AFC’s two home games this week can’t complain at a lack of entertainment and this time they were able to celebrate a victory, but only just.

In fact, John Rooney’s penalty was virtually the last kick of what was a breathless finish, as the Bluebirds snuck home against an Aldershot Town side who had been the better team for long periods of the second half.

However, Ian Evatt’s side have had plenty of occasions where they feel their performances haven’t got the rewards they deserved, so they won’t complain about the boot being on the other foot for once.

Hats off to Rooney as well. Back in September, the midfielder blazed over in a similar situation against Solihull Moors, but in the sixth minute of stoppage time, there was no mistake this time.

All this after Josh Kay had missed tamely from the spot around ten minutes earlier, but after playing so well in defeat against Leyton Orient in defeat on Tuesday, this instead was an ‘ugly’ win.

There were four changes from midweek, which included the return from suspension of defender Sam Hird and midfielder Jason Taylor, who was back in as captain.

They came in for Kyle Jameson and Steve Jennings, while Rhys Turner and Jack Barthram replaced Jacob Blyth and Lee Molyneux, respectively.

The first opening for Barrow came in the 16th minute when Rooney whipped a free kick from 25 yards wide, following some very good work from Taylor.

The Shots then had a glorious chance to take a shock lead when Luke Howell’s superb long pass put Bernard Mensah in behind Barthram, but he shot wildly over the top.

The Bluebirds made the most of this profligacy by taking the lead themselves just a minute later, as Lewis Hardcastle sent in a superb cross from the right that gave Dior Angus the simple task of nodding in from close range.

The visitors continued to threaten on the break, however, as John Goddard teed the ball up for Ryan Booty, who fizzed a low effort from just outside the box wide of the near post.

But Barrow finished the first half strongly and should have doubled their lead when a lovely ball over the top played in the charging Dan Jones, who blasted off target when through one-on-one with Jake Cole.

Hardcastle then almost produced something very special when, seeing Cole was slightly off his line, lobbed a free kick from 35 yards over, with the ball bouncing off the top of the bar.

But they didn’t start the second half as sharply and they were let off the hook again after 54 minutes when Mensah played the ball to Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong, who slipped as he scuffed his shot wide.

AFC were punished for not adding to their lead during their good spell, though, when Adam McDonnell drew Aldershot level with a well-placed low shot from the edge of the area that nestled in the bottom corner.

The midfielder then had the chance to turn the game on its head after some careless play from Jones, but fortunately his shot kept on rising.

This was another afternoon, however, where Barrow suffered defensive injuries, with Hird limping off after Connor Brown had earlier been forced from the field.

The Bluebirds finally rallied in the closing stages and with five minutes to go, we saw what Evatt believes is an all too rare thing this season: a penalty awarded to the home side.

It came when Kay was bundled over by Alex Finney just inside the area, but the winger, having dusted himself down, struck a poor spot kick that was comfortably saved by Cole.

But that wasn’t the end of the drama, as deep into added time, Jones’ flick from Rooney’s corner came off an Aldershot arm and the referee pointed to penalty spot again.

Step up Rooney, who this time held his nerve by smashing it down the middle, much to the relief of the majority in the ground.

Barrow AFC (4-3-3): Dixon, Barthram, Hird (Jennings 67), Jones, Brown (Jameson 36), Rooney, Taylor, Hardcastle, Kay, Turner (Hindle 68), Angus

Subs not used: Blyth, Burgess

Aldershot Town (4-3-3): Cole, Bernard, Menayese, Elokobi, Finney, Howell, McDonnell (Gallagher 83), Booty, Berkeley-Agyepong (McDonagh 71), Mensah, Goddard (Fenelon)

Subs not used: Lelan, Hall

Referee: Gareth Rhodes

Attendance: 1,156