Barrow AFC 1-0 County

The Hatters made their second trip of the week for an assignment within the historic Lancashire county boundaries, but could not emulate their midweek victory at Rochdale, as they saw a five-match winning run come to an end with a single-goal defeat against Barrow.

Josh Kay’s strike midway through the second half separated the two sides in a contest where chances were at a relative premium, as County suffered a second ‘double’ reverse of the season and slipped a position down to fifth.

County took to the field on a cloudy afternoon with the same line-up as that which had started the previous four matches – but with only four of the starters (namely, Ben Hinchliffe, Callum Camps, Will Collar and Kyle Wootton) who began the reverse-fixture against the ‘Bluebirds’ at Edgeley Park on the opening day of the campaign seven months earlier. On the bench, Aaron Rowe, still awaiting his debut as a Hatter, replaced Connor Evans, who, two days ahead of the match, had joined Notts County on loan until the season’s end.

The Barrow starters included an ex-Hatter in Elliot Newby, whilst another, Ben Whitfield, was named among the home substitutes. But neither Richie Bennett nor player-coach Jason Taylor, who had also plied their trade for County, featured in the Bluebirds’ squad.

The hosts, without a win at Holker Street in three months, fashioned the game’s initial attempts, through record signing Ged Garner who fired wide of the right post, and, subsequently, George Ray whose header, from a Sam McClelland long throw on the right, was propelled the wrong side of the same upright.

The first half’s mid-point had been and just gone by the time County had created an inaugural chance, but Camps went close after drilling a shot across from the right that Tom White deflected past the far post.

Three minutes later, Chris Hussey was to go even closer with a free-kick – awarded for a handball by Robbie Gotts 20 yards out – that struck the angle of the crossbar and right post. And Camps hit a half-volley beyond the opposite stick, as the Hatters began to enjoy a greater share of the contest – albeit in an otherwise largely forgettable half.

HALF-TIME: Barrow 0, County 0. 

Newby looked to haunt his previous club with an effort from the edge of the box, half a dozen minutes after the resumption, that flew past County’s right post. And, shortly afterwards, Garner’s low shot forced Hinchliffe to dive and smother by way of what was the first save made by either goalkeeper.

Kay’s overhead kick fizzed wide of the left post, and McClelland fired over the bar following a corner, as the Bluebirds continued to enjoy a bright early second-half spell.

As had been the case in the first half, the Hatters took rather longer to get into their stride – but when they did, just after the hour-mark, Camps cleared the bar with a shot from outside the box – and Tanto Olaofe, under pressure from home captain Niall Canavan, fired against the right side-netting.

With 69 minutes on the clock, Barrow broke the deadlock after gaining possession just inside the County half. Garner surged into the box, before squaring to Kay on his right who drilled past Hinchliffe and into the far bottom corner of the net.

The Hatters made an immediate triple-substitution with a view to freshening things up, and subsequently brought on Rowe for his first appearance. Rowe, three minutes from time, also executed County’s first shot on target – although home ‘keeper Paul Farman caught it comfortably on the bounce. And despite the award of five minutes of time added on, County could make no further impression – falling to a first defeat in seven games.

FULL-TIME: Barrow 1 (Kay, 69), County 0.

Team (3-5-2): Hinchliffe; Wright (Rowe, 81), Byrne, Hussey; Knoyle, Camps, Croasdale (Capt.) (Davenport, 72), Collar, Hippolyte (Rydel, 72); Olaofe (Stretton, 72), Wootton.

[Debut for Aaron Rowe, with a unique SCAN (Stockport County Appearance Number) of 1447.]

Unused Subs: Jaros, Horsfall, R. Johnson.

Booked: Stretton.

Attendance: 4,164 (625 away).

Reporter: Gareth Evans.

Photographer: Mike Petch.


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