SHAW LANE AFC 2 (Harris 10, Reeves 76) BARROW AFC 1 (Harrison 46pen)

BARROW AFC’s difficult and disappointing season got even worse in South Yorkshire.

Eight games without a win, dangling above the National League relegation zone, and now out of the FA Cup after an insipid effort at Shaw Lane.

The Bluebirds looked every bit the Northern Premier League team, while their opponents played more like they belong in the top tier of non-league, and there only ever looked like being one winner.

The Ducks deserve full credit for their efforts – and for two well-taken goals – but as good as they were, Barrow were poor.

AFC were non-entities in the first half, and when handed a lifeline soon after the break through Byron Harrison’s penalty, they spurned it, crashed and burned.

Micky Moore will know he has to do better, he will know such results do his own future in post no favours, he will know it all the more so as owner Paul Casson was there at Sheerien Park to watch and was clearly unhappy with what he saw.

Moore shuffled his pack only a little from the side who looked impressive in the 2-2 home draw against Leyton Orient the previous weekend.

Liam Hughes – who had been in a three-man central defence with Tony Diagne and Jordon Thompson – was dropped from the squad, with Bradley Bauress promoted from the bench to a three-man front-line alongside Jordan White and Byron Harrison.

That meant a switch from a 3-5-2 formation to a more attacking 4-3-3, with Adi Yussuf back on the bench as another option up-front after a month out with a hamstring injury.

As was to be the case for long stretches of the match, the hosts started well and applied the pressure with some good attacks down the wing through Alex Byrne.

It was Byrne’s corners which proved to be a real weapon in the Ducks’ arsenal, the first met by an overhead kick at the near post by Paul Clayton, an effort plucked from the air by Joel Dixon.

Having so nearly enjoyed success with that effort, they tried again minutes later, with Byrne’s kick finding the unmarked run of Spencer Harris at the near post, as he headed across goal and into the far bottom corner to give the Ducks the lead.

Barrow did not seem to learn the lesson and a further Byrne corner only just cleared the head of Clayton in the middle of the area, as Shaw Lane looked more composed and more threatening all-round.

Barrow had few in the way of chances in the half, with Byron Harrison heading a too-deep Bradley Bauress cross over the bar with one of the few.

Byrne now turned his attention to long-range free-kicks in the middle of the park – the first was well off-target, while the second at least forced a save from Dixon as he moved across his goal to collect.

Jack Barthram was looking for a way through down the right for Barrow, but when he eventually found it, his cross was over the top of everyone and landed in no-man’s land.

Bauress did find Jordan White with a ball from the right, but the striker was under a lot of pressure and his scrambled shot was easily saved by his near post by Jon Stewart.

There were shouts for a Bluebirds penalty when Jimmy Dunne went to ground in the area under the physical challenge of Clayton, but it was the home man awarded a free-kick instead – referee Peter Gibbons continuing to infuriate the travelling support when he missed Harrison being pulled back by the shorts as he ran towards the area.

White could not connect with another Bauress ball, though the half ended with a nervous moment for the home side as Kalvin Lugsden glanced a header just wide of his own goal from a Bauress cross.

Barrow needed a lifeline and a change early in the second half, and they were handed a golden opportunity when Clements was bundled to the ground in the area and Mr Gibbons pointed to the spot.

Harrison was the man to step up, and he calmly slotted past Stewart and into the back of the net.

That should have been the signal for the match to be turned around, but AFC spurned their chance.

There were occasional openings, with White glancing a Paul Bignot cross wide across the face of goal, but the hosts were still in the hunt as well.

Byrne had a free-kick which eluded everyone and bounced just across the face of goal, while Barthram shot over at the other end.

The Bluebirds were gaining a sense of the ascendancy, but they lost it in an instant and they failed to properly deal with a throw into their area, and the ball came back in once more.

It was lifted over to Damian Reeves, who controlled superbly and fired into the top corner. Panic stations.

Adi Yussuf came off the bench and had a couple of chances – turning and firing over, then weaving through a clutch of defenders but finding no support.

A flurry of opportunities followed for the Bluebirds.

First Harrison’s header at the back post was deflected wide, then White’s header from the follow-up corner was battered away by Stewart, who then clawed away another White header from the next corner, with Bignot slashing wide from the follow-up.

There were no more chances for Barrow, who only had further angst as Dunne saw red for a two-footed lunge on Godwin Abadaki in injury-time.

That added insult to injury for the AFC fans, several of whom had some hard words for their owner as they left the ground.

If things don’t turn a corner soon, there will be a lot more of those from a whole host of people.

Shaw Lane: Jon Stewart, Neil Austin, Ryan Serrant (Cameron Hough 89), Kieron Lugsden, Kelvin Lugsden, Ryan Qualter, Alex Byrne, Spencer Harris, Paul Clayton, Damian Reeves (Godwin Abadaki 83), Nicky Walker (Sam Osborne 90).

Substitutes Not Used: Chib Chilaka, Sam Jepson.

Yellow Cards: Clayton (37).

Barrow AFC: Joel Dixon 6, Jack Barthram 5, Tony Diagne 4, Jimmy Dunne 3, Jordon Thompson 4, Alex-Ray Harvey 5, Bedsente Gomis 5 (Adi Yussuf 76), Chris Clements 5, Jordan White 6, Bradley Bauress 6 (Paul Bignot h/t 6), Byron Harrison 6.

Substitutes Not Used: Stuart Moore, Asa Hall, Harry Panayiotou, Donovan Makoma.

Yellow Cards: Clements (58).

Red Cards: Dunne (90).

Referee: Peter Gibbons.

Attendance: 864.

Next Game: Ebbsfleet United v Barrow AFC, National League, Saturday, 3pm.


BYRON HARRISON: On an awful day, the forwards stuck at it and tried their best.