Barrow AFC 1


Barrow AFC held their awards night on Sunday, the day before their final home game of the season, against Hartlepool United.

Already, one of the prizes handed out in the Cross Bar has been rendered out of date (sorry Lewis Hardcastle), as Josh Kay came up with what is surely the Bluebirds’ goal of the season to earn the points.

Kay didn’t actually start the match against Pools, but after coming on for the stricken Dior Angus in the 27th minute, he came up with a contender for one of the best first touches seen at a football match.

Barely a minute after stepping from the bench, Kay was sending an overhead kick arrowing into the top corner and rewarding what had been a bright start for AFC.

What was most impressive about this particular game, though, was that they then transformed that into what was arguably their most complete performance of the season.

It was the sort of display they have been aching to produce on their own patch for some time, as they haven’t been able to produce their best football at Holker Street often enough in recent months.

This ended up being the definition of a 1-0 battering, as if Barrow had struck four or five over the course of the afternoon, it would have been a more accurate reflection of the how the match went.

Hartlepool goalkeeper Scott Loach had to make several fine saves to keep his team in contention during the game, not that they were given much of a kick by the Bluebirds.

The tone was set inside two minutes when Jamie Philpot, still searching for that elusive first goal for the club, hit the post after Hardcastle’s pass had put him through.

By the time of Kay’s stunner, you were starting to wonder if this was going to be yet another occasion where Barrow were not going to make the most of their dominance.

The fact that second goal just wouldn’t come – despite John Rooney having a great strike cleared off the line and many other near-misses from crosses – meant that nerves were being shredded by the end.

However, that didn’t transfer itself onto the pitch, as the back four – part of a switch by manager Ian Evatt to 4-3-3 – kept Pools at arm’s length right until the end.

Hartlepool’s fans had more than contributed to what was one of the best atmospheres at Holker Street this season, but their 1,140-strong travelling army of knights had precious little to cheer.

While the number in their contingent was impressive, the home turn-out was superb as well, leading to the highest league gate at the ground for 20 years, as 3,007 came through.

They were certainly entertained, not least by Kay, who went on to have his best display in a Barrow shirt and could have ended up with four goals himself.

He almost had another piece of individual brilliance, as he sublimely controlled Sam Hird’s long ball and sprinted through on goal, only for Loach to stick a foot out and deny him.

As their home campaign comes to an end, the Bluebirds have given themselves a blueprint for next season, in terms of really getting visiting teams on the back foot. Here’s hoping displays like this will feature more regularly then.

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