On Pancake Day, we gave up our unbeaten record for Lent. The only batter on view was the battering of the gale force wind and the role of the tosser provided by the referee. Inept and out of his depth. How Barrow escaped without a booking, let alone two sendings off is frankly disgusting. The referee got the majority of the important decisions wrong and the others he was influenced by the home crowd or merely guessed.
That’s not to say on ot another day, Kovacs could have gone for an elbow on Cook and Fleetwood ran into the referee after a penalty appeal was turned down. The sooner the club tell him to shut up and get on with the game it would be better for all concerned. But as Brabin spends most of his time having a go at officials the discipline aspect of the team it’s not going to improve. When things don’t go exactly our way (however bad the provaction was last night and it was), we do have a few too many spolit brats playing for us and not enough who can man up in frustating games such as this one was.
On a foul night in Barrow ( is there any other kind?), it was always going to be a dog of a game. Similar to Wrexham last season, howling gale, bobbly, muddy, unflat pitch which started to cut up. Horrible night with rain swirling in from the Irish Sea. As often is the case the first goal wins these type of matches. It’s typifies the Conference to me, nothing about football, just seeing how far you can break the rules of the game whilst weak officials stand then and do nothing about it.
Smith cuffed the back of Fleetwood’s head and was only spoken to. Bolland’s late challenge on Boucaud, which only due to his nimble feet would have seen his leg damaged if not broken. A fifty fifty challenge between Boucaud and Owen, Boucaud held the Barrow man down( not bright), but Owen got up and flicked a elbow in his face. Two players raised their hands and nothing done. Actually Howells got pushed by Skelton trying to take a free kick, nowhere near as bad, but in the climate these days, usually you can’t breathe near an opponent. The inconsistency of officials from game to game now is pathetic. But the village idiots who run Football in this country will just shrug their shoulders and come out with banalities ” It’s a difficult job”. It is if you only employ sub standard people.
We didn’t adapt to the conditions well or quickly enough. Nor make the most of the advantage of playing with the strong wind at our backs, and were bullied out of the game. Teams know now, if they get into our faces, we don’t respond well to it, it suits the opposition and becomes a battle. If it’s an open game, we would win more times than not. It’s the type of game, you can learn a lot from the players, which ones stood up to it and which ones just moan. We started off alright, Boucaud and to a lesser extent Lawless got on the ball, but with Brabin’s team selection which he went back to shoe-horning players into the team, not in their best positions. We got suckered in to Barrow’s winding up niggly tactics, reacted and we lost the plot.
Too many long balls playing trying to hit Taylor in space, often sailing ten or twenty yards over his head. We needed the ball on the grass, anything in the air was a complete and total lottery. Regardless of the conditions we weren’t good enough in the final third, only when Kissock arrived on the scene far too late, there was someone who trying to play the ball forward on the deck and run at defenders. Two headers from McAllister, O’Connor and a shot by the former which was perfectly placed into the empty terracing, were the sum total of our efforts in the first half. A wind assisted cross by Taylor, which hit the top of the bar, although Pearson had it covered.
Didn’t like the team selection one bit. Fleetwood has played well played up front in the last couple of games, shifts to the left wing ( waste of him there), replacing Howells have been exceptional, Saturday apart, gets shuntered into the midfield. Can see why McAllister was picked, although it weakened the balance of the team ( in my not important or valid opinion). having Hone and Bollard foul him most of the evening, barely got a free kick in his favour. But he didn’t win much in the air against Hone, none of the three midfielders selected were unlikely to get beyond him and chase down the flick ons.
After Saturday’s performance, there wasn’t much need for many changes, apart from Osano’s injury, Keane returned at full back in his place. With Blackett, Crow, Kissock, Watkins on the bench alongside Lewis Kidd. Couldn’t Pilkington at least have stayed until a replacement goalkeeper had been found? With due respect to Kidd his eye for a quick throw and accurary is very good, his all round game is not as good as other goalkeepers we have had at his age ( Beckwith, Brill, Barrett) and would be unfair to put him in the team should Tyler get injured/suspended.
