Bluebirds suffer opening day defeat to Stevenage.
Stevenage F.C. 1-0 Barrow AFC Attendance: 2,536
A solitary lapse in concentration right at the start of the second half was enough to see Barrow’s first game of the season end in defeat at The Lamex Stadium.
Mark Cooper, taking charge of his first competitive game since being appointed in the summer, gave five summer signings their debut, with new captain Mark Ellis taking his spot at the heart of the Bluebirds defence, while Remeao Hutton, Joe Grayson and Josh Gordon were also handed starts, with new stopper Paul Farman between the sticks.
It was the Bluebirds who got off to the brighter start, with the referee waving away an early penalty appeal after Gordon went to ground in the area.
Gordon’s partner in attack for the day, Josh Kay, tested Joseph Anang in the Stevenage goal with a low shot, before the home side lashed an effort wide from distance at the other end.
Barrow ended the half in the ascendency as only a fine block by a Boro defender prevented Patrick Brough from latching onto Ollie Banks’ cross, after he was played in by a neat pass from Gordon.
Any hopes the Bluebirds had of building on that momentum in the second half were scuppered within 30 seconds of the restart.
A Stevenage attack straight from kick-off caught the Barrow defence napping, allowing them easy progress down the right before the ball was cut back along the six-yard box for Jake Reeves to crash in.
The Bluebirds responded well to the setback and should have been back on terms when a dangerous delivery from a Banks set-piece fell to the feet of Jason Taylor, whose shot was blocked before Brough sent his follow-up off target.
Another good chance came and went, when Kay found himself free of the Boro defence, only to place his shot the wrong side of the upright.
Barrow had their new custodian to thank for keeping them in the game, when Farman pulled off a fine stop to keep out Elliott List, before the ex-Carlisle stopper was worked hard again, this time to deny Jamie Reid in stoppage time.
Barrow, however, were left to rue their slow second-half start, as they ran out of time in their search for an equaliser.
Stevenage F.C. (4-4-2): Anang; Wildin, Cuthbert, Vancooten, Coker; Osborne (Carter 67), Taylor, Lines, Reeves (Marshall 90); Reid, Norris (List 67). Subs not used: Bastien, Prosser, Smith, Williams.
Barrow AFC (3-5-2): Farman; Platt (Arthur 46), Ellis, Ntlhe; Hutton, Taylor, Banks, Grayson (Sea 62), Brough; Gordon, Kay (Devitt 62). Subs not used: Moloney, Brown, White, James.