Match Report – Barrow AFC 1 – 0 Grimsby Town

Grimsby Town were handed their first away defeat since the opening day of the season as they were beaten by Barrow.

The Mariners worked hard throughout the contest on a rainy night in Cumbria but found chances hard to come by.

At the other end, they were indebted to Max Crocombe as his penalty save from Josh Kay kept the scores level at the break.

But the keeper could do nothing to stop what proved to be the only goal of the game as Billy Waters struck with 15 minutes to go.

Two changes were made to the Grimsby team following the goalless draw with Bradford City on Saturday.  Jordan Cropper and Bryn Morris both made their returns to the starting line-up, with Anthony Glennon and Brendan Kiernan missing out.

Crocombe started in goal, with Michee Efete moving to left-back as Luke Waterfall, Andy Smith and Cropper completed the defence.  Kieran Green sat behind the midfield of Harry Clifton, Gavan Holohan, Morris and Otis Khan, with Ryan Taylor leading the attack.

The substitutes were Niall Maher, Alex Hunt, Evan Khouri, Stephen Wearne, Keyendrah Simmonds, Lewis Richardson and Aribim Pepple.

Barrow made an excellent start to the season but a loss of form in recent weeks had seen them slip down the League Two table, with four consecutive defeats coming before last weekend’s draw at Gillingham.

Manager Pete Wild would be looking to the likes of David Moyo and Waters to provide the firepower and help secure a first league victory for his side side since September 17.

An early foul by Cropper gave Barrow their first opportunity to attack but Smith was first to the ball from Patrick Brough on the left, before a low ball from Kay was cleared by Waterfall.

Another home free kick followed on the right after a foul by Clifton and this time, it was Green who got the ball away.  The hosts were then caught offside when the ball was sent back into the penalty area.

A cross from Tyrell Warren on the right had to be put behind for a corner by Cropper as Barrow’s promising start to the game continued, although Waterfall headed the ball from the flag away from danger.

Crocombe made a great save on 12 minutes when Waters found his way in behind the Town defence, with the keeper making himself big to block the former Halifax striker’s shot.

Ben Whitfield won a corner for the hosts seven minutes later but Crocombe claimed the ball from it, before Town’s first opening came when Taylor picked up a loose ball and made his way into the box, although his shot was blocked and a foul was then given against him.

Another Whitfield cross was blocked for a corner by Efete but Crocombe was first to it again to punch clear.  The home side kept possession though and when the ball was sent back into the box, an attempted clearance from Smith sliced against the crossbar before Whitfield smashed a low rebound wide of the far post.

The Barrow pressure continued with a free kick on 25 minutes and from it, there was a chance for Moyo as he met Whitfield’s delivery, although the striker’s header flew just wide of Crocombe’s target.

Cropper’s first chance to use his long throw came three minutes later and Green flicked the ball on inside the box but the hosts cleared.

Brough was shown the first yellow card of the game just after the half-hour when he was booked for diving after going down under a challenge from Waterfall in an attempt to win a penalty.

Morris tried his luck with a low shot from 25 yards soon afterwards after Holohan had claimed a loose ball but home keeper Paul Farman got down to stop it.

Town’s first corner came on 34 minutes after an over-hit back-pass, although Waterfall was beaten to the ball in the air and a cross from Morris on the opposite left flank was blocked for a throw-in.  Cropper’s throw was headed away by Canavan.

A corner came at the other end after a foul on Holohan was not given and it led to a golden chance for the deadlock to be broken.  The ball from the flag was played low to Kay on the edge of the box and he went down under a challenge from Khan.  The referee pointed to the penalty spot, although the opportunity was not taken as Crocombe blocked Kay’s kick with his feet before diving on the ball.

Town’s response was to win another corner of their own but Khan’s ball from the right beat everybody and curled away for a goal kick.

One added minute was played at the end of the half and  Clifton did well to win a corner on the left in the closing seconds.  Khan’s ball was cut out at the near post but the referee decided there was not time for another flag-kick and blew for half-time.

That meant despite Barrow looking the more likely to take the lead, Crocombe’s penalty save kept the Mariners level at the break.

No changes were made before the restart and a chance for Town came within seconds as Taylor chased the ball down but was unable to lift it over keeper Farman, who made a block.

A Cropper throw was dealt with by the home defence, before a low cross by Efete was put behind for a corner as the away side’s good start to the second half continued.  Khan sent the ball towards Smith at the far post, although it was headed away before it could reach the Hull City loanee.

Waterfall was booked on 51 minutes for bringing Whitfield down inside the Grimsby half and the  card came out again before the free kick was taken as Canavan’s name was taken for dissent.  Whitfield’s ball was then headed clear at the edge of the box and a wayward shot by Tom White went out for a throw-in.

Taylor won a corner on 56 minutes and it turned into another when a shot by Holohan was deflected behind at the near post.  This time, Smith was unable to get enough on his header to turn it towards goal.

At the other end, Khan blocked a cross from Brough as the hosts won a corner on the left.  Whitfield sent the ball to the far post but Canavan’s close-range header went over the bar.

Sam Foley replaced Harrison Neal in the home midfield just after the hour as boss Wild made the first substitution of the evening.

Efete won a throw-in on the right soon afterwards but when Cropper’s throw dropped for Waterfall, his shot was blocked.  Barrow broke but Efete got back to stop the attack, at the expense of a throw.

Cropper then blocked a cross from Kay for a corner on the home left but Crocombe got to the ball from the flag with a punch and the referee blew for a foul on the keeper.

A shot by Clifton from distance took a heavy deflection and bounced through to Farman, before Barrow’s second change saw Josh Gordon replace Moyo in attack

Richardson came on for Khan as Town boss Paul Hurst turned to his bench for the first time.

But when the breakthrough eventually came on 75 minutes, it was the home side who opened the scoring.  Brough sent a low ball into the box from the left and WATERS turned it into the far corner of Crocombe’s net with his left foot.

Town had not looked like scoring so far but now had to find a way through the Barrow defence if they were to keep their unbeaten away run going.

Smith stepped in to deal with another Brough cross from the left, but the hosts had the momentum and they could have doubled their lead but a cross-shot from Waters was just too far ahead of Gordon for him to capitalise.

Hunt, Simmonds and Pepple were sent on for Green, Taylor and Morris as the Mariners looked for a way back into the game with 12 minutes to go.

Another substitution came on 81 minutes as Whitfield was replaced by Myles Kenlock in the blue and white of Barrow.

Cropper was penalised for a foul on Gordon moments later but Kay’s low free kick from 30 yards bounced off the Grimsby wall.  The home side kept possession but a header from Gordon was off-target.

Smith had to concede a corner with three minutes to go as Gordon looked to cut inside from the right but the flag-kick caused no problems as the referee blew for a Town free kick.

Four added minutes gave the Mariners further opportunity to find the goal which would rescue a point.

Richardson managed to get away from one defender as Town aimed to create an opening around the edge of the box but after he was crowded out, Hunt was booked for a foul which stopped a home break.

That proved to be the last opportunity for the Mariners to attack on what was a disappointing night in the north-west.

They will now look to bounce back on Saturday, when they are back on the road to face Hartlepool United.


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