BARROW AFC 0 BRACKLEY 2 (Williams 41, Armson 63)

IT was another miserable night at Holker Street.

Barrow AFC crashed out of the FA Trophy in front of a crowd of just 430 – the lowest they have ever attracted at home at this stage of the competition – though most of them had gone home long before the finish.

Maybe those who stayed at home knew what was coming – a night when the Bluebirds were woeful, did nothing right, and fully deserved to exit the competition.

They could barely string five passes together, could not cope with the conditions – wind, rain and hail – and were outclassed by lower-league opponents.

Manager Ady Pennock kept his players out on the field after the game long after those supporters who stayed the course had gone home, it was obvious he was not happy.

This is now a season where the only thing left to fight for is to avoid relegation. They will need to do far, far better than this if National League North is not to come calling once more.

Pennock chose to make four changes to the side held to a stalemate in Northamptonshire, starting with a 5-4-1 formation that was to leave lone striker Jordan White isolated up front for long early spells.

Paul Bignot and Tony Diagne came into the defence, with Bradley Bauress and Harry Panayiotou on the wings, as Jack Barthram, new boy Chris Humphrey, Byron Harrison and Dan Jones dropped out – the latter not even in the match-day squad.

It was a formation which did not seem to settle, with White often heading long balls down and finding no-one in support, while it was all-too crowded in the middle of the park.

The visitors were on the front-foot at the start, though they too had no cutting edge and were kept at bay easily by Thierry Audel and Moussa Diarra in the heart of the AFC defence.

A good chance to break the deadlock fell to the hosts with their first opening, as Bauress – whose runs down the wing were one of the few bright spots in the opening 45 minutes – delivered a free-kick to the back post, where Diagne ran in unmarked and headed well over.

Another opening came from a short corner routine between Panayiotou and Bedsente Gomis, the latter’s low ball to the near post almost diverted into his own goal by Lee Ndlovu.

Panayiotou’s swerving effort from 20 yards was beaten away by Lewis, White had an effort deflected wide after a good cross from Donovan Makoma, and there was a goal-line scramble from the resulting corner.

But then Brackley broke and the move ended with Matt Lowe flashing wide across goal from 20 yards.

AFC kept trying their luck from distance, unable to craft too many moves into the area, with Audel, Panayiotou and Bauress all having efforts stopped by Lewis with relative ease.

The inability to craft something was contrasted by the Brackley goal, as Aaron Williams – who did not play in the first tie – beating the offside trap, staying away from Audel and Diarra and rolling the ball past Dixon into the far corner.

There was little atmosphere to begin with, but any that was there quickly escaped the ground and remained outside heading into half-time, with the Bluebirds 45 minutes away from a Trophy exit.

It did not bode well when they gave away a free-kick for failing to kick-off properly on the resumption.

Dixon was made to rush to the edge of his area several times to clear into a headwind as back-passes came his way, and Barrow were battling to find their attacking feet.

Bauress played in Panayiotou in the area, but he took too long and his effort was blocked behind, while Williams lofted over the bar at the other end when in position to give the visitors a two-goal advantage.

A poor pass from defence for Barrow was caught in the wind, and handed Town another chance, with Glenn Walker at the end of the move hitting a soft effort at Dixon.

Chris Humphrey came on for Bauress as Pennock looked to force a change, with Adi Yussuf following soon after for Makoma.

Audel lifted a shot over the bar from a free-kick, but Yussuf made a good first impression as he took the ball on halfway and stormed forward, before shooting over from 20 yards.

That brief feeling of hope was eclipsed as Brackley stormed forward and Walker’s shot was saved low to his left by Dixon onto the post. James Armson was first to react and he touched home the rebound.

A short, sharp hailstorm added to the misery for the Barrow players, with Diarra wrapping his arms around himself as he was pelted – for good reason.

White had a half-opening with 20 minutes remaining, his turning shot saved by Lewis low down, but most of the ball was in the other half.

Into the last 10 minutes, Yussuf continued to be a bright spark for the home side, but his effort from the corner of the area was stopped low down by Lewis, with Brackley now happy to sit back and pump long balls forward.


Barrow AFC: Joel Dixon 4, Paul Bignot 4, Calum Macdonald 4, Thierry Audel 5, Moussa Diarra 5, Tony Diagne 4, Donovan Makoma 4 (Adi Yussuf 60, 7), Bradley Bauress 6 (Chris Humphrey 57, 4), Harry Panayiotou 4, Bedsente Gomis 4, Jordan White 5. Substitutes: Stuart Moore, Byron Harrison, Jack Barthram.

Brackley Town: Danny Lewis, Ellis Myles, Connor Franklin, Shane Byrne, Alex Gudger, Gareth Dean, Glenn Walker, James Armson, Lee Ndlovu, Aaron Williams (Jamie Lucas 90), Matt Lowe. Substitutes: Ben Tilney, Theo Streete, Luke Graham, Alastair Worby.

Referee: Joe Johnson (Liverpool).

Attendance: 430.


Adi Yussuf: He came on for 30 minutes and showed far more spark than anyone else on the field.