League Two Table
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|All at Sea|
By: Andrew Doherty
SATURDAY'S high-energy performance was going to be hard to follow, especially as the next game involved a 200-mile journey across the Pennines three days later to Barrow.
Even though our away form has been outstanding this year, it was always going to require a lot of careful preparation to get the players in a state of fitness and readiness to go again, as they say, after Saturday's tough battle with Bradford. But as we know, Mr Hurst is good at careful preparation. Today's opponents have had a decent start and are a point behind us in the table but have slipped away of late. This tells us nothing. We just had to play our own game, and assuming the same work rate as Saturday, we should have nothing to fear. The team representing Town this evening read: Crocombe - Cropper, Waterfall, Smith, Efete - Green - Holohan, Morris, Clifton, Khan - Taylor.
Barrow did the early attacking as Town, in traditional black and white kit, contributed by committing fouls. On 5 minutes Cropper coolly put a cross out for a corner. Barrow's game was based on flying crosses. Town weren't offering anything. On 10 minutes a through ball saw Waters through, but Crocombe stood up and did well to save with his feet. Town continued to struggle as passes went astray. Barrow won a corner after a missed header by Efete. Whitfield then broke but Smith cut out the cross. Barrow looked well organized. Town were off it. A terrible pass by Neal was pounced on by Taylor who shot at the defence and then compounded the issue by fouling the defender. Clifton then sent Taylor away but the cross was poor. That was as good as it had got. On 22 minutes Barrow won a corner. Brough crossed, Crocombe stretched. The ball bounced in the penalty area. Smith lashed at it and his attempted clearance sliced off the crossbar. Two minutes later Moyo went just wide with a header after Morris committed a foul. Cropper got his first throw on 27 minutes and only the defender in the way stopped Green. Barrow attacked. Brough ran wide with Waterfall shepherding him. Brough went down and was booked for diving. Town finally had a meaningful shot on 32 minutes after Holohan picked up a pass from Neal but Morris miscued his shot. Town were struggling to retain possession and were creating very few opportunities. On 38 minutes Barrow played a short corner. Kay ran on. Khan saw the threat and was adjudged to have tripped Kay - penalty for Barrow. Kay slammed his shot. Crocombe dived to his right but kept his eye on the ball and saved with his feet. A Cropper throw on 39 minutes caused havoc in the Barrow defence, and Canavan was forced to clear for a corner from close range, but overall Town's performance was poor. Improvement was needed.
Within seconds of the restart, Taylor had a chance to nip in but nipping in isn't his forte and the keeper was there first. Things looked promising when Clifton supplied the overlapping Efete but this was not to repeat itself. Waterfall was booked for clattering Whitfield as Barrow took over and threatened to attack. Whifield took the free kick but the shot from outside the box was so bad that it went out for a throw-in. Hoohan played a nice ball to Taylor whose control wasn't great but Town did win a corner. Smith found himself in the middle with a great chance to place his header on goal but missed the ball completely. The game lacked quality, with neither side impressing. It started to pour with rain. After a decent move on 60 minutes, Barrow won a corner. The corner was well-aimed. Canavan missed with a header from 2 yards. Smith was then forced into a desperate tackle after a Holohan error led to a break. A good run from Efete resulted in a Cropper long throw. Waterfall and Green got in each other's way. Efete did well to stop the counterattack. Cropper then cut out a Kay cross to concede a corner. Town were having no impact on the game. On 70 minutes Richardson replaced Khan. The game had not been played at any pace and now slowed down even more. On 74 minutes Barrow attacked. Brough sent in a low cross into the middle from the left. Waters beat Smith to the ball and drilled in a left-footed shot from 10 yards. The deadlock was broken. Barrow 1, Town 0, Barrow looked to build on their lead, as Smith cut out another Brough cross. This was followed up with another shot. Tired Town made a triple substitution on 78 minutes. Hunt, Pepple and Simmonds came on for Green, Morris and Taylor. It made no difference. In fact Town lost what little shape they had with more passes going astray. Barrow pressed on. Simmonds gave the ball away, leading to a corner to Barrow, which Town struggled to clear. Four minutes were added but Town's passing was awful and Hunt managed to get booked for tripping an advancing defender. Town stumbled to defeat against a Barrow side who were less woeful. It ended: Barrow 1, Town 0. It had been poor quality fare for the 3,301 spectators including the 462 Town fans.
As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said: "A goal without a plan is just a wish". Town didn't look like scoring a goal and it wasn't clear at any stage what the plan was. Even after Barrow took the lead, Town were unable to raise their game, and for once the substitutions failed to provide any momentum. Town put themselves under pressure all game and the team looked tired out. We haven't suddenly become a bad side. This was a low energy, lethargic performance. The players will need to recharge their batteries before Saturday's game at Hartlepool.
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