Barrow AFC 0 Harrogate Town 3

Harrogate Town’s centre-backs were the scourge of Barrow AFC as they shared the goals between them to ensure the Bluebirds’ first home game of the season ended in misery.

From open play, the Town didn’t create much, but at set-pieces AFC were found sadly wanting as Will Smith helped himself to his first two goals for his new club before Connor Hall rubbed it in late on.

It has left Barrow pointless after two National League games this season that unearthed a weakness that urgently needs fixing.

With so much football still to play, it’s laughable to say the pressure is on, but just for their frame of mind, the Bluebirds will hope to get off the mark at the third time of asking against Eastleigh on Saturday.

Barrow made just one change to their starting line-up from that loss at the Racecourse Ground, with Byron Harrison coming in up front for Scott Quigley.

The squad of 16 was the same as from the weekend, but there was one first, as the Bluebirds finally sported their new home kit, having gone through the whole of pre-season and last Saturday’s campaign opener in their green away shirts.

It’s fair to say neither side really clicked in the early stages as they tried to adapt to the strong wind that was blowing down the pitch from the Holker Street End.

The first big chance came AFC’s way after 18 minutes when Lewis Hardcastle played the ball through for Dior Angus, who was denied by Harrogate ‘keeper James Belshaw before John Rooney’s follow-up was blocked.

After 34 minutes, Barrow’s frailty while defending set-pieces raised its head again as Smith was left unmarked to head in Joe Leesley’s free kick from the right for a soft opener for Harrogate.

The hosts still struggled for fluency, but some good play from Josh Kay led to a good chance to equalise as he produced some nice footwork before an excellent ball found Angus in space.

The wide man drove on before his effort across goal was pushed out by Belshaw, as the Town retained their lead going into half-time.

The Bluebirds began the second half more brightly, with Patrick Brough’s low cross being helped on by Rooney, but the ball was cleared away before it could reach the lurking Harrison.

Another free kick then led to another Harrogate goal, as Joel Dixon got caught underneath Leesley’s ball in, which was helped back across by Brendan Kiernan and Smith had the easiest of finishes for his second.

Smith, a summer signing from Barnsley, was having some evening and he did brilliantly to divert Kay’s low cross away from Quigley, who had replaced Harrison up front.

With frustration building, AFC were trying to force things now, with attacking moves quickly breaking down as a result, while Harrogate were keeping them at arm’s length.

They almost added a third when Kiernan cut inside from the left and bent a shot toward the top corner that was brilliantly tipped away by Dixon. But there was nothing he could do to keep out a looping header by Hall from Kiernan’s corner with four minutes left.

Barrow AFC (4-3-3): Dixon, Barry, Hird, Granite, Brough, Rooney, Taylor, Hardcastle (Greaves 58), Angus, Harrison (Quigley 58), Kay.

Subs not used: Brown, Hindle, Dyson.

Harrogate Town (4-4-2): Belshaw, Burrell, W Smith, Hall, G Smith, Kiernan, Derry, Falkingham, Leesley (Emmett 80), Muldoon (Stead 80), Beck.

Subs not used: Fallowfield, Cracknell, Brown.

Referee: Sam Barrott

Attendance: 1,602