A performance of lustre saw County set up an FA Trophy replay at Edgeley Park this Tuesday night after coming back from behind twice to draw against Barrow 2-2.
The game started at a frantic pace with both teams having chances with County carving out the clearer openings as Jevons tested the keeper after just 2 minutes with a shot from outside the box that landed straight into McMillan's arms. Soon after another chance for County went begging when a through ball by Rhys Turner just failed to reach the on-rushing Kristian Dennis who found himself free in the box. At the other end of the pitch a mix up between Ian Ormson and Kieran Charnock nearly gifted Barrow the lead when Marcus Carver chipped the ball over the County keeper but he recovered well to grab the ball while under pressure. Phil Jevons showed great first touch to bring down a tricky ball in the centre of the park but with the Barrow defence giving him limited space he was forced to shoot from 20 yards and failed to test the home keeper.
The game settled into an even tussle with the ball stuck in the middle of the park for a long duration and both teams looked to have addressed their defensive struggles this season causing the game to reach a stalemate. County escaped the shackles to create two good chances. First, Turner sped down the right wing to cross dangerously after being given the advantage from the referee. A County free-kick was dealt with efficiently by the Bluebird's back line.
The deadlock was broken on the 27th minute and it was the home side who went in front as Nicky Platt headed the ball into the back of his own net as he desperately tried to prevent the ball reaching a dangerous midfield runner. Despite this setback County showed admirable resolve to fight their way back into the game and earn a penalty within 3 minutes of going behind. Forceful play from Jacobs found Jevons on the edge of the box and his through ball was latched onto by Turner who was clipped by O'Donnell as he cut inside. Jevons slotted the spot kick into the corner and County were on terms.
Both teams pushed hard up to the break to try and go in with a valuable lead but good defending from both sides kept the chances to a minimum with many of the efforts coming from outside the box.
After emerging from the break County quickly slipped behind once more as a soft looking penalty shout against Jordan Fagbola was given despite County’s protests. Barrow's Rushton calmly sent Ormson the wrong way to put the Bluebirds ahead once again.
A couple of minutes later Platt had a clear chance to square the game again as he showed excellent alertness to run onto a through ball which the offside Dennis had wisely chosen to ignore but his shot was off target.
The game once again became attritional with a protracted midfield battle on an increasingly bobbly pitch making for a frustrating spectacle. Dennis was able to break free from the Bluebird's defence but was unable to make anything of the chance as the ball skied over the ball. 3 minutes later saw the introduction of striker Liam Dickinson with Alan Lord trying to find a way back into the match.
On the 69th minute Dickinson was flagged offside when we'll placed after a great flick by Dennis landed in his path. On the 74th minute some continued County pressure was rewarded as the Hatters finally got the equaliser they deserved. A corner was cleared to Dennis who controlled and delivered a wonderful cross which was met by the head of Fagbola who was still forward from the original corner and his precise header found the back of the net.
The impressive Dickinson looked very dangerous in the last 10 minutes as County went searching for the win but was just unable to meet a far post cross with the defender taking a fistful of his shirt. County came away more satisfied than elated at having forced a replay from a game where they demonstrated good character and resolve; qualities that by Alan Lord's own admission, he was delighted to see return after last Saturday's poor performance at Oxford.
Written by Sam Thompson