Fleet salvaged a late point to have something to show for their long-haul trip to Cumbria this afternoon as Liam Enver-Marum’s strike three minutes from time cancelled out Barrow’s early opener.
With Craig Stone taken ill just before kick-off, Johnny Herd earned a late call-up in an otherwise unchanged line-up that saw Tom Phipp keep his place ahead of fit-again Neil Barrett, who had to settle for a berth on the bench.
But after a bright start, Fleet’s afternoon got a whole lot harder on six minutes. A long ball forward fell to Adam Boyes who flicked the ball past Ian Simpemba and Andy Cook ran clear to lob Preston Edwards for the opener.
In windy weather, Barrow used the conditions to their advantage in the first half and could have extended their lead on a couple of occasions but Paul Lorraine and Herd in particular struggled manfully to keep the Bluebirds at bay. Andy Ferrell’s header went wide and Boyes’ shot was turned behind by Edwards before the influential Richie Baker twice went close.
Fleet lost Phipp to a broken nose on 36 minutes, with Barrett replacing him, but did little to trouble the home defence until Nathaniel Pinney showed a clean pair of heels late in the half to fire a shot just off target.
Back out early in the second half, Fleet improved with the wind at their backs as conditions became more atrocious with the onset of rain. But Barrow had the best chance of the opening spell as goalscorer Cook did well with a header that only for the attentions of Lorraine would have troubled Edwards. Liam Daish shook things up on the hour mark, Ricky Shakes replacing Calum Willock and then Fleet had a good shout for a penalty when Simpemba’s header in seemed to strike the clearly raised arm of a Barrow defender.
Fleet continued to press and Michael West struck a free-kick on target on 72 minutes as the visitors forced several set pieces. Joe Howe also kept the Fleet momentum going with a decent effort on 85 minutes that the keeper kept out and his side’s luck turned two minutes later when Enver-Marum, who had opened his account for the Fleet in spectacular style against Barrow back in September, did it again.
The ex-Woking man controlled a ball in the air with one touch and let fly with one of his trademark thunderbolts from distance that rocketed past Shaun Pearson in the Barrow goal. There were complaints of offside from the Barrow faithful but Fleet were too busy celebrating to care as they take the point back down the country – which should make the long journey a little bit more palatable.
TEAM: Edwards, Herd, Howe, Simpemba, Lorraine, Marwa, West, Phipp (Barrett 36), Enver-Marum, Willock (Shakes 60), Pinney (Darvill 70). Subs not used: Welch,
Nathaniel Pinney won Kidderminster man of the match. Use drop-down menu above for today’s vote.