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Very tough trip in prospect for Cards

Brian Caffarey
6:35pm, Wed 5th Apr 2017
Barrow AFC v Woking
Vanarama National League
3pm on Saturday 8 April 2017

Thanks to York City’s unexpected midweek defeat at home to Bromley the Cards remain just above the relegation places as all the teams battling against relegation head into this weekend’s fixtures. The Cards’ narrow win against Sutton United last Saturday looks even more valuable in retrospect. Not many will fancy the Cards’ chances at Holker Street but even a point could be crucial as the relegation battle reaches its climax.

WOKING

The Cards showed a lot of character in grabbing three points at Sutton United’s expense last Saturday. As Garry Hill and Steve Thompson said after the game, the team was ‘on the ropes’ for a good 10 or 15 minutes after Sutton equalised in the second half and a Sutton victory looked highly likely at that point. But the Cards weathered the storm through a combination of brave, last-ditch defending and a helping of good fortune, and then went on to take the game to Sutton, with Gozie Ugwu netting the winner. The scenes at the end showed how much the win meant to Garry, Steve and the players, including the on-loan Connor Hall, whose fresh legs along with those of Gozie and Jake Caprice, helped to turn the tide.

Nathan Ralph, with assists for both goals and a couple of superb defensive tackles, must have strengthened his case for retaining the left-back slot, while Delano Sam-Yorke scored an excellent early header and worked hard for the rest of the game. Jamie Lucas, so impressive against Braintree Town and Maidstone United, had a frustrating afternoon, however.

The Cards, in 20th place, have 44 points from 41 games, with Torquay one place and one point below them and York two places and two points behind. Braintree are on 45 points, while Maidstone are on 47 but with two games in hand. Solihull Moors, in poor form recently and with a tough run-in, are on 48 points. Other key games this weekend include: Aldershot Town v Torquay United, Braintree Town v Dover Athletic, Chester v York City, Gateshead v Maidstone United and Tranmere Rovers v Solihull Moors.

BARROW

The Bluebirds, owned since November 2014 by ambitious Dallas-based businessman, Paul Casson, won the Conference North title in the 2014-15 season. Casson then targeted immediate promotion to the Football League and manager Darren Edmondson paid the price in November 2015 for an unpromising beginning to the campaign. Former Mansfield manager Paul Cox was appointed the next day and eventually led the side to an 11th place finish.

Predictably, there was a big turnover in playing staff last summer. Among the players Cox brought in were Ross Hannah, the former Grimsby Town striker who scored 23 goals for Chester last season; Macclesfield Town captain and midfielder, Paul Turnbull; Luton midfielder Andy Parry, who had been on loan at Barrow; giant Hampton and Richmond central defender, Moussa Diarra; former Chesterfield striker, Byron Harrison, who had also had spells more recently at AFC Wimbledon, Cheltenham Town and Stevenage; Liam Hughes, a 6’4’ central defender from Inverness Caledonian Thistle but better known as a Conference title winner with Cambridge United; and another Conference title winner, right back, Shaun Beeley, formerly with Fleetwood Town and more recently part of Morecambe’s set-up.

Among those players remaining from last season were England C striker Jordan Williams and long-serving midfielder Alex-Ray Harvey.

Recent arrivals include keeper Jonathan Flatt, on loan from Wolves; Matty Platt, a 20-year-old central defender on loan from Blackburn Rovers; his Blackburn team mate, 21-year-old full back/winger, Connor Thomson; Jack Thomas, a midfielder on a youth loan from Mansfield Town; Shaun Tuton, a 25-year-old striker on loan from Barnsley; and Inih Effong, a 6’4� striker signed from Biggleswade Town, who has already netted over 20 goals this season. Akil Wright’s loan from Fleetwood Town has also been extended.

Keeper Joel Dixon, midfielder Andy Parry and striker Dan Cockerline have all missed games recently while they recover from surgery. Defender Shaun Beeley and striker Byron Harrison have been out injured.

