Torquay United 3 (McGinty 52, Dowling 56, Young 66) Barrow AFC 1 (Harrison 74pen)

BARROW’S National League survival hopes remain in the balance after they slipped to defeat against fellow strugglers Torquay United.

Three second-half goals, which came in the space of 14 minutes from Sean McGinty, George Dowling and Luke Young, gave Torquay an unassailable lead that the Bluebirds were unable to overturn.

Barrow did manage a 74th-minute penalty from substitute Byron Harrison. However, it proved to be merely a consolation as the Bluebirds suffered their first loss against the Gulls since March 2009, and also saw their seven-match unbeaten away run come to an abrupt end.

Ady Pennock made eight changes to the side that exited the FA Trophy at the hands of Brackley Town two-and-a-half weeks ago – with two postponements since then ensuring a long break. He handed debuts to goalkeeper Steve Arnold and striker Luke James, as well as new loan signing Ollie Cook, the young defender who recently joined from Premier League side Southampton.

The Gulls started the stronger, in a game played on a bobbly pitch in windy conditions, as Conrad Balatoni nodded a free-kick from Young into the arms of Arnold in the opening minute.

Three minutes later, Torquay won the first corner of the match which was taken by Young and found United skipper McGinty, who flashed a header wide of the left-hand post as the Bluebirds survived an early scare.

Barrow’s first real goal-scoring opportunity fell to player/coach Grant Holt on eight minutes, when he nodded a cross from Jack Barthram wide.

In the 12th minute, skipper Asa Hall found himself in a dangerous shooting position for the Bluebirds, but his eventual effort was blocked by the Gulls defence.

Brett Williams – who scored for the hosts in the corresponding fixture between the two sides last season – went close on 36 minutes with an overhead kick following a Liam Davis cross, which his former Forest Green team-mate Arnold, in the Barrow goal, managed to smother.

The game sprang to life early in the second half when McGinty was denied by a one-handed save from Arnold, as he turned his headed effort around the post for a corner.

From the following flag kick from Young, Gulls defender Josh Gowling flicked the ball into the path of McGinty, who got the final touch as he nodded home his third goal of the season.

Four minutes later, Torquay doubled their advantage when Dowling created space for himself inside the penalty area before finding the back of the net with a powerful drive into the bottom corner.

These two efforts gave Barrow a mountain to climb and prompted Pennock into making his first change of the afternoon.

But the Gulls extended their lead to three in the 66th minute when Young tapped home a Michee Efete cross, following a superb flowing move, to score his fifth of the campaign.

Five minutes later, Pennock decided to shuffle his pack again with one final throw of the dice as he made a double substitution, which saw Harrison and Jordan White enter the fray in place of Chris Humphrey and Holt as the Bluebirds went with three players up front.

The introduction of Harrison gave Barrow a different dimension going forward, and on 74 minutes, when referee Carl Brook pointed to the penalty spot after he had adjudged Gowling to have felled Luke James, he stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick and sent Torquay keeper Vincent Dorel the wrong way to pull a goal back.

However, despite a spell of late pressure, AFC were unable to add to their tally against a Gulls’ side who moved off the bottom of the table thanks to the result, above a Guiseley side beaten 2-0 at home by Wrexham.

AFC remain a single point and place above the relegation zone, as many of their rivals were not in action, but have used up one of their games in hand.


Torquay United (3-5-2): Vincent Dorel; Conrad Balatoni, Josh Gowling, Sean McGinty; Michee Efete, Luke Young, Aaron Barnes. George Dowling (Connor Lemonheigh-Evans 78), Liam Davis; Brett Williams, Elliot Romain (Jamie Reid 87).

Substitutes Not Used: Ruairi Keating, Jake Gosling, Neal Osborn.

Barrow AFC (4-4-2): Steve Arnold 7; Jack Barthram 6, Moussa Diarra 7, Ollie Cook 6, Dan Jones 7; Chris Humphrey 6 (Jordan White 71 6), Asa Hall 7, Bedsente Gomis 6, Harry Panayiotou 6 (Bradley Bauress 65 6); Luke James 6, Grant Holt 5 (Byron Harrison 71 7).

Substitutes Not Used: Joel Dixon, Tony Diagne.

Yellow Cards: Hall (12), Barthram (24), Gomis (45), Cook (88).

Referee: Carl Brook.

Attendance: 1,553 (53 from Barrow).

Barrow Star Man: Asa Hall: The Bluebirds’ skipper was a commanding presence in the centre of Barrow’s midfield.