Barrow AFC 1 Hartlepool United 0

Josh Kay’s late contender for goal of the season ensured Barrow AFC came out on top in their final home game of the campaign, as they deservedly defeated Hartlepool United.

On a day where 1,140 visiting fans, many of them dressed as knights, invaded Holker Street, it was the home majority in a fantastic crowd of 3,007 – Barrow’s biggest league attendance for 20 years – who had the most to cheer.

It’s been well documented that the Bluebirds haven’t picked up enough victories on their own patch in the last six months, but they picked a great time to produce one of their best performances.

It was ultimately rewarded by Kay’s sensational overhead kick in the 28th minute, which came just a minute after he had come on for the injured Dior Angus.

Quite how that turned out to be the only goal of the game is anyone’s guess, as AFC had a multitude of chances to give the scoreline a better reflection of the game, with Pools barely threatening themselves.

Barrow made two changes from their draw at Maidenhead United on Good Friday, as right-back Connor Brown and striker Angus came in for Kay and Kyle Jameson, with the formation shifted to 4-3-3.

The Bluebirds should have been ahead in the second minute, as Lewis Hardcastle’s fine pass put Jamie Philpot in behind and after his shot had crashed off the post, Jack Hindle somehow couldn’t get the rebound on target.

It was part of a very bright start from the hosts, with Hartlepool defender David Edgar doing well to cut out Hindle’s dangerous cut-back, with Philpot loitering with intent behind him.

Another big chance then followed after 14 minutes, as John Rooney’s ball over the top played in Hindle, whose shot was tipped over by Pools ‘keeper Scott Loach at his near post.

Unfortunately, Angus’ first start in six weeks only last 27 minutes, as he was forced off after sustaining a knock early on. However, his replacement had the most sensational of immediate impacts.

The ball was chipped into the area from Brown and there was Kay at the far post to produce a breath-taking overhead kick that flew into the top corner with what was, incredibly, his first touch.

Rooney then almost had a belting goal for himself when his strike from the edge of the area beat Loach all ends up, only for Nicky Featherstone to head it off the line.

The chances kept coming for Barrow, as Jason Taylor slid in Hindle down the left, with the forward running inside before being denied again from Loach, as his ignored Philpot in the middle.

The only issue for the Bluebirds after what was a very good first half was that they weren’t in front by more at the end of the first 45 minutes.

They were almost pegged back three minutes into the second half, when Liam Noble pulled a free kick back for Luke Molyneux, who dragged his shot not far wide.

Loach then kept Hartlepool in the picture again by keeping out Kay’s effort with his foot, after the wide man had brought down Sam Hird’s long ball magnificently.

The visitors were posing more of a threat now and came close to an equaliser when Edgar’s powerful header from Noble’s corner was thankfully straight at Joel Dixon.

It looked for all the world that AFC would finally put some clear daylight between themselves and Pools when Hindle got away down the right, but Kay couldn’t quite reach his ball across goal.

Somehow, the match was still alive, however, with Loach frustrating the Bluebirds again with five minutes left, as he just about tipped Hindle’s shot on the turn around the post.

In all honesty, it would have been daylight robbery if Hartlepool had snuck a point at the end, but they couldn’t muster a clear-cut chance by the time a huge roar greeted the final whistle.

Barrow AFC (4-3-3): Dixon, Brown, Hird, Granite, Norrington-Davies, Rooney, Taylor, Hardcastle, Philpot, Hindle, Angus (Kay 27)

Subs not used: Elsdon, Barthram, Jameson, Molyneux

Hartlepool United (4-3-3): Loach, Kioso, Kerr, Edgar, Amos (Noble 45), Donaldson, Holohan (Hawkes 69), Featherstone, Molyneux, Kabamba, James (Muir 84)

Subs not used: Anderson, Bale

Referee: Rebecca Welch

Attendance: 3,007