Bluebirds defeated as they fail to heed Vale threat
Barrow 0-2 Port Vale
Barrow missed the chance to extend their advantage over their relegation rivals, as they were beaten by in-form Port Vale at Holker Street.
Rob Kelly made three changes to the team that lost to Leyton Orient, with Matt Platt making his return from injury, alongside Kgosi Ntlhe and Tom Beadling, in place of Tom Davies, Ollie Banks and Chris Taylor.
In the fiery opening exchanges that saw three men booked inside the first 10 minutes, Barrow were the first to see an opening, when Ntlhe had a header blocked from Neil Eardley’s corner, before Jason Taylor fired wide.
Another dangerous set-piece from Eardley then found Bobby Thomas but the Burnley loanee couldn’t keep his effort from rising harmlessly over the crossbar.
At the other end, Joel Dixon had to save at the feet of Kurtis Guthrie, getting a boot in the face for his troubles, as the visitors began to grow further into the game.
The Barrow stopper had to make another good save, this time to deny Cristian Montano one-on-one, but there was little he could do about the opening goal.
Dixon’s goal kick into the centre of the pitch wasn’t convincingly won by either side, until the ball sat up in front of Tom Conlon, who unleased an audacious but perfectly struck volley over the stranded keeper and into the goal from almost the halfway line.
The Bluebirds felt they should have had an opportunity to draw level from the spot on the stroke of halftime, when Beadling was felled in the area by Andy Haines, but the only whistle forthcoming from the referee was the one to signal the interval.
The second half saw Barrow mostly on the front foot but struggled to break down the organised Vale defence and failing to create any notable chances or efforts on goal to worry Scott Brown.
Indeed, the next goal of the game was to go the visitors way again, doing what the Bluebirds couldn’t and sliced through the defence with Will Swan. Ntlhe did superbly to make up ground and slide in with an inch perfect tackle, only to see the ball break kindly for Conlan to smash in his second of the game.
Barrow finally tested Brown shortly after the restart, but his thunderous strike from the edge of the area was palmed away by the Valiants’ number one.
Brown had to do even better to deny Luke James a consolation goal as the match drew to a close, getting down well to his right to fingertip the ball away, making sure his side came away with a clean sheet to go with their three points.
Barrow AFC (3-5-2): Dixon; Thomas, Platt, Ntlhe; Eardley (Andrew 66), Barry, Beadling (Devitt 79), J.Taylor (Banks 66), Brough; James, Quigley. Subs not used: Moloney, Brown, C.Taylor.
Port Vale (4-3-3): Brown; Smith, Legge, Brisley, Montano; Burgess (Whitehead 63), Joyce, Conlon; Worrall, Cullen (Pope 46), Guthrie (Swan 63). Subs not used: Scott, Gibbons, Amoo, McKirdy.