BARROW AFC 1 (James 18pen) GATESHEAD 1 (Preston 80)

WHAT do Barrow AFC have to do to win at Holker Street?

That is the question everyone must be asking, as they failed to turn dominance and chances into three points against Gateshead.

The Heed were down to 10 men and had been played off the park for the first 45 minutes, and yet Barrow had only a Luke James penalty to show for their efforts.

Just as against Sutton seven days before, one goal was not enough, and just as then, they conceded against the run of play.

The wait is now 116 days. It will be more than four months by the time AFC have the chance to end it with the visit of Eastleigh on March 3.

Kingsley James was handed his first start in the one change to the side which won 1-0 at Maidstone, replacing Jordan White in the AFC XI.

The new man was an impressive presence as he floated in front of the defence and provided extra strength at the back, as well as an outlet for play going forward.

It was up front that Luke James and Grant Holt continued to impress with their attacking combination, well-supported by Bedsente Gomis, who found himself freed up to show his skills with the presence of Kingsley James in the midfield with him.

The threat of those three often saw Gateshead resorting to blatant foul-play, bringing Luke James and Gomis down several times, and lucky to see only Jamal Fyfield and Paddy McLaughlin in the book before the break.

Barrow showed their intent early on, a Dan Jones throw into the area met well by the rising Asa Hall, whose header was deflected behind for a corner. The visitors had their only chance for some time soon after, as Jordan Preston rose unmarked near the spot to head towards the top of the goal, but the impressive Steve Arnold – commanding his area and marshalling his troops well – was up to meet it.

For 40 minutes after that, all the attacking play came from the home side.

Holt came as close as he has since his return to scoring, as Luke James played in a cross to the near post and he rattled an effort off the top of the bar and over.

Luke James was then through into space in the area when Theo Vassell brought him down, with no complaints from the Heed players as referee Joe Johnson pointed to the spot.

James took it himself and, with James Montgomery falling slowly to his left, he slotted it into the opposite bottom corner for his second in as many games.

Barrow continued to threaten, and Gateshead continued to foul – Fyfield booked for bringing down Luke James as he broke towards the area again, McLaughlin for bringing down Gomis as he cut in from the right.

But there was no end product from the set-pieces which resulted, though one scramble did occur towards the end of the half as a visiting defender played the ball against Montgomery but just out of reach from Jack Barthram.

A second goal looked vital, all the more so as McLaughlin shot from the edge of the area towards the bottom corner, and Arnold got down well to save, before Preston shot wide from 18 yards on the stroke of half-time.

Gateshead came out looking dangerous after the break, and suddenly had the Barrow defence on the back-foot, with McLaughlin rising to head just over at the near post and more pressure following.

AFC were handed a helping hand when Fyfield brought down Luke James once too often on the wing and received a second yellow card and his marching orders.

Ollie Cook entered the book for Barrow as he pulled back his man needlessly near halfway, with the game becoming stretched.

Holt was booked too and brought off to prevent it becoming any worse – White back into the action – while a chance for the hosts saw Jones find Hall on the edge of the area, but the skipper’s effort bobbled weakly towards goal and it was an easy save for Montgomery.

Barrow could not take advantage of having the extra man, with Gateshead looking the better side in attack and AFC often defending deep.

Substitute Harry Panayiotou had the chance to put the game to bed as Jones found space thanks to a slip from Callum Williams, but his cross was hard at the feet of his team-mate, who snatched a shot wide.

Luke James went close to a second as he shot low at the near post, with Montgomery getting down low to save, and then the visitors broke and made the home side pay for their profligacy.

A poor defensive header looped into the air 10 yards from the area, and Heed took advantage, with Preston played in and slotting past Arnold into the far bottom corner, just as happened at almost exactly the same moment in the match seven days ago against Sutton.

Barrow did keep pushing forward, and Kingsley James had a 25-yard shot easily saved into the final five minutes, but the 10 men were threatening too and were not settling simply for a point.

Arnold saved his side as he denied Danny Johnson by blocking his low effort at the near post as he had space in the area, with AFC unable to do anything to create a winner their earlier efforts had deserved.


Barrow AFC : Steve Arnold 7, Jack Barthram 6, Calum Macdonald 7, Moussa Diarra 7, Ollie Cook 6, Kingsley James 8, Asa Hall 7, Bedsente Gomis 7 (Harry Panayiotou 66, 6), Grant Holt 7 (Jordan White 62, 6), Luke James 8, Dan Jones 7 (Bradley Bauress 78).

Substitutes Not Used: Tony Diagne, Donovan Makoma.

Yellow Cards: Holt (50), Cook (56), White (68).

Gateshead: James Montgomery, Theo Vassell, Scott Barrow, Jamal Fyfield, Richard Peniket, Jordan Preston, Paddy McLaughlin, Ben Fox (Russ Penn 39), Callum Williams, Lewis McNall (Jordan Burrow h/t), Rees Greenwood (Danny Johnson 66).

Substitutes Not Used: Dan Hanford, Wes York.

Yellow Cards: Fyfield (22, 54), McLaughlin (42), Burrow (70).

Red Cards: Fyfield (54).

Referee: Joe Johnson.

Attendance: 860 (20 from Gateshead).

Next Game: Guiseley v Barrow AFC, Tuesday, February 27, 7.45pm kick-off.

AFC starman: Kingsley James.