Very tough trip in prospect for Cards
6:35pm, Wed 5th Apr 2017
Barrow AFC v Woking
Vanarama National League
3pm on Saturday 8 April 2017
Thanks to York Cityâ€™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 weekendâ€™s fixtures. The Cardsâ€™ narrow win against Sutton United last Saturday looks even more valuable in retrospect. Not many will fancy the Cardsâ€™ chances at Holker Street but even a point could be crucial as the relegation battle reaches its climax.
The Cards showed a lot of character in grabbing three points at Sutton Unitedâ€™s expense last Saturday. As Garry Hill and Steve Thompson said after the game, the team was â€˜on the ropesâ€™ 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.
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 6â€™4â€™ 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 Morecambeâ€™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 6â€™4â€� striker signed from Biggleswade Town, who has already netted over 20 goals this season. Akil Wrightâ€™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.
The Furness Building Society Stadium
Official website: www.barrowafc.com
The Cards Trust is not running a coach to this game. Please get in touch with the Club Shop or Alan Barnes if youâ€™re interested in travelling to Chester on Easter Monday (17 April).
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.
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 minutesâ€™ leeway) at Lancaster. (According to Northern Trainsâ€™ revised timetable, this service from Lancaster is due to run normally.) Returning, the 17.15 from Barrow â€“ 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.
Seated: Adults Â£17, Over 65s Â£12, Student Â£10, U17 Â£8, U11 Â£3
Standing: Adults Â£14, Over 65s Â£11, Student Â£8, U17 Â£5, U11 Â£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 80â€™), Richie Bennett (Ross Hannah 60â€™), Byron Harrison
Goals: Harrison (20)
Unused Subs: Andy Haworth, Alex-Ray Harvey, Euan Murray
The Cardsâ€™ next game is at home to Macclesfield Town at 3pm on Good Friday (14 April). Entry will be free for U16s and only Â£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 Cardsâ€™ 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!