Barrow sit in 7th place in the table with 68 points from 41 games, three points off the final play-off place. They have a formidable home record, having won 11, drawn seven and lost only two league games, scoring 33 goals and conceding 14.

GETTING THERE

Barrow AFC
The Furness Building Society Stadium
Wilkie Road
Barrow-in-Furness
Cumbria
LA14 5UW

Official website: www.barrowafc.com

By coach

The Cards Trust is not running a coach to this game. Please get in touch with the Club Shop or Alan Barnes if you’re interested in travelling to Chester on Easter Monday (17 April).

By car
Leave the M6 at J36, taking the A590 (signposted Barrow). Follow A590 all the way to the outskirts of Barrow, entering via industrial route towards the town centre. Passing the fire station on the right, take the next left into Wilkie Road. The ground is on the right-hand side. The AA estimates that the trip would take just over five hours from Woking.

By train

Nearest station: Barrow-in-Furness. But, be warned: industrial action is due to take place on Northern Trains! (The final leg of the journey, from Lancaster to Barrow, would be on Northern Trains.) If the trains are running normally you could get the 10.30 Virgin Trains service from London Euston, arriving at Barrow at 14.07 via a change (only 10 minutes’ leeway) at Lancaster. (According to Northern Trains’ revised timetable, this service from Lancaster is due to run normally.) Returning, the 17.15 from Barrow – also expected to run normally - is due to arrive at Lancaster at 18.18, with a Virgin Trains service at 18.41, arriving at Euston at 21.38.
The station is half a mile from the ground: walking would take around 10 minutes. On leaving the station, exit onto Holker Street and then turn right.

ADMISSION PRICES

Seated: Adults £17, Over 65s £12, Student £10, U17 £8, U11 £3
Standing: Adults £14, Over 65s £11, Student £8, U17 £5, U11 £1

LAST TIME WE MET

Woking 1 AFC Barrow 1
Vanarama National League
22 October 2016

The Cards went into this game against play-off chasing Barrow in confident mood after a midweek replay win over Torquay United in the Emirates FA Cup. But it was Barrow who exerted most of the early pressure, Paul Turnbull hitting a post from a free-kick. Just as Woking appeared to be gaining more of a foothold they fell behind to a Byron Harrison header from a searching cross from Akil Wright.

The Cards grabbed an equaliser early in the second half, on-loan Matt Tubbs converting from the penalty spot after Moussa Diarra went high on Gozie Ugwu in the box. Both sides subsequently went for a win but it was Woking who had to withstand heavy pressure towards the end as Barrow threw in lots of crosses and long throws.

Woking: Brandon Hall, Jake Caprice, Nathan Ralph, Joey Jones, Terell Thomas (Fabio Saraiva 70), Keiran Murtagh, Charlie Carter, Frankie Sutherland (Anthony Edgar 73), Dennon Lewis, Matt Tubbs, (Delano Sam-Yorke 86), Gozie Ugwu

Goals: Tubbs (51)

Unused Subs: Chike Kandi, Andy Little

Barrow: Joel Dixon, Shaun Beeley, Moussa Diarra, Danny Livesey, Nick Anderton, Liam Hughes, Ryan Yates, Paul Turnbull, Akil Wright (Adam Meikle 80’), Richie Bennett (Ross Hannah 60’), Byron Harrison

Goals: Harrison (20)

Unused Subs: Andy Haworth, Alex-Ray Harvey, Euan Murray

Attendance: 1,351

COMING UP

The Cards’ next game is at home to Macclesfield Town at 3pm on Good Friday (14 April). Entry will be free for U16s and only £10 for adults. There will be lots of added attractions too, so bring along family and friends to support the Cards! Make a note now that the Cards’ final home game of the season is against York City on Saturday 22 April. This could prove to be an absolutely crucial relegation battle for both sides, so pull out all the stops to be there!


Come on, you Cards!

