Date: 17th November 2013 at 8:38am
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All`s well, that ends well…..I suppose, and it ended well enough at Holker Street today,where County scrapped out a draw to take a combative Barrow side back to Edgeley Park on Tuesday for a replay in the FA Trophy.

After winning 4-2 , with some ease ,not so long ago against the same opponents, there will be those less than impressed with a draw, but it could have been worse,particularly when County`s propensity for defensive buffoonery surfaced and the Cumbrians took the lead thanks to an inglorious own goal.

Less than 3 minutes later and County levelled it when Turner`s speed brought a foul from the home side and a penalty for County which Jevens put away with consummate ease.

Having reached half time level, I expected the Hatters to take the game to their opponents, but within 3 minutes of the re-start those same opponents were ahead when livewire Nick Rushton fired home from the spot after a hand to ball moment in County`s box.

Things looked iffy for a time after this, despite Jevens and Turner looking bankers to turn Barrow over, and it took Rushton`s substitution on 70 minutes to turn the tide for County- Jordan Fagbola marking his return to the side with a superb glancing header that made it 2-2.

That was the end of the scoring as both sides toiled away striving for the winner,County urged on by Jevens and Turner, and buttressed by Fagbola….Barrow by ex Hatter Sam Sheridan who was in tip top form.

Back to 3 o`clock and the Flyer had seen us to Holker Street in good time to duck into the Cross Bar, and then make our way in suitably refreshed.

The usual turnstile hassle ,in these parts , was swerved past nicely and I was inside the ground in time to realise that Fagbola and Ormson were both back in County`s starting line up along with Turner , who I was particularly pleased to see, bearing in mind his proficiency last time we were here.

The early minutes just brought neck ache however as both sides lifted the pill high into the dank Cumbrian afternoon air.

County did work a couple of half decent moves together however, but Jevens shot ,after he had linked up neatly with Dennis, was comfortably saved by Tony McMillan in the Barrow goal, and another through ball from Turner ,moments later,proved a shade too strong for Dennis.

Good work followed from Fagbola ,who blocked Jamie Allen neatly after Craig Ratcliffe had sent him on a run.

That was 5 minutes gone…….the sixth ushered in a mini trauma for County when Charnock miss read a ball that whizzed into the box from a dizzy height.

The bounce did for him and Ormson was sold well and truly short with Duran Reynolds darting past Charnock towards the ball.

Somehow Ormson did the biz ,and got the ball, but once again, and so early on, County`s central defence had raised an eyebrow or two!

Another minute and Allen went for a through ball from Sheridan only to find Jacobs on hand to see the danger off, except it wasn`t ( seen off) as Turner conceded a free kick which pushed us back again.

Sheridan, who was to be a regular thorn in County`s side, chose to lump this down Ormson`s throat to rather spoil it for Barrow thankfully.

Still……………..our hosts were having more of the ball as far as I could see, it was just that they had little idea about finishing , as Reynolds proved 10 minutes in, by spraying a poor shot way wide.

County by way of contrast,were getting forward less frequently than their opponents at this juncture, and it was good to see Jevens control a lofted clearance brilliantly before turning past his man and setting off for goal.

Chance?………..possibly……but the shot was a foot wide and it stayed at 0-0.

At this point I began to wonder a bit about the County plan of action. All hands were back defending with Barrow on the ball, and now via Sheridan were happy to get the ball down.

Twice they pressed,and both times they were repelled…….by Turner, who seemed to be filling an auxiliary right back role when Jaobs ventured forward!

Rhys seemed to be doing this unaccustomed role well, but I wondered whether someone else , maybe Moses or Platt, might be better suited!

I was still pondering that one when Turner burst clear to link up with Jevens.

It looked particularly good did this, especially when Turner`s final ball freed Jevens in sight of goal, but McMillan did well to keep the Jevens strike out and it remained 0-0.

On it went with Barrow continuing to shade it slightly thanks to Sheridan`s use of the ball and the lively work of Allen, Radcliffe and Rushton, and a loose ball from Gosset put County under the cosh with Marcus Carver in on goal.

It really did look dicey as Carver advanced through the middle, but Fagbola did brilliantly to get a late block in and save the day. It was a corner of course but Ormson made a decent save when Sheridan`s shot came in!

Although County had defending to do, when they ventured up field they did look capable of maybe inflicting damage on their opponents, particularly Turner and Jevens , who combined with Platt to tear into Barrow, 25 minutes in.

A foul followed………then a free kick, but Barrow survived somehow long enough to almost capitalise when Ormson had ` a moment`.

It was nothing really….just a slight over confidence maybe….a slowness to welly the ball clear that almost let Carver in.

It didn`t, so no probs………..but I was tutting once again less than a minute later when Charnock conceded a ridiculously cheap corner with an almost impossibly poor `back pass`.

County survived this when Jacobs headed a Reynolds effort out, but it was far from edifying!

This seemed to buoy the home side and Fagbola did well to stop Rushton when Radcliffe put him through, but County replied via Jevens who was stopped by ex Hatter Danny O`Donnell as he sped onto a cute pass by Dennis.

`That was better` I told myself, but I hadn`t reckoned with County`s capacity to implode at the drop of a hat!

It started with Moses who , with the ball within reach, seemed more anxious to have a row with Turner than get the ball to safety.

Consequently Barrow had the ball, most notably Radcliffe , who lifted the ball back towards the danger zone.

OK…… was notionally a dangerous moment, but the situation was very saveable , but not when Platt met it with his head and planted the firmest of headers past Ormson into the net.

