Bluebirds battle to rock Robins.
Cheltenham Town 0-2 Barrow AFC
It’s often said that you make your own luck in football. That was certainly the case at Whaddon Road, as Barrow beat table-topping Cheltenham Town thanks to two goals that were as deserved as they were lucky.
Rob Kelly made three changes to the side that beat Walsall, with the caretaker boss bringing in Neil Eardley, Ollie Banks and Josh Kay for Brad Barry, Jamie Devitt and Luke James, respectively.
The Bluebirds got off to a flying start when James Jones’ scuffed ball into the box somehow found its way into the far bottom corner, past the swinging boot of Ben Tozer and the late dive of the deceived Josh Griffiths, to put Barrow ahead after only two minutes.
Finn Azaz went close to rapidly pulling his side level, but his effort went just the wrong side of the post, before Scott Quigley almost doubled Barrow’s lead at the other end when he fired a shot that flashed into the side netting.
Last week’s match winner, Josh Kay, then tried his luck from distance, but Griffiths was equal to his low drive, but it was Barrow’s goal that was to see the bulk of the action as the Robins began to lay siege.
First, Neil Eardley did superbly to hook the ball off the line after Dixon was beaten by Sam Smith’s clipped shot. Liam Sercombe then had a powerful strike well saved by the Bluebirds keeper, to preserve Barrow’s slender advantage.
The Bluebirds had the ball in the net for the second time, only for Quigley to be denied by the linesman’s flag in a rare moment of respite for Barrow, before action swung back down the pitch.
Dixon was again called into action at his near post to keep out Chris Hussey, but could only watch on as the follow-up crashed off the woodwork. Then a combination of phenomenal reflexes by Dixon and a second goalline clearance – this time from Patrick Brough – saw the Bluebirds take their lead into half-time at the expense of Alfie May.
Cheltenham started the second half back on the front foot, pinning Barrow back in search of an equaliser, but the organised Bluebirds made things tough for the hosts, limiting their time and space in dangerous areas, frustrating the league leaders.
Frustration was turned into exasperation in the 66th minute, when Barrow found themselves 2-0 up in the most fortuitous of circumstances.
Bobby Thomas’ long throw arced to the near post, causing a moment of panic for Griffiths, awkwardly fumbling the ball into the back of his own defender, Sean Long, who was almost unaware as the rest of the players watched the ball bounce over the line.
The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the home side and substitute Luke James could have put the cherry on top, but his shot from the edge of the area had the sting taken out of it on its way into the arms of Griffiths, as the Bluebirds comfortably saw the game out to complete an impressive double over the league leaders.
Cheltenham Town (3-5-2): Griffiths; Long, Tozer, Freestone (Chapman 70); Blair, Sercombe, Thomas (Wright 70), Azaz (Vassilev 59), Hussey; May, Smith (Williams 59). Subs not used: Flinders, Horton, Chamberlain.
Barrow AFC (3-5-2): Dixon; J.Jones, Davies, Ntlhe (Thomas 46); Eardley, C.Taylor (Devitt 64), Banks, J.Taylor, Brough; Kay (James 64), Quigley (Sea 90). Subs not used: Lillis, Ndjoli.