Late controversy as battling Cards denied crucial back-to-back win opportunity

Malcolm Wyatt
12:00am, Sat 8th Apr 2017
Barrow 2 Woking 2
Vanarama National League
8th April 2017

A contentious stoppage-time decision at Holker Street saw Woking miss out on all three points after an incident-packed clash amid blue skies on the Cumbrian coast.

The Cards defied their lowly position and twice led in this key clash, but in the end had to settle for a point, referee Andrew Miller ruling out Delano Sam-Yorke’s late strike for a disputed offside call.

It was a tough blow on a day several fellow strugglers picked up crucial points, yet Paul Cox’s hosts – three points adrift of the play-offs - might have been out of sight before the break.

The Surrey visitors made one change from the team that started against Sutton United a week before, with Jake Caprice replacing Charlie Carter, with Joey Jones moving into midfield. Caprice was involved for much of the afternoon.

Barrow made the brighter start, Richie Bennett showing their intentions early, curling a shot round the post after a move started by ex-Preston North End youth Nick Anderton.

Moments later Anderton again put Bennett away, visitors’ keeper Michael Poke keeping the ball out at his near-post with his feet, and Woking successfully defending the corner.

There was good work by Sam-Yorke in Woking’s first attack of note after defender Brian Saah launched upfield, the in-form forward showing his strength on the ball but unable to find his target.

At the other end, Paul Turnbull shot from distance, Terell Thomas clearing under pressure, while busy Lindon Meikle’s run led to a free-kick, Turnbull’s 25-yard strike just wide, Poke covering anyway.

At the other end, Keiran Murtagh’s free-kick was played too deep, no one able to get there, the roving midfielder then back in Woking’s own half, blocking Shaun Beeley’s effort.

Murtagh was again on hand, helping keep the hosts at bay, while from a deep Bluebirds cross skipper Danny Livesey couldn’t get a header on target.

The pressure continued, Bennett away again, Saah getting a decisive touch, while Beeley and Alex-Ray Harvey combined but the latter couldn't find the right pass in the six-yard box.

Woking were living on their nerves, Bennett again firing wide, while Murtagh collected inside the centre-circle and put Sam-Yorke away, the big striker running on goal but his shot deflected behind.

Yet Murtagh's corner was poor, and soon after Caprice made space on the right but couldn’t reach Kane Ferdinand in the middle.
A more promising Woking build-up followed, involving Thomas, Nathan Ralph, Ferdinand and Murtagh, but again a poor final ball led to a counter-raid, the visitors defending again.

Murtagh and Joey Jones traded passes without a positive delivery, while at the other end Ferdinand was pulled up for a tackle on Turnbull, Jordan Williams’ free-kick causing flutters but cleared by Jones’ assured touch.

Both Ralph and Caprice were getting into the game, but that lack of quality distribution ensured Barrow’s midfield dominance, Ralph back to head away one corner while Ismail Yakubu did the same with a Bennett danger-ball, the same home striker then striking over.

While it seemed like the best option was to get back in the dressing room and regroup, Moussa Diarra next to go close from a corner, a swift break led to a Caprice centre from which Jamie Lucas seemed to mishit yet beat the keeper, last man Turnbull instinctively handling.

The match official gave a stoppage-time penalty and showed a red card, Lucas keeping his cool from the spot, tucking neatly away to the keeper's right.

Even a goal up and against 10 men, there was nervousness though, Caprice booked as Woking played out the half in their own box, Williams’ set-piece cleared by Jones just before the whistle.

Half time: Barrow 0 Woking 1

Barrow made two changes at the turn-around, and the Bluebirds again looked more dominant, Diarra and Bennett quickly causing concern.

Caprice looked handy on the right as Woking countered, thankfully not tempted to sit back on a slim lead. But soon Barrow were level, a mighty left-footed 30-yard Williams free-kick beating a six-man wall and finding the top corner on 51 minutes, Poke reaching the ball but unable to keep it out.

