Barrow extended their lead at the top of the Vanarama National League table to seven points with a 1-0 victory against Dover.
Ian Evatt’s men are flying this season and this looks to be the season that the Bluebirds return to the Football League after 50 years away. Their nearest challengers are Harrogate, Halifax and Yeovil and those three rivals would need to make up three games to get near the Cumbrian side.
It was my first ever National League game and I probably couldn’t have picked a more unusual fixture. The two sides have now faced off twice in the last couple of weeks with both fixtures falling on midweek dates. Just the 734-mile round trip!
Similarly to the Bluebirds defeat at Dover a couple of weeks ago, Ian Evatt’s men dominated the game from the outset and missed numerous chances, however this time they weren’t left to rue their poor finishing as Dion Angus followed up on Scott Quigley’s effort to tap home the only goal of the evening.
The hosts came flying out the traps and had three chances in the opening five minutes. Josh Kay’s cross was blasted over by Patrick Brough, Dior Angus was tackled seconds before he was about to burst the net and then when Brough got on the end of another cross but sent his effort wide.
The hosts had the ball in the net on the 11th minute when Quigley slammed home but Angus was flagged offside earlier in the move.
Barrow continued to pile the pressure on the Whites defence and came close again on the 32nd minute when John Rooney’s corner was headed goal bound before being cleared off the line by Aaron Simpson.
It was a similar story in the second half as the home side continued to miss opportunities as this time Dan Jones’ throw-in ran all the way through to Rooney, who could only slice his effort wide of the post.
There was a lengthy stoppage soon after when Dover defender Kevin Lokko was clattered by his own goalkeeper, Ashley Maynard-Brewer. The reactions from some of the visiting players were worrying as some stood with their hands on their head.
The delay in play didn’t stop Barrow’s momentum though as they eventually broke the deadlock on the 73rd minute. Quigley beat his man and his curling effort was brilliantly saved by Maynard-Brewer, but Angus was on-hand to follow up the rebound.
It was almost 2-0 five minutes later when Rooney broke into the box, squared it to Quigley and he was denied as Maynard-Brewer made another fine save from point-blank range.
Quigley spurned another opportunity on the 81st minute when he rounded the keeper after being played in but lost his balance and fired his effort well over the bar. The leagues top goal scorer would have been left wondering what he had to do to score.
There was ten minutes additional time added, with Dover throwing everything at the league leaders, but the Bluebirds survived what was an edgy end to the game to move one step closer to a return to the Football League.
Full-Time- Barrow AFC 1-0 Dover Athletic
Dixon, Jones, Hird, Platt, Brough, Kay, White, Hardcastle(90), Rooney, Quigley(90), Angus(90)
Subs- Brown, Taylor(90), Dyson, Soule(90), Harrison(90)
Maynard-Brewer, Simpson, De Havilland, Reason(68), Lokko(62), Ogie, Taylor, Woods, Effiong, Munns, Rigg(78)
Subs- L’Ghoul, Modeste(68), Cumberbatch, Rooney(62), Poleon(78)
Referee- James Bell
Yellow Cards- Munns(27), Jones(88)
Red Cards- N/A