After a hard fought, and hard fighting, goalless draw on Friday at home against Bradford City, it is away against another B today, this time Barrow, and what has been said to be the furthest away trip of the season (which I’ll come back to).
It is Helen and I’s third away game of the season, and we have a base of operations in Morecambe to travel to Barrow from today, as we have taken the opportunity to visit my mum here whilst on our travels. We are twelve miles away from Barrow as the crow flies straight across Morecambe Bay. But the drive around the bay is considerably further at about forty-five miles. We had considered getting the train around, as the trip from Lancaster to Barrow-In-Furness is one of the most scenic rail journeys in the country. But engineering works means it is rail replacement bus services all over the Easter weekend and the road journey isn’t the same, and I might as well drive it myself.
And speaking of driving, I know full well Barrow is closer to Crawley than Carlisle is. I’ve driven from Morecambe to both and the journey to Carlisle is at least twenty miles longer, and as the journey up to the point those journeys separate is only five miles from Morecambe, it’s not possible for it to be further to Barrow unless you get lost. (I looked it up when I was in Barrow, Carlisle is twenty-five miles further away, Edwin Starr is happy about that.)
Anyway, if it were a clearer day and there wasn’t a bit of a hill in the way we would be able to see Barrow from the front at Morecambe as we start our journey, instead of just vaguely seeing the outline of Piel Castle through the haze at full zoom.
We hadn’t been into the centre of Barrow before, the closest was going to Furness Abbey and Piel Castle a few years ago, so we went for a look around. It was shut. The main central car park looked like it was from Get Carter before Alf Roberts was pushed from the roof. The rest of the town was deserted. Which does seem a bit of a shame as it has some lovely looking Victorian red brick buildings. Wetherspoons for lunch and the retail park near the ground were the only places open.
Barrow started the game in 9th, thirteen places and twenty points ahead of us, but on a poor run of form, and have dropped out of the playoff places recently. We start the game just out of the relegation places on goal difference ahead of Hartlepool. Oddly, despite the difference in places and points we go into the game having scored more goals in the league this season than Barrow. In fact, we’ve scored more goals than a lot of teams above us, it’s just stopping them at the other end that is the issue.
There was a GH away day coach coming up with an overnight stop for some Crawley fans, but anyone trying to train it up were being hampered at every turn. Euston was shut to anything going north, so it was alternative routes to Milton Keynes to try and get north from there, only to be met by the aforementioned rail replacement once getting to Lancaster.
There was no sign of any programme sellers at the ground, and the turnstile for the away fans was not signposted. We did nearly a lap of the ground before being sent back to somewhere we had passed before. I didn’t think it was possible to be less organised than at Crawley, but they were giving it a good go. And inside the ground it is just strange. I may say about us sitting in the east marquee, but we can have fans all around the ground and there aren’t so many view blocking metal posts. Plus, their pitch looks atrocious, making ours look like a crown green bowling lawn.
Our game at home earlier in the season had ended with us winning 1-0 after an early Ashley Nadesan goal despite an abysmally biased referee performance. (Something I might have said about today until about the eighty fifth minute.)
The rain of the day had finally stopped about ten minutes before kick-off, and despite being under a stand it was difficult to find any dry seats. Barrow were in white shirts with what looked like a drunken paint brush stripe of light blue down the middle, blue shorts, and white socks. We were in all black, as if dressing for a funeral.
We settled better and ten minutes in we got a free kick on the edge of the area, and Jack Powell had a shot that was deflected for a corner, from which Barrow went up the other end and won a free kick of their own. Which fortunately made some of Jack Powell’s efforts over the season look world class.
Eighteen minutes in, there is a Barrow counter attack through a gap in the middle of the field, the ball is played out to the right wing and crossed in for their number ten to slam in and we are behind 0-1, There is nothing wrong with Barrow’s PA system and it blasts out The Dave Clarke Five’s “Glad All Over” when the ball goes in.
On twenty-five minutes Barrow have the ball in the net for a second time, only for it to be ruled out for a blatant handball, so it stayed 0-1 and their player got a booking for their troubles as well. On half an hour, Barrow get another free kick on the edge of our box, but it is just wide and the ball heads off down the tunnel.
So, Caleb Chukwuemeka started. I don’t know why, I’m not sure anyone else watching knows why. He is useless, doesn’t try, and has a worse pass completion percentage than good old Jack. Is there a clause in his loan deal that the club have only just noticed that he must play a certain number of games or minutes, and that if he doesn’t, we have to shell out a load of money for the loan deal? Surely that can be the only explanation for why he’s even anywhere near the squad, let alone playing and his sudden reappearance.
As the board goes up for two added minutes, it stays up to bring about CC’s substitution, which brings about the biggest cheer of the day from the travelling support, as he is replaced by Dom Telford. And at half time substitution two is made to bring on Atamide Oteh for Jack Roles, another one who did nothing and shouldn’t have started.
Two minutes into the second half, before everyone has got settled there is a free kick from the far side, and it comes across to Barrow’s number ten and he heads in to make it 0-2. Not the start to the half we wanted or needed.
Eight minutes into the half came a stupid and totally unnecessary push in the back from Travis Johnson on a Barrow player and the ref has no hesitation pointing to the spot. Although Corey Addai gets a hand to the penalty, it goes into the side of the net and Barrow are 0-3 up and their number ten completes his hat trick.
It takes a while to get a couple of attacks going. Twenty-five minutes in fact. A shot is deflected foe a corner, which ends up starting a counterattack and a shot on goal by Barrow. A couple of minutes later Brandon Mason is taken out on the halfway line and a yellow card is given, but it looked more of a mid-shin stamp, and it should have been a straight red. Not that playing against ten men would really have helped today.
With less than ten minutes to go and after a few sorties forward there is another super-fast break and the Barrow striker is one on one with Corey Addai, who saves well, but the ball bounces out and he can’t get back up to stop the follow up header looping over him and into the net to make it 0-4.
The crowd is announced as being 3335, with 87 away fans, which brings the second loudest cheer of the day from the away contingent.
With less than five minutes to go Oteh is fouled again in midfield and loses the plot as he gets up and pushes the Barrow player over. He is extremely lucky to only get a yellow card for that, which is a bonus as it will mean he doesn’t miss the next three games.
There were four added minutes, during which we were mainly thankful that Barrow didn’t make it five before the final whistle was blown.
It was dire today. We lack pace all over the pitch and it is becoming more and more obvious with each passing game. Our defenders can’t cope with it, and our strikers aren’t quick enough to go past people. And the pace of play is glacial. It is terrible to watch. It was good to see Nick Tsaroulla back on the bench, but part of me is glad he wasn’t thrown back in today, as we have had the tendency to rush people back from injury doing us no goo in the long term (Ashley Nadesan isn’t really the same player since his injury earlier in the season).
And results elsewhere didn’t help matters, Rochdale, Hartlepool, and Harrogate all drew, and Colchester somehow managed to win 4-0. We have slipped into the relegation places again, a point behind Hartlepool, three behind Harrogate and four behind Colchester, and we have worse goal difference (lots worse in some cases) than all of them.
It is now back to home fixtures with Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, a game we really have to win now. Hopefully, we should be home by then to watch it.
Come on you reds.