It was 1-0 to Barrow and the locals were partying and enjoying the moment!

Yes…………it was not great from a County view point, but the angst lasted but 3 minutes when County leveled things up.

It was another Jevens/ Turner link up that did the trick ,as the former sent the latter darting clear in familiar fashion.

Turning inside, things looked up for the County youngster, but contact with a defender had him on the ground, and the referee wasted no time in pointing to the spot.

It was a penalty, and Jevens tucked it away with practised ease to make it 1-1.

Both teams set about getting a lead after this……..Dennis and Turner being unlucky with a neat bit of work for County, and Rushton going close for Barrow.

Then McMillan kept a Dennis shot out after Turner had ran at the home back line at speed.

Yes………………it was end to end now to a degree , but I looked on with disapproval to see Fagbola penalised for ………well …………….you tell me………….. the free kick again pushed us back and Sheridan did brilliantly to pick Carver out and he was in behind the County cover.

It was definitely brown trousers time for County, but Carver`s control let him down and the ball flew off him for a goal kick, much to County`s relief!

Sheridan was warming to his task now and another cross field ball from him sent Rushton darting clear down the right. He looked well set upon reaching the by-line, but under pressure from Duxbury he lost the ball at the last gasp!

With half time nearing my irritation with Mr J Johnson, the referee, grew in intensity as he contrived to book Fagbola as he and a forward briefly came together to no great moment.It was nonesense ,but one of many we were destined to suffer from this official.

Jevens cleared the free kick, and despite the best efforts of the energetic Sheridan, County reached the break level at 1-1.

This situation was not to last long ,and I peered through the advancing gloom that the floodlights were struggling in vain to pierce, to hear the unmistakable sound of ball striking hand in the County box , from a free kick after Rushton had rather laid County`s left flank waste with a tasty run.

I saw it not, but gathered it was Fagbola`s hand that did the deed, and once more Mr Johnson pointed to the spot, setting Rushton up to make it 2-1 to the home side!

Were County wilting after this? I do not think so, but you could be pardoned for thinking so as Barrow pushed them back again teasing out another cheap free kick for Sheridan to salivate over!

He did as well, and picked Rushton out to boot, but the deftest of headers just missed out…….just!

County needed to sharpen up, and not give the officials any chance to penalise them as a vociferous home crowd was aiming for.

That said……. the next minute saw the officials lack of quality serve in County`s favour as Turner found himself stranded offside with a County attack in motion.

Up went the liners flag , but the referee ignored him and allowed play to continue which should have been manna to Platt who was clear down the left, but instead of breaking the net with his shot Platt fluffed the chance and it stayed 2-1 to Barrow.

That just might have been a crucial miss, as the free kicks mounted against County…..and the bookings as home forwards went to ground with regularity and the referee obliged the home specs in alarming fashion.

Fagbola then did well to deny Alex-Ray Harvey after some pressure from Barrow, but County went closer than their opponents ….. twice…… through Turner ,and once via Dennis`s but without any reward .

Ormson meanwhile came out quickly to beat Carver to the ball on the edge of the box,at which point AL replaced Platt with Liam Dickinson, which seemed about right to me!

County`s front 3 now lined up……..Turner, Dickinson, Dennis, but the first action after the change saw Fagbola working wonders to stop Harvey on the break.That was good, but a minute or so later the ball was in the County net, as a shot by Rushton came back to Carver who fired it home.

“Goal” thought the home specs, but they were wrong as the referee had seen an infringement and it remained 1-2.

We needed County to tighten up……. press on, and take their chances if and when they came, but instead Gosset promptly leathered a free kick straight down McMillan`s throat when something altogether better was called for.

Something altogether better was called for from the Referee also, but he responded to the baying of the local loonies by flourishing a yellow card in Jacobs face, for what looked a very decent tackle indeed.

Turner went clear next only to be ruled offside…..then he forced a corner, but still County failed to test McMillan, instead their latest free kick ( Jacobs) again only managed to oblige him with catching practise.

County were working at it though, and the latest raid, on 75 minutes, saw a queue of County players gagging for a shot at goal.

It seemed they would be denied……they were denied……until the ball pinged over again from the right and Fagbola met it with the deftest of glancing headers to level things!

That was excellent, and Fagbola`s name rang out in the Cumbrian darkness in response, but not for long as Ormson had another of his little moments sending a deplorably bad `clearance` straight to the feet of Allen!

It looked a shoo-in, but Allen opted for a rapid fire volley and although it was on target, Ormson was able to dive to his left and keep it out!

That was gruesome stuff and I guess young Ian knew it- thankfully Fagbola continued to shine, doing well to dispossess Carver in a dangerous position!

Lofthouse was now on for Gosset with time running out, and he went close following a free kick for a foul on Turner not long after.

Both teams went on trying to get that elusive winner but it just would not come, and probably that was as it should be- both teams looked well capable of winning and losing this game, so it will be interesting to see what surfaces from both on Tuesday at Edgeley Park.

County need a cup run for obvious reasons and just possibly might have a better chance with the backing of the County faithful to keep this small dream alive.

See you there!

County line up:

Ormson, Jacobs, Fagbola, Charnock, Duxbury, Moses, Platt ( Dickinson 60), Gossett( Lofthouse 80), Turner, Jevens, Dennis.
Subs not used; Jones, O`Halloran, Howard.

Barrow line up:

McMillan, Burns, Radcliffe, Sheridan, O`Donnell, Reynolds, Rushton, Davies, Carver, Harvery, Allen.

Attendance: 727

Ian Brown


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