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Winter is Coming
Winter is Coming

Maintaining the Continuum

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 03/10/2023

THERE is much talk around the club of continuous improvement. There's no doubt that off the pitch the club has moved forward. It's true also that on the pitch we've risen from the National League but it seems more a case of fits and starts.

I find myself brimming with hope for spells of 20 to 30 minutes, and then wondering the heavy dosages of confusion are down to shortfalls of player skill or mentality, or reflective of messages coming from the manager. There is a theory that de rigueur, Town get worse during the autumn and winter season. I'm not a great student of statistics but did look back at the last five seasons. I found that taking league games alone, our win - draw - loss record is 10 - 7 - 12, so hardly inspiring and less so when you think we were putting teams like Dover and Barnet to the sword. It gets worse in November.

This evening's opponents are Barrow. I don't know what they or we have done to cause the fixture compiler to determine that this fixture should place on a Tuesday night but this is now the fifth consecutive time that this has happened. Barrow sit in mid-table. I don't know any of their supporters to know what their aspirations are, but after a tricky first season they seem to have consolidated their position in the division.

Town's line up this evening was: Eastwood - Mullarkey, Rodgers, Waterfall, Efete - Conteh, Andrews - Khan, Holohan, Eisa - Rose. Conteh and Holohan return. Clifton and Hunt miss out. It's never easy to tell but this looks like an improvement. It does seem strange that we have two left backs on the books but neither is playing and it makes you wonder if Mr Hurst has lost confidence in them. 4,882 spectators were here, 51 having made the long trip from Barrow.

It was a breezy night. Efete and Rodgers slipped after the earlier rain. Arrow in yellow started in the Town half but Town quickly responded. Khan crossed well to Rose who couldn't get any power on the header. Andrews was then tackled in the box. Gotts threatened with a good run for Barrow, earning a corner. Eisa won one for Town on 10 minutes, and followed up with a long-range shot. Barrow's defence seemed obdurate. Campbell did well with a run and shot, firing a ferocious shot wide. Holohan, who earlier made a good interception, started a move on 15 minutes and passed to Eisa. Entering the box, Eisa was tripped by Chester - penalty to Town. Eisa stepped up, underhit it and keeper Farman was in place to save. The Barrow defender ran in to beat Eisa and clear the danger. Conteh did a good job to mop up after good work from close range by Newby. Telford went close as Barrow threatened. A Campbell through pass saw Gotts through but Waterfall was on hand. Barrow looked solid and were posing more of a threat. The crowd was quiet. Nothing to see here. Conteh was booked for a robust tackle on Newby in Town's half. Spence fired in a decent shot which Eastwood gathered. Conteh started a move but a poor Mullarkey pass ended it. Holohan then was guilty after Andrew's started another move, but redeemed himself with a nice ball to Eisa whose shot was poor. 36 minutes had passed when Efete linked with Eisa on the left. Efete crossed. Rose ran on between the defenders and deftly flicked the ball home - great anticipation. Town 1, Barrow 0. Town won a corner on 42 minutes after battling work by Holohan. Barrow went close when Gotts burst through Town's defence, the shot going inches wide. Just before half-time Barrow went close again when Newby rounded Mullarkey, Eastwood getting a hand on the cross before Telford could get on the end of it. At half-time it remained 1 - 0. Even so Town could consider themselves fortunate as hard-working Barrow looked more comfortable in their movement. Town needed to improve their passing and composure, but credit to Rose for his alertness.

Town started the second half brightly. Andrews was penalised when trying to punch a hole between two defenders. A Conteh foul saw Barrow with a free kick. Town struggled to clear. Barrow looked good on the ball. After some neat play by Town, Rodgers committed a foul in Town's half. Town regained possession with some good work by Holohan but his through ball was poor. Barrow still looked confident and launched an attack on 55 minutes. Rodgers cut out a cross before Spence sliced his shot with Efete in attendance. Waterfall was penalised for handball 25 yards out. Barrow made a mess of the free kick but Eastwood made a poor clearance, resulting in a period of intense pressure by Barrow. Acquainted slammed a shit which Eastwood did well to block, then it was Eastwood again who was in the right place as Garner went close. Ray headed wide as Barrow launched wave upon wave of attacks. Town were struggling. Maher replaced Khan on 64 minutes to add defensive support. 68 minutes had gone. Holohan won a free kick to ease the pressure momentarily. Town were competing and getting out of tricky situations. Mullarkey cleverly escaped from a tight spot. Barrow had most of the possession, and continued to probe. On 73 minutes Clifton and Wilson replaced Conteh and Eisa. On 75 minutes Andrews got into a battle in midfield and did brilliantly to win the ball and see space ahead. Andrews's curling ball was met by the advancing Wilson who for the second game running scored within seconds of coming on, slotting the ball home under Farman. Town 2, Barrow 0. Four minutes later Town struggled to clear the ball out of defence. Garner received the ball, chipping it over the defence to Foley who slid the ball home. Town 2, Barrow 1. Barrow moved the ball around. Town struggled to clear the ball. Stephenson misplaced a shot. Waterfall cut out a cross-corner. Canavan had a header saved. Pyle replaced Rose on 84 minutes. Town won a free-kick. Andrews delivered. Holohan volleyed. Farman saved. Barrow attacked. Town resisted. The ball was played out. Clifton ran on but his cross was poor. Barrow came back. Efete made a block. Barrow had a corner. Holohan committed a foul. 6 minutes were added. Town defended desperately. Stephenson's header from close range went over. Acquah attacked from the left. Spence ran on. Efete was hit on the head and the game stopped. Barrow took the ball from the drop. Eastwood gathered the cross.

If character is part of continuous improvement, then we're laughing. The improvement lies in the 3 points won. All is well. But only just after a valiant effort against a lively Barrow side.

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