Question of the WeekWhat do you think of the European Super League?
|Game, Set and Match|
By: Andrew Doherty
SO here we are at Holker Street, otherwise known as the Progression Solicitors Stadium. Well not Town's Montel Gibson, who's out on loan at Altrincham and spent his weekend apparently breaking Covid rules at a Gender Reveal party, whatever one of those is.
A couple of weeks ago, this would have been the crucial game but since then Barrow have been pulling off unlikely victories while we have become draw specialists. The gap between us is now 10 points. So we'll just have to pretend that this is crunch time.
Town's team this evening was: McKeown - Hendrie, Hewitt, Menayese, Clifton - Matete, Rose, Spokes - John-Lewis, Hanson, Payne. Commander Hurst's post-Mansfield interview was interesting, and I agree with his observation that it's inexplicable that our substitutes can come on and make an impact, but when the same players then start a game they lack consistency and composure. It is bizarre but also explains where we are.
Town, in black and white, kicked off. The combative Matete got to 2 minutes before committing a foul. Town won a corner on 4 minutes following a pass along the right by Hendrie to John-Lewis who shook off the defender. Spokes's corner was headed clear. Town played patiently and looked tight in defence. Barrow won a corner on 10 minutes but Thomas's header was well wide. After a foul on Matete, Spokes put in a good long cross. Hanson headed the ball back and Hewitt got a foot on it but the ball landed on top of the net. A long throw by Hendrie on 17 minutes again found the head of Hanson but this time Menayese shot over the bar. A long pass from Clifton won Town a throw, but nothing came of it. The game was a touch aerial but Town were looking to link up and weren't allowing Barrow to create anything. The hard-working John-Lewis had a half chance on 21 minutes but was surrounded by defenders, and then had a decent shot after shaking off Thomas but John-Lewis shot was just over. Town kept closing Barrow down and winning tackles in midfield. A big clearance from McKeown found Payne who turned and struck a shot just over the bar. Town put together a neat passing move on 33 minutes but Clifton's cross from the left was too long. Barrow had an attacking spell towards the end of the half. Hewitt fouled James on the left edge of the box, but Town's defender was alert and headed the cross from the free-kick out for a Barrow corner. From the corner Town broke away. Payne, Spokes and the surging Hendrie linked up. The defender headed the ball backwards and Hanson got a shot in which was blocked. If Town were weak anywhere at the back it was on the left. Clifton conceded a corner on 43 minutes when under pressure. Banks's corner was cleared. Town played reasonably well through the first half, looked to go forward and deprived Barrow from having any chances, but the fact was that neither side had a shot on target, and no individual stood out. So 0 - 0 it was, and it wasn't the exciting variety.
Town were now against the wind for the second half as they attacked the site huts behind the goal. Barrow started with a couple of attacks, then James produced the worst shot of the night so far by clearing the top of the stand for Barrow on 51 minutes. Clifton then supplied Spokes whose woefully overhit cross summed up the lack of end product. Town's pocket dynamo Matete won a free-kick when he was pushed in the back, then Clifton lost possession, leading to a quick move by Barrow. Taylor passed to Quigley whose shot was inches over. Town passed the ball about but it was all a bit slow and aimless. 60 minutes passed. Matete saw space but Payne was beaten by the Barrow defender. Spokes saw Hendrie on the right but Hendrie's cross came to nothing. John-Lewis was then booked for committing a foul while challenging a defender and was then the foulee as he went to help out in defence. There was plenty of character from Town but this wasn't a classic. Clifton's chip towards Spokes earned Town a corner which Spokes took. The goalkeeper cleared under pressure but Rose's effort was well over. Nothing much was happening. Town had a momentary scare when McKeown had a panicked clearance but Menayese calmly mopped up. On 68 minutes Rose was dispossessed but Barrow's attack ended with an overhit cross. The game was languid. Town were working hard but the play from both sides lacked quality. On 71 minutes tight work on the right by Rose, Matete and Hendrie won Town a throw near the corner. The throw came in. John-Lewis used his power to shake off the defender and placed the ball to Spokes on the edge of the box. Spokes's clean left-footed shot flew into the top left corner of the net. The deadlock was broken, Barrow 0, Town 1. Barrow started to show more urgency as Town dropped deeper. Hewitt fouled Barry on the left near the corner. Spokes conceded another corner. The corner swung in. McKeown fumbled as he fell over Hewitt. Another corner to Barrow. Town weathered the storm. On 78 minutes, the cramp-stricken Rose was replaced by Coke. A Barrow attack was terminated after Matete was fouled. Town sat deep and clung on desperately. Payne handled near the halfway line. Coke cleared Barry's free-kick. Hewitt then cleared, while the battling Matete and John-Lewis used skill and muscle to bring the ball away to safety. On 84 minutes Barrow launched a quick attack. Quigley broke clear on the left and fired in a sharp shot which looked to have been palmed clear by McKeown but a goal kick was awarded. Barrow had another dangerous attack but Town's defence was well drilled once again, and Beadling's shot was blocked. A huge clearance by the Barrow keeper found Devitt deep in Town's half but Hendrie shepherded Devitt, and Spokes was able to clear. Four extra minutes were added. Barrow continued to press for the equaliser. Quigley found himself on the edge of the box but the magnificent Menayese was on hand and quick to shut him down. A Quigley cross then put Town's defence under pressure. McKeown went down but Hendrie was clattered and Town won a free-kick. Barrow had another chance but a desperate block by Coke kept them out. And that was it. Victory to Town. Barrow 0, Town 1 was the final score.
Town's victory was deserved. The defence and overall attitude were magnificent, while the midfield, epitomised by the tiger-like Matete, battled and fought for supremacy. Of the front men, John-Lewis in particular showed similar qualities to Matete with his never-say-die attitude. It wasn't pretty but it was what we needed. We passed this test. There are many more to go. We can just about dare to dream still.
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