Barrow, excellent home record and doing well with their limited budget, some of their results have they achieved is more than people just losing the will to live going up there. Beating Fleetwood and Wrexham up there was a fine achievement. They play in the style of Dave Bayliss. Push, kick everything in their way. Awful to watch, but each to their own. They matched us, two wingers, three in the midfield. So space was a premium and the likes of Owen and Harvey got around the pitch up and Cook battled well up front on his own.
The first half was poor fare, even allowing for the conditions. Barrow wellied the ball forward and surprise to surprise, the ball disappeared out of play. Smith, the right back, looked to play the same pass down the flank towards Mackreth four or five times with the same result, the ball disappeared onto the road.
In the early stages, we looked bright enough, Boucaud having a freer role than Saturday, with Lawless playing deeper, and O’Connor looked sharper than recently earlier on, but Skelton managed to stay with him or Turner would double up.
Howells’ turning from one of number of long throws by Taylor, feed McAllister to shoot weak wie. A hack forward from Kovacs caught out Hone, one of few errors he made all evening, gave Fleetwood a chance to scamper through on the right channel, a mis hit shot no danger but McAllister would have been a better option ( or possibly not!). McAllister glided a a turning header at Pearson from Keane’s cross.
Barrow hardly saw the ball, when they did threaten Taylor snuffed out the pace of Mackreth, and they were reduced to getting any scrapes from Cook. Cook should have had a decent chance but wasted it after a poor touch from Baker’s through ball. A lovely ball down the channel, flight by Boucaud, Fleetwood cut the ball back to Taylor, swung in a centre for O’Connor to get up well and head straight at Pearson.
The feisty nature, always bubbling away at the surface, started with a late challange by O’Connor on Owen.O’Connor beat Mackrell rolling in Fleetwood but his cross eluded Howells at the far post.
As the half went, our passing become ragged, rather than keep it simple and rely on movement, we looked too often for the top of over the top. Futile. Barrow had their first little psell ofpressure. Clever free kick down the line by Skelton towards mackrell on the left, turned by the byline far too easily for comfortable, but he wasted the opportunity with Lawless being picked out rather than a white shirt. Baker drove a shot at tyler, after taking Smith’s pass in his stride, a fairly routine pouch.
With out and out chances far and far between, any that did come around needed to be taken.McAllister missed a glorious one, Fleetwood flicking on to O’Connor, square pass, mcAllister initaially changed his fet well to drag the ball away from Bolland, the goal lit up, whilst Sjkelton closed down the space, McAllister should have done better life it over.
With a series of bizarre, bemusing decisions, it wasn’t going to take much to lit the blue touch paper, it duly arrived after Fleetwood had been penalised for a late tackle on Smith. It was a foul, but no more, for some reason Smith slapped the back of Fleetwood’s header and incredibly no card has shown. Boucuad clogged by Bolland. Hone cleared Howells’ floated free kcik from the left from Kovacs and a goal kick was awarded. The dire standard of officials isn’t funny any more. As half time approached, Taylor chased down a pass , the centre, wind assisted effort touched the top of the bar.
Second half,we never got going, nowhere near good enough. McAllister isolated, Fleetwood cut a forlorn figure on the wing, we never looked like getting it down and playing. Barrow stepped up their game, got tighter in midfield, Owen and Harvey got into our midfield, denied us time, and out battled us. That really was the winning/losing of the game in a nutshell. They also sussed out the conditions and played a number of clever little low passes between Taylor and Pilkington, allowing Mackreth to go into the space as we held a high line, although his end product was poor, they had the right idea.
Tyler slicing a clearance, but no problem as Keane made a vital interspection as Cook dwelt. Cook got the better of Kovacs,not one of his better evenings, chasing down the ball, cutting inside and drilling a shot wide of the far post.
