13.1.2015

Vanarama Conference North

Barrow

Cook (86), Sheridan (89)

Hednesford Town

McGee (78)

(0) 2

(0) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

822

Glenn Walker

D L L L D W D W W L

Chorley (H) 17.1.15

The Pitmen's recent unbeaten run was checked this evening by title-chasers Barrow, as the big-spending Cumbrian side snatched all three points courtesy of a late two-goal salvo

The weekend's 2-0 win over Lowestoft had moved the Pitmen within touching distance of the play-offs, with Rob Smith's side lying only a point off fifth-placed Chorley at the start of play. Smith had been busy in the loan market once again in recent days, bringing in teenage Birmingham City striker George McGee on a month's loan from the skybet Championship side. McGee's introduction was the only change to the squad, as the Pitmen went in search of their sixth game without defeat in the league

Barrow had spent much of the season clinging onto the coat-tails of leaders AFC Fylde in the battle of the big budgets; with both sides playing this evening, Darren Edmondson's side were looking to keep the pressure on Fylde after being turned over twice by the newly-promoted side over Christmas

The Pitmen made a bright start to proceedings, with successive corners finally forcing Tony McMillan into making a save at the second attempt

Smith and his management team were forced into a hasty reshuffle on eleven minutes, as centre-back Paul McCone was forced off due to injury. With fellow Chris Westwood still not fully match fit despite being named amongst the substitutes, Alex Melbourne came on in McCone's place and moved Richard Batchelor to centre back

Barrow looked to take advantage of the Pitmen's enforced changes, forcing two corners in a row on sixteen minutes. On both occasions, Jason Walker was guilty of missing the target with a header, glancing one over the crossbar and the second one wide after strike partner Andy Cook had headed the ball back into his path

A minute later, the Pitmen headed narrowly wide themselves following a set-piece, with Tom Thorley's free-kick headed well wide of goal courtesy of the top of Ben Bailey's head

Both sides were battling hard in midfield, with Jamey Osborne and Thorley giving as good as they got from a powerful Barrow midfield duo. Osborne's recent upturn in form in recent games highlighted why the youngster had been linked with a number of football league sides since the start of the month

The hosts continued to have the better of the chances from set-pieces, with Walker a constant threat in the air. A Sam Sheridan free kick on thirty-six minutes caused confusion in the Hednesford ranks, allowing Walker to fire narrowly wide of goal at the far post after the loose ball dropped to him

Great link-up play involving Cook and Walker opened the Pitmen up once again on forty minutes, as Walker slipped the ball through to Cook; Bailey did well to force the striker away from goal, with Cook firing into the side netting under pressure from the centre back

The Pitmen emerged with more purpose at the start of the second half, having had time to regroup at the back and re-evaluate their hardworking first-half display. Steve Diggin was first to get amongst the chances at the start of the second half, seeing his goalbound effort deflected away for a corner by Barrow skipper Simon Grand. From the resultant corner kick, Darren Campion played the ball across to the unmarked James Hurst, who fired well wide of goal with a powerfully struck low drive

Jack Thomas and Melbourne both incurred the wrath of the referee in quick succession, with both players receiving yellow cards for late tackles. They were followed into the book five minutes later by Batchelor, who made a late lunge on Walker and mistimed his challenge by bringing the big striker down

The Pitmen started to sense that there may be more on offer than just a well-earned point and pushed forwards in search of an unlikely win. Melbourne tried his luck from long range on seventy minutes, driving a shot just over the crossbar with a rising effort that had McMillan stretching

With seventeen minutes remaining, McGee was given his first run-out for the club as he came on in place of Diggin up front

The teenager made an immediate impact on the game, using his scorching pace to good use two minutes after coming on to get the better of Grand and slip the ball into the path of Glenn Walker, who fired straight at McMillan from sixteen yards out

McGee was not to be denied on his debut, however, as he put the Pitmen into the lead with twelve minutes remaining. Neat build-up play involving Walker and Osborne saw McGee played in on goal, with his initial shot blocked en route to goal. The rebound bounced kindly for him, allowing the 17-year-old to slot he ball home between McMillan's legs from close range for his first-ever goal in senior football

The inevitable Barrow fightback pushed Hednesford back into their own third of the pitch as the game ticked into the last ten minutes, with the game having the same feel to it as the play-off semi-final second leg against Altrincham last term - had the Pitmen scored too early and left the opposition too much time to get up a head of steam?

Unfortunately, it proved to be an almost carbon copy of that game at Moss Lane last May, as Barrow's momentum got them level once more on eighty-six minutes; a deep cross from the right was volleyed home at the far post by Cook, confidently firing past a despairing Dan Crane

The away side simply couldn't escape their own penalty area in a frenetic final few minutes, with Barrow exerting severe pressure on a patched-up Hednesford back line as news of a Fylde goal at Solihull Moors filtered through to the Holker Street faithful

With a minute remaining, a free-kick conceded thirty yards out allowed Sheridan the opportunity to test Crane's reflexes, firing a superb shot beyond the reach of the Hednesford keeper to break the hearts of the Hednesford supporters who endured the long trip north for a Tuesday night game

Paul Sullivan came on late on in place of Glenn Walker, but could not rescue the point that the Pitmen had fought so valiantly for all game. The Pitmen's first defeat of the year will be a bitter pill to swallow, considering the position they played themselves into with twelve minutes left. It is testament to the confidence in the side at present that they will consider a narrow defeat to a big-spending side as a disappointment, and will look to carry this confidence into another tough game at the weekend when Chorley visit Keys Park for the first time in two seasons

Barrow: McMillan, Burns, Wilmer-Anderton, Lacey, Cowperthwaite, Grand, Ellison (Ledsham 70), Sheridan, Walker, Cook, Cribley (Gorman 78)      Subs Unused: Pritchard, McWilliams, Willis

 

Hednesford Town: Crane, Hurst, Campion ©, Bailey, McCone (Melbourne 11 ), Thorley, Osborne, Walker (Sullivan 90), Diggin (McGee 73), Thomas , Batchelor ▆      Subs Unused: Robinson, Westwood