Wrexham 2 Barrow AFC 1

Habits old and new reared their heads as Barrow AFC couldn't maintain their first-half form, with Wrexham storming back to defeat them on the opening day of the new season.

To echo manager Ian Evatt's post-match sentiments, it's a sign of the Bluebirds' progression that they are extremely annoyed with how they managed to let this match, and the result, at the Racecourse Ground slip away.

Their first half in North Wales didn't quite match the heights they reached in the equivalent fixture last season, but they were still the better side and deservedly led through captain Josh Granite's first goal for the club.

AFC picked up their first victory at this venue since December 1953 back in March when they stormed (if you pardon the pun, given the weather that night) into a 3-0 lead by half-time, and they could have easily gone into the changing room at the break with the same advantage.

That they didn't was down to the old habit of not making the most of their good spells in matches and the more recent pattern, that they really need to kick sooner rather than later, led to them paying dearly in the second half.

During pre-season, Barrow tended to produce one good half followed by one iffy half and this was carried on into the campaign, as the Dragons took control after the break. In the end, it led to Evatt and his players having to mull over one that got away against one of the sides expected to be challenging for promotion in the National League this season. Again, nicer problems to have.

Going with recurring themes, there was a close similarity to the way the Bluebirds went ahead with their last match here, as it came from a set-piece which led to a rare goal from a defender.

Lewis Hardcastle's free kick from the left couldn't have been whipped into a better area, as AFC players queued up in the centre, with Granite only needing to glance it on to find the net.

The previous week, Evatt had called upon his defenders to chip in more in the other penalty area - only two goals were scored last season by those whose main job is to prevent them - so in that sense, he got the response he wanted.

He largely got the performance he was after for the remainder of the half, but he couldn't hide his frustration as two huge chances were spurned before the break.

The first came after a lung-bursting break from Patrick Brough, who ran from box to box before setting up Dior Angus, who should have buried his chance, while Scott Quigley then miscued after Mark Carrington's last-ditch challenge on Josh Kay fell his way.

It took a little over two minutes for AFC to be pegged back after the break, as JJ Hooper headed in after Luke Summerfield's free kick was helped back across by James Jennings.

Hooper went on to run Barrow's defence ragged in the second half and it was he who set up what turned out to be Wrexham's winner, as he held off Granite before his hanging cross was nodded in from close range by Bobby Grant.

Barring a shot just wide from Angus, the Bluebirds rarely looked like equalising and will now look to get themselves off the mark at the second time of asking when Harrogate Town visit Holker Street tomorrow night.

Wrexham (4-2-3-1): Dibble, Carrington, Pearson, Lawlor, Jennings, Summerfield, Young, Grant, Redmond (Rutherford 76), Harris (McIntosh 86), Hooper (Oswell 90+4)

Subs not used: Szczepaniak, Chambers.

Barrow AFC (4-3-3): Dixon, Barry, Hird, Granite, Brough, Rooney, Taylor, Hardcastle (Greaves 67), Angus, Quigley (Harrison 67), Kay (Hindle 71).

Subs not used: Brown, Dyson.

Referee: Rick Hulme

Attendance: 5,941 (283 away)