After Boucaud was booked from presumably saying something to the referee after being elvbowed by Owen. His hearing is obviously better than his eyesight, was taken off before he could ahve been sent off and was replaced by Watkins.Whilst it was probably the right decision as Boucaud is a volatile chap. Kissock would have been the better call, Watkins is struggling for form currently and a heavy pitch against teams quick to close him down, wasn’t the best time for him to time and regain form, he hardly figured. Although Barrow had the better of the game, it says a great deal about their approach to the game when Turner was replaced by Rutherford, he was told by his bench to slow down when running off. Rutherford, the sub had an impact in the agme, creating the winner.
Harvey, a growing uinfluence in the game, showed a rarity in the game,a quick thought, playing a quick free kick towards mackrell, we were slow to raed the sitaution, Mackrell drilled the ball across which Tyler missed,fortunately there was no Barrow player quick enough, in thought or pace, to get into the box for a simple tap in.
If anyone was going to score, it was likely to be them rather than us. Harvey picked up a loose ball, found Rutherford down the left, a return pass to Harvey, who controlled and placed a low shot perfectly into the corner, with Tyler probably unsighted.
With less than twenty minutes left when the goal was scored, it was only the introduction of Kissock ( it needed changing at 0-0)who looked like getting us back into the game. Cook charging down Mackreth’s looped pass, beat Kovacs for pace, but Pilkington, one of the few players to come out of the game with much credit, covered.
Kissock on for McAllister, immediately showing a smart change of feet to defeat Harvey, his through ball just had too many power for Fleetwood. With the goal, the match inevitanly become more open, Smith beating Taylor, rolling teh ball to Mackreth, looking up attempted to find Cook, but Pilkington cleared with an important header. Kissock tripped after a mazy run by Hone ( no booking naturally), got up and hit the free kick low, which got a nick off Owen, but that just took the ball through to Pearson.
The best chance of another goal feel to the hosts, Baker’s pass out to Rutherford, picked out Cook stabbing the ball onto the near post, with Tyler quickly scooping the ball away. The game ended in a undignified scrum the last of a number, O’Connor unhappy over Hone’s tackle. Foot up, seen red cards recently for virtually the same type of challenge.
The manner of the defeat more disppointing than the result – although fed up watching football in the grim north in bad weather. Endless poverty is somewhat tedious seen often enough. Draws aren’t much help at this stage in our position, as we didn’t do nearly enough to win the game. At least on Saturday, with Gateshead, that rarity in this league a team worth watching normally, coming an outbreak of football should hopefully break out. A draw is not needed. Barrow and Gateshead in a week? The Syrians think they have it bad!
On the bright side, the free scarfs handed out by Sweat and the non playing members of the squad ( Willmott, Asafu-Adjaye and Poku) were a nice touch. Better than the manky pencil and rubber handed out by Cherry Newberry at Carlisle in similar circumstances back in the late 1990’s. Three cheers for some creative accounting by Barrow. Appreciate they are in money troubles, but less than a thousand and 70 from Luton? Really? Try 1,100 in total and about 140-150 from Luton would be nearer the mark.
Mark Tyler 6.5, Keith Keane 6.25 , Janos Kovacs 6, George Pilkiington 7.5, Greg Taylor 6.75, Alex Lawless 6.25, Andre Boucaud 7( Adam Watkins 5) , Jake Howells 5.5, Aaron O’Connor 6.5, Craig McAllister 5.75( John-Paul Kissock), Stuart Fleetwood 5.75
Subs not used – Danny Crow, Shane Blackett, Lewis Kidd . Booked – Kovacs, Boucaud, Fleetwood.
Barrow – Pearson, Smith, Bolland, Hone, Skelton, Mackrell, Owen, Baker, Harvey, Turner ( Rutherford), Cook.
*THE DISCLAIMER* The above ratings were picked on a whim and very rarely are an accurate reflection on the player’s performances simply to annoy the reader. Today’s fatuous comments are about Z list footballer spotting. Part time goalscorer and full time ruffian Andrew Carroll wearing a Liverpool tracksuit ( what a fashionista) seen spitting on a M6 service area. Charming. That’s the last time, I use that glory hole.