BARROW AFC continue to fight hard against National League relegation, after they took three points for the first time since December 23, and at the same time ensured Maidstone United’s National League winless run stretched to 15 matches.

The Bluebirds followed up Tuesday’s decent point against Sutton United with a sound display against the Stones to climb to 19th in the table through Luke James’s goal.

They were somewhat helped by Maidstone’s poor showing in front of goal, as the home side failed to seriously test Steve Arnold in goal.

This was another decent away performance from the visitors, whose victory was all the more essential as relegation rivals Chester, Solihull and Hartlepool all won on Saturday as well.

Barrow have one of the best recent travelling records in the league, having recorded victory in five of their last seven matches away from Holker Street.

If they continue to be as assured as they were against the Stones, they should be able to pull away from the relegation zone.

AFC did have to withstand plenty of possession from the home side throughout, and it was Maidstone who looked the more likely to score early on.

On six minutes, Ross Lafayette was brought down midway inside the Bluebirds’ half. The free-kick into the box eventually found Jamar Loza, whose shot was on target but it was cleared by the Barrow defence.

Maidstone then went even closer. Josh Hare crossed from the right, Loza flicked the ball on, and it came to Lafayette, who saw his header clear the bar.

It was not long before Barrow created their first opportunity of the afternoon.

Hare conceded possession to James, who sent the ball into the box towards the stretching Jordan White. Although White got his foot to it, he was unable to guide his effort past Lee Worgan, who had rushed off his line to close down the striker.

For the Stones, Loza twisted and turned into space before dragging a low effort just past the right post, before Barrow took the lead on 31 minutes.

A long kick downfield from Arnold was not dealt with by a Maidstone defence that has found it impossible to keep clean sheets recently, and James found himself running into the area before dispatching a fine finish in off the left-hand post.

Not long past the hour, Blair Turgott’s run fizzled out in the box.

The Bluebirds broke quickly through Bedsente Gomis, but Magnus Okuonghae did well to force him wide and then Stuart Lewis followed up with a second block.

From the corner, Dan Jones picked out the unmarked James, who drew a smart save from Worgan, and then play swung to the other end where the Stones were awarded a corner. This one was played in by Turgott and it reached Hare, who was in a good position inside the box but headed over.

Although Maidstone were enjoying a reasonable amount of possession, they did not really appear threatening when in front of goal, and it was Barrow who looked like they might add a second when they did attack.

With just two minutes remaining, Gomis moved into a central position just outside the box and struck a low shot which threatened to creep inside the post, but he was denied by Worgan who dived to make the save.

Having looked defensively assured for the vast majority of the game, there was then a scare for AFC in stoppage time at the end of the match.

Maidstone manager Jay Saunders threw on new loan signing Will De Havilland, and the defender’s first contribution was to chip the ball into Alex Wynter, who was inside the six-yard box but the centre half could only poke the ball wide from close range.

The Bluebirds held on for the deserved three points, moving above Halifax in the table as a positive step forward.


Maidstone United (4-3-3): Lee Worgan, Josh Hare, Alex Wynter, Magnus Okuonghae (Will De Havilland 90), Joe Anderson, Jack Paxman, Stuart Lewis, Jai Reason (Delano Sam-Yorke 72), Jamar Loza, Ross Lafayette, Blair Turgott.

Substitutes not used: Reece Prestedge, Darius Osei, Seth Nana Twumasi.

Yellow Cards: Lafayette.

Barrow (4-4-2): Steve Arnold 6, Jack Barthram 6, Moussa Diarra 7, Ollie Cook 6, Callum MacDonald 6, Jordan White 6 (Chris Humphrey 58 6), Asa Hall 6, Bedsente Gomis 7, Dan Jones 7 (Kingsley James 67 6), Grant Holt 6, LUKE JAMES 8 (Bradley Bauress 77 6).

Substitutes not used: Thierry Audel, Harry Panayiotou.

Yellow Cards: Holt, Bauress.

Referee: Thomas Bramall.

Attendance: 2,338 (89 Barrow supporters).


Luke James: Took the one clear chance that either side created and finished with aplomb.

Next game: Barrow AFC v Gateshead, tomorrow, 7.45pm kick-off.