REPORT BY JOE GLIDEWELL
Adam Boyes’ late strike left the Fleet wondering how they weren’t able to win the game.
Phil Walsh had earlier put the visitors ahead when he headed home a corner, but Boyes’ goal denied the Fleet what would have been a much needed, and well deserved three points. Just like the game at Braintree on bank holiday Monday, the Fleet ended the game with ten men after Nathan Elder was sent off during the second half.
With the Fleet having postponements on route to games this season, losing games they should have won and just having general bad luck, you really couldn’t predict what was going to happen next in luck department. You’d have been a millionaire by now if you had placed a bet on the next installment. Not only was the Fleet team coach held up early on in the journey due to a crash, they were held up for a long period of time on the M6 due to numerous tins of Heinz Baked Beans all over the road. That’s right, a lorry carrying tins of baked beans had spilt it’s load all over the motorway. Unfortunately, the team coach was stuck around Merseyside for the best part of two hours.
The coach finally arrived at Holker Street at around 8:30pm, and the team had around fifteen minutes to warm up before the kick-off at 9:05pm. Manager Liam Daish was forced into a few changes from the defeat at Braintree. Jack Saville came in for Paul Lorraine, Nathan Elder came in for Matt Godden after the striker had been recalled by parent club Scunthorpe, and Neil Barrett came in for the suspended Stefan Payne. New signing Merrick James-Lewis was on the bench.
Despite all the inconveniences, the Fleet surprisingly started the better side. It took just a couple of minutes for the first chance to arrive; Liam Enver-Marum’s shot was tipped over by man of the match Danny Hurst. The resulting corner from Gareth Gwillim was headed just wide by Elder. Ashley Carew sent a free-kick wide from just outside the area.
The game then became a bit scrappy, with both sides getting forward without really creating anything. Both sides were getting crosses into the box but both defences head firm with their clearances.
Hurst was there once again half hour into the match, as he saved another shot from Enver-Marum. Barrow begun to threaten with hattrick hero from the reverse fixture Richie Baker having a shot saved by Preston Edwards, and just two minutes later he saw his goal-bound effort blocked by Jack Saville.
Tom Phipp got in on the action as he saw his effort tipped over by Hurst and Liam Bellamy almost headed in at the far post to give the Fleet the lead. The midfielder spent some time off the field for what looked to be a collision with the post. Once again, Gwillim’s corners were hitting the target every time and Walsh got on the end of one just after the half-hour mark but he saw his header go wide of the post.
The central defender did get his reward four minutes later though, as yet another great delivery from the left back found Walsh who headed home from six yards out. Despite getting a touch to the ball, the in-form Barrow keeper had finally been beaten! The sixteen Fleet fans who had stationed themselves in one corner of the ground were going nuts, and they were entitled to. Four of them even braved the freezing cold by going topless for five minutes until the end of the first half.
HT: 0-1. The Fleet go into the break with a well deserved lead. The Bluebirds will be thanking ‘keeper Danny Hurst for the scoreline being as low as it is.
Danny L Rowe came on for the start of the second half and replaced Joe Owen, and whatever manager Dave Bayliss said at half-time it worked. The Bluebirds made it more of a game in the second half creating numerous chances. Rowe sent his effort wide from inside the area.
Enver-Marum saw his effort from just outside the box go wide before Barrow had a slight flurry of chances. Boyes’ effort was blocked by Saville, resulting in a corner. Adam Dawson saw his effort blocked before Garry Hunter saw his effort go over the bar from just outside the box. The Fleet had gone from being by far the better side, to backs against the wall and a Barrow goal was definitely on the cards.
Elder saw his effort blocked by Mike Pearson before the Bluebirds were in again. Boyes had two efforts saved by Edwards before Sean McConville hit two efforts wide of the goal. Elder and Hunter were both booked for an altercation on the edge of the pitch.
Paul Rutherford sent a shot over, just minutes after entering the fray, before McConville wasted yet another chance as he sent a shot over the bar.
Hurst made yet another save from Phipp’s drilled effort and the Bluebirds finally supported Hurst’s excellent work between the sticks. Rutherford’s pass found Boyes on the edge of the area, and his left footed shot was put out of Edwards’ reach into the bottom corner. One all, and Barrow looked the better of the two sides at that point.
Three minutes later, things became even tougher for the Fleet when top scorer Nathan Elder was sent off for yet another challenge on Hunter. Those two were at each other’s throats for most of the game.
Enver-Marum had two shots blocked and another well saved by Hurst. Not even the long-awaited return of striker Moses Ashikodi could bring the Fleet the winning goal.
Four minutes of time were added, and the Bluebirds were the only team who looked like scoring. Fortunately for the Fleet, Barrow proved wasteful in front of goal.
FT: 1-1. Close to 11pm and the game is all over. A point really does no favours for either side. Barrow edge a point closer to safety while the Fleet remain second from bottom and are now ten points from safety with games in hand on those above them. Barrow host title contenders Mansfield on Saturday while the Fleet have yet another relegation battle when they host Nuneaton.
TEAM: Edwards, Howe, Gwillim, Walsh, Saville, Bellamy, Phipp, Barrett (Ashikodi, 86), Carew, Marum, Elder.
Subs not used: Menz, Blake, Azeez, James-Lewis.