As the home crowd roared the Bluebirds on, a powerful strike from Harvey found Woking jittery again, as if they had one man less, not the hosts.

A further free-kick led to a Barrow corner, Poke pawing away then gathering properly as the ball was pinged back in, the Cards in need of a breather, the hosts’ tails up.

Good work followed by Murtagh, but Barrow still looked stronger in midfield, Beeley and Harvey with the next set-pieces.

Garry Hill made a change, Lucas making way for Gozie Ugwu, and from an initial Murtagh free-kick, Caprice’s centre was played in deep and Saah came closest, but the chance was lost.

As the hosts countered, Williams ran on goal then fired over, the hosts’ confidence levels still high.

However, Woking were soon back in front, Murtagh curling home from the left of the area in the 70th minute for his third goal this term, following touches by Ugwu and Jones from Sam-Yorke’s danger-ball.

Barrow weren’t deterred, Thomas clearing under pressure before the action swung again, Murtagh playing in Ugwu, the sub unable to get his shot in.

Thomas had two more key touches to keep out the hosts before Murtagh almost caught home keeper Jon Flatt out from distance, Woking back in the ascendancy.

When another move broke down Ralph volleyed away at the other end, the Cards soon winning a further free-kick, home sub Ross Hannah booked.

Yet this hasn’t been a season for straight-forward outcomes, and Barrow levelled again, Diarra heading down and Bennett finishing at close quarters on 83 minutes, the Cards again struggling with a set-piece.

In the ‘afters’ both Bennett and Sam-Yorke were booked, the outcome of this match still not clear, the action flipping between ends, four added minutes following.

Then from a Murtagh corner came that big talking point, Sam-Yorke getting a touch as the keeper flapped, then bundling home, only for the flag to go up.

Yet the celebrations were quickly curtailed, the recriminations starting, the Woking boss clearly not happy with the assistant ref’s decision.

The balance might even have tipped again, a rash challenge from Ferdinand leading to a yellow card and a Barrow free-kick thankfully punched away by Poke, the match soon over and Hill able to continue his discussion with the officials, his side left just outside the drop zone on goal difference.

Barrow: Jon Flatt, Shaun Beeley (Ross Hannah 73), Nick Anderton, Danny Livesey, (c), Moussa Diarra, Liam Hughes (Matt Platt 46), Alex-Ray Harvey, Paul Turnbull, Richie Bennett, Jordan Wiliams, Lindon Meikle (Jack Thomas 46).

Unused subs: Akil Wright, Inih Effiong.

Scorers: Williams, Bennett.

Red card: Turnbull 45

Yellow cards: Bennett, Hannah.

Woking: Michael Poke, Jake Caprice, Terell Thomas, Joey Jones, Brian Saah, Ismail Yakuku (c), Keiran Murtagh, Nathan Ralph, Delano Sam-Yorke, Kane Ferdinand, Jamie Lucas (Gozie Ugwu 63).

Unused subs: Brandon Hall, Charlie Carter, Fabio Saraiva, Connor Hall.

Scorers: Lucas 45, Murtagh 70.

Yellow cards: Caprice, Ferdinand, Sam-Yorke.

Referee: Andrew Miller.

Attendance 1,326 (26 away fans).

My MOTM: Keiran Murtagh. His distribution wasn’t always perfect, but while the visitors’ midfield were occasionally second-best, Keiran’s sprit was key all over the pitch, and he not only regained Woking’s lead but played a key part in the chalked-off late goal.
Barrow LINEUP
WOKING LINEUP
1Michael Poke
2Jake Caprice
11Nathan Ralph
3Terell Thomas
5Brian Saah
6Ismail Yakubu
4Joey Jones
8Keiran Murtagh
22Kane Ferdinand
17Delano Sam-Yorke
25Jamie Lucas ('63)
BENCH
18Brandon Hall
12Charlie Carter
14Fabio Saraiva
9Gozie Ugwu ('63)
23Connor Hall

Barrow 2 - 2 Woking (Garry Hill Interview)

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