The Fleet suffered their heaviest defeat for more than 27 years when Witney Town put seven past Gary Aldous’ side without reply in December 1992, writes Mark Halliday.
Defeat here at Barrow might have been mitigated by an early sending-off for Jack King at the home of the league leaders, but as Kevin Watson stated post-match “there were no excuses” for the manner or margin of this reverse.
Pressed into a change of goalkeeper and with Jamie Grimes coming in for Ayo Obileye, Watson’s two changes were intended to keep the in-form leaders at bay and Fleet managed just that for 15 minutes.
But when Barrow got their noses in front after some patient play up to that point, there was little chance they were going to relinquish it. The opener came on the quarter-hour mark with more than a hint of controversy when Scott Quigley seemed to foul King in getting past the Fleet skipper but he was able to find Tom White to side-foot the ball home.
The King-Quigley clash would come back to haunt the visitors 10 minutes later when the Fleet defender grabbed at Quigley’s arm as he fought to get clear on Harry Palmer’s goal and as the Barrow top scorer went over, the referee took a dim view despite the distance to goal and brandished the red card.
Calamity upon calamity followed as John Rooney immediately drove home an unstoppable free-kick. Fleet tried to reorganise, with Grimes pulled into King’s vacant berth and Andre Blackman, the only player who’d enjoyed a run towards goal for the Fleet, forced to deploy further back down the left flank.
Barrow were able to sweep the ball quickly between themselves though Fleet held their line for another 15 minutes or so but two minutes from half-time, the inevitable third went in. Brad Barry created it, Quigley finished it and the visitors trooped off three goals and a man down.
With just pride to play for, Fleet initially kept Barrow at bay in the second half, though there was a suspicion that the home side could up it a gear and so it proved. Rooney scraped the crossbar and Dior Angus should have scored before the fourth finally arrived again from out wide, Lewis Hardcastle robbing possession and his cross nodded home by substitute Ollie Dyson.
With 20 minutes left, Fleet couldn’t close the gaps in defence and Barrow simply rolled through them. Four became five (after Hardcastle had again wobbled the woodwork) on 75 minutes, White feeding Jack Hindle who beat a player before cutting back a ball for Quigley’s second.
And with the visitors desperate to hear the final whistle, Rooney strolled through to add two more goals for his hat-trick in the 83rd and 89th minutes, one of them his second successful effort from a direct free-kick.
Even the customary four minutes of time added on was overlooked by the referee who had decided enough damage was done to the 24 heroic Fleet supporters who had made the trek north.
EUFC: Palmer, Grimes, Cordner, King, Ekpiteta, Blackman, Payne, Sutherland, Goddard, Ugwu (Umerah 62), Reid (Adeloye 73). Subs not used: Obileye, Egan, Wilson
Barrow: Dixon, Hird, Platt, Barry (Dyson 63), White, Taylor, Rooney, Kay (Hindle 68), Hardcastle, Quigley, Angus (Harrison 73) Subs not used: Brown, Penfold
Attendance: 2,303 (EUFC 24)