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Match Reports

Barrow 0-2 Notts

League leaders defeated on own patch

7 March 2020

Tom Crawford and Cal Roberts bagged their first league goals for us as we recorded a magnificent 2-0 win over league leaders Barrow.

The pair both scored in the second half after Barrow had missed a penalty and seen Scott Quigley dismissed.

And in the end we could have won by a wider margin as we cemented ourselves in sixth place.

Neal Ardley emphasised the need for squad rotation in the build-up to the game and made six changes to the side that made the trip to AFC Fylde on Tuesday night.

Alex Lacey and Damien McCrory returned from injury to form a back three with Connell Rawlinson, with Richard Brindley and Joel Bagan playing as wing backs.

Crawford joined Michael Doyle and Jim O'Brien in central midfield, while Scott Wilson was given his chance to impress up front alongside Wes Thomas.

A wealth of options were available to us off the bench, with Kristian Dennis, Enzio Boldewijn, Kyle Wootton, Adam Long and Roberts waiting in the wings.

It quickly became clear that the wind would be against us in the first half and the opening exchanges set the tone as we struggled to get out of our own half.

Rooney claimed the first shot of the day on three minutes when his 30-yarder sailed over the bar and we threatened a response with our first meaningful foray forward when Bagan's half-blocked shot from inside the area was held by home keeper Joel Dixon.

Another speculative effort from Rooney, this time a 40-yard free-kick, resulted in the ball sailing over before the midfielder had a golden opportunity to give his side the lead from much closer range.

Thomas conceded possession cheaply 30 yards from his own goal and Barrow spun our back line with a pass into the area, which left McCrory with little choice but to haul down Quigley in the area.

Rooney sent McDonnell the wrong way but the ball cannoned off the post and away to safety, much to our relief.

Midfielder Rooney was proving to be their biggest goal threat and McDonnell did well to hold on to the ball after the Bluebirds skipper guided a first-time effort goalwards through a crowd of bodies from 20 yards.

And the hosts came within inches of taking the lead shortly afterwards when Angus burst into the area and fizzed a low shot across goal and just wide of the post.

Rooney hit the woodwork once again on 32 minutes, this time clipping the outside of the post with a 30-yard free-kick, before we hunkered down and stifled our hosts up to half-time, with strong winds continuing to blow straight into our faces right up to the referee's whistle.

There were no changes at the break and Barrow's Dan Jones set about altering the scoreline on 51 minutes when his strike from 25 yards caught the wind and presented McDonnell with a problem. The keeper got a strong palm behind the ball to keep it out.

Ardley then made a double switch up top as Wootton and Roberts replaced Wilson and Thomas.

But it was a Barrow forward who was next in the spotlight as Quigley was given his marching orders for a reckless lunge on McDonnell as the keeper bravely claimed the ball at his feet in the area.

We now not only had the wind at our backs but also a spare man.

And we began to turn the screw when a cross from the left nearly presented Roberts with a chance at the back stick, only for Dixon to make a crucial intervention to concede a corner. Lacey met the subsequent delivery on the stretch but could only turn the ball wide under pressure.

Crawford was next to have a go, seeing his effort from just inside the area well held by Dixon, minutes before we broke the deadlock in front of a jubilant away end.

It looked like the chance had gone when Rawlinson's flicked effort was brilliantly turned behind by Dixon, but Crawford was on hand to meet the subsequent corner with a header which found its way into the back of the net.

And our joy was doubled shortly afterwards when Roberts showed brilliant footwork in the area to wriggle past his man and finish from a tight angle.

Bagan entered the book for a foul and promptly made way for his fellow loanee Long shortly before O'Brien swept a first-time effort wide after receiving the ball from Crawford.

Roberts could have had another when he broke away with four minutes to go but he sent his shot across goal and just wide after deciding to take it early.

Four minutes were added on at the end of the match but the hosts were well beaten as we recorded a memorable win in front of 433 visiting supporters.


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