BEFORE Saturday’s clash Darren Edmondson outlined his concern about Barrow’s lack of potency in front of goal.

And the need for the Bluebirds boss to solve this debilitating problem became more urgent after his side fired blanks at Altrincham, where master finisher Damian Reeves pounced to condemn the visitors to their fifth away defeat of the campaign.

Not for the first time this season, AFC failed to capitalise on their superior play and prolonged periods of dominance, which delivered numerous chances at Moss Lane.

They can count themselves unfortunate too, after twice hitting the woodwork.

Edmondson’s men were also thwarted by ex-Bluebirds keeper Tim Deasy, who produced an eye-catching display.

But in this brutal results-based business, Edmondson will be well aware that continued hard-luck stories won’t ultimately wash.

The return of talented winger Dan Pilkington – who made his comeback from a hamstring injury on Saturday – and striker Anthony Wilson should help the manager’s cause.

There were a few good midfield performances to enjoy at Alty, including from engine-room operator Niall Cowperthwaite, but an injection of greater creativity from the likes of Alex-Ray Harvey could help matters.

And then there is Barrow’s ‘missing’ contingent. Striker Ashley Grimes and forgotten central midfield duo David Mellor and Mo Fofana – with the latter two players once again not even making it into AFC’s 16-man squad – must make their presence felt.

After all, these players were drafted in during the summer to strengthen AFC’s ranks, not sit on the sidelines or in the stand, and there is certainly a need to ensure they are viable starting options again.

Only a tweak or two may be required, although the problem could be more profound. Either way, Edmondson must find a way of getting more from his attacking talents – a formula that results in more goals, not near-misses – and ensure Barrow are not too over-reliant on leading scorer Andy Cook.

Pilkington replaced Benjamin van den Broek in the side.

Barrow’s commitment and willingness to attack could not be faulted. They started well and, on three minutes, Danny Livesey met a corner but his header was kept out by Deasy. Soon after, the defender nodded off target.

Cook controlled Cowperthwaite’s clipped-in cross but Andy Haworth got in his way just as he was about to pull the trigger. The striker growled with frustration. With AFC on top, Haworth failed to find the net with two efforts.

Jason Walker’s cut-back to Cook was intercepted by Scott Leather in the 23rd minute, before Alty enjoyed one of their bright spells. Gianluca Havern connected with Jordan Sinnott’s excellent delivery but, from a tight angle, he could not steer his effort on target.

Ryan Crowther crossed to Reeves whose angled attempt was kept out by Joel Dixon’s superb save, before Dave Symington and Jake Moult traded long-range drives.

Barrow finished the half in a strong fashion. On 39 minutes, Cook let fly with Deasy appearing to get his finger-tips to his shot, diverting it on to the post. Three minutes later, Cowperthwaite got on the end of a corner, sending his header against the bar.

Five minutes after the break, Crowther burst forward but Livesey’s tackle halted his run.

AFC held the upper hand once more as Cowperthwaite misfired and Deasy parried away Pilkington’s low 20-yard effort on 57 minutes.

The sucker punch arrived on 61 minutes when Reeves bagged his first goal of the campaign. Intelligent operator James Lawrie played the ball on to the striker who calmly swept it past Dixon, with Alty netting against the run of play.

Pilkington and Cook wasted half chances before Reeves’ poor square pass was cut out by Symington at the other end.

Edmondson went for broke, sending on Wilson and Harvey on 71 minutes, which meant AFC’s formation switched to 4-2-4 when they attacked. The chances kept on coming.

Walker’s volley was deflected over the bar, before Haworth’s 83rd-minute shot also came off an Alty man and went to safety. Deasy came to the fore again by getting down to repel Cowperthwaite’s strike before the midfielder’s follow-up was blocked.

Another Cowperthwaite shot was deflected off target on 86 minutes, before Neil Ashton’s challenge prevented George Bowerman from having a clear run to goal.

Grand headed wide with two minutes of the 90 remaining, and Barrow slumped to defeat.

It was a hard pill for them to swallow, but a positive result against visitors Chester tomorrow and also at Bromley on Saturday will provide the best medicine.