Monday, 2 May 2016

Hornets Dig Deep to Upset Barrow

Barrow 4 - Hornets 18

Typical. You wait 10 years for a win at Barrow, then two come at once. Hornets secured a second win this season at Craven Park in a scrappy penalty-ridden game carved up by a rolling tableau of flare-ups.

That the game produced more penalties than points tells its own story, but while Barrow strove to break up the game’s rhythm, Hornets stuck to the task to produce what little lucid football was on. offer.

Indeed, Hornets received back-to-back penalties in the earliest exchanges to set the tone. On 7 minutes a huge Ben Moores break up the guts of the Barrow defence ended with a penalty for a high-shot. Paul Crook coolly slottting the kick to open the scoring: 0-2.

On 11 minutes tempers boiled over and Ben Moores and Barrow winger Haney were dispatched for ten minutes.

Within two minutes of his return to the field, Haney was yellow carded again for holding down in the tackle, after Dale Bloomfield had won the foot-race to regather a Crooky kick straight from the back of a scrum. Hornets were swift to capitalise on the numerical advantage.

Having forced a drop-out, Hornets shuttled the ball wide to the right where Dale Bloomfield squeezed in by the flag. Crooky off the touchline with the extras and Hornets on-top at 0-8 on the half hour.

Hornets continued to press hard, but progress was difficult as play repeatedly broke down. And it was in a scrappy phase that Hornets were given a penalty bang in front. Crooky happy to oblige, 0-10.

With the half running down Barrow produced their one moment of open play in 80 minutes; quick hands wide for Pitman to score on the hooter. Half-time 4-10.

The second half followed suit: this time Barrow with seemingly inexplicable penalties; Chris Riley compelled to mop up a kick into the in-goal. Then a Hornets penalty took them upfield where they forced a repeat set. From the ensuing possession a Paul Crook kick ricocheted into the hands of Jono Smith who stepped past defenders to score untouched. Paul Crook the two, Hornets stretching the lead to 4-16.

A misjudgement from Jack Francis saw the kick-off bounce dead, and Barrow seized the momentum: three consecutive sets tested the Hornets defence, but some gutsy resistance ultimately forced an error. Impressive stuff.

On 70 minutes, Paul Crook unzipped the Barrow defence, a clinical break through centre field. And as the Ginger General ended the set with a kick to the corner, he was hit late with a shoulder. Crooky climbed off the floor to bang over the penalty. A flawless five from five; Hornets pretty much home and hosed at 4-18.

Barrow spend the last ten minutes aimlessly hurling themselves onto a Hornets defence that was happy to dump them on their backsides: the game ending with trademark handbags.

In the wash-up, this was an ugly dog of a game: Barrow spectacularly clueless on attack, their half-back Dallimore displaying all the strategic attributes of a card-board cut-out, drawing the ire of the locals around us who branded him ‘clueless’: his side painfully reduced to breaking-up the game to the point of stasis. Conversely, Hornets displayed both graft and craft to find a way round this mire. With robust, resolute defence at the heart of this performance, Hornets were impressively relentless and march-on unbeaten at the top of League 1.