BARROW AFC 1 (Diarra 2) WREXHAM 1 (Pearson 25)

MOUSSA Diarra is a man in goal-scoring form – but his second in as many games could not see Barrow to three points at Holker Street.

For the second game in succession, he scored the opener, but whereas the Bluebirds took the win at Woking, here they had to settle for a point against high-flying Wrexham.

They could point to a Diarra header cleared off the line, calls for a clear-cut penalty for handball being waved away by referee Peter Wright and other near-misses, but the draw was probably the fair result.

Even so, this was so much better than all the recent home games that had ended in defeat, and they will carry confidence they can end that two-month wait for a home victory when Solihull Moors come to town on Saturday. After all, it had been five hours of action since their last home goal.

Manager Ady Pennock was forced to make a number of changes to his side for the visit of the Welshmen.

Loan winger Lewis Walters was hurt in the weekend’s win at Woking and missed out, as did fellow wideman Bradley Bauress, who has a knee problem.

Illness ruled out captain Asa Hall and goalkeeper Stuart Moore, with Donovan Makoma and Paul Bignot coming into the starting line-up having missed the trip to Surrey.

Just as he had at Woking three days earlier, Diarra made an early impact.

It was a long Dan Jones throw-in from the left which was poorly dealt with by the Wrexham defence, coming back out to the AFC winger, whose cross back in came to the feet of the Frenchman.

He had his back to goal, but kept his composure, turned and fired into the top corner.

A second-minute opener for the second game in succession and Diarra was rocking the baby in front of the jubilant Holker Street faithful.

Another Frenchman, Makoma, was lively in the centre of the park, and not afraid to try his luck, with one effort from 20 yards clipping the back of a Wrexham man and flying just past the post.

Jones put the corner in and Diarra made space to meet it with a goal-bound header cleared off the line by Marcus Kelly.

Wrexham came into the game, with George Miller going down too easily and having penalty appeals waved away, before a quick break ended with another Makoma effort deflected behind for a corner.

The visitors made more in-roads and forced a series of corners, with former Bluebird Paul Rutherford delivering them. One came back to him and he found the feet of Shaun Pearson, who shot tamely at Joel Dixon, another went into the middle of the area, where Pearson was given a free run and powered a header into the centre of the goal past the Barrow keeper.

It went end-to-end for the remainder of the half, Jones trying his luck from 40 yards out on the left touchline, but seeing Chris Dunn pluck the ball from the air, and Diarra meeting another corner to head just wide of the far post under pressure.

Chris Holroyd hit a long-range effort at Dixon and the sides went in level at the break.

The second half swung to and fro throughout – though Wrexham shut down and accepted a point long before the finish.

Barrow started better, then were counting their blessings when Joel Dixon spilled a deep cross at his far post and needed Bignot to make a key intervention and dispel the danger.

It was back to AFC being on top and Diarra started a fast break from close to his own area.

He made it past halfway and played to Makoma, taking the ball back inside the Wrexham area. On he ran to the byline, from where he put in a cross towards Byron Harrison, only for Kevin Roberts to get in the way, raising an arm and blocking the ball.

Everyone called for a penalty, but miraculously referee Mr Wright waved it away. It was baffling.

Another break ended with Jones unable to control on the edge of the area, while Rutherford headed wide from a corner for the visitors.

Wrexham spent the closing stages happy to waste time and run the clock down – Pearson suffering from a multitude of injuries in the space of a couple of minutes, each requiring extensive treatment.

There was one final chance deep into injury time as a break saw Jack Barthram play in Adi Yussuf on the 18-yard line, but he shot off target as the final whistle blew.

There are many positives to take going forward for Pennock, most immediately into the visit of Solihull in three days’ time.


Barrow AFC: Joel Dixon 6, Paul Bignot 7, Calum Macdonald 7, Jimmy Dunne 8, Moussa Diarra 9, Jack Barthram 7, Donovan Makoma 7 (Adi Yussuf 76), Bedsente Gomis 6, Grant Holt 6 (Tony Diagne 76), Byron Harrison 6 (Jordan White 88), Dan Jones 7. Substitutes Not Used: Thierry Audel, Harry Panayiotou.

Wrexham (4-4-2): Chris Dunn, James Jennings, Kevin Roberts, Manny Smith, Shaun Pearson, Marcus Kelly (Jack Mackreth 84), Mark Carrington, Sam Wedgbury, Chris Holroyd, George Miller (Ntumba Massanka 88), Paul Rutherford. Substitutes Not Used: Christian Dibble, James Hurst, Leo Smith.

Yellow Cards: Wedgbury (90).

Referee: Peter Wright.

Attendance: 1,648 (258 from Wrexham).

STAR MAN Moussa Diarra: He was everywhere on the field, scoring goals, making tackles, going on amazing runs. A real handful across the park.