Barrow 1 Stafford Rangers 1

Saturday 19th November 2005
Barrow 1 Stafford Rangers 1
Nationwide North
At: Holker Street
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 907
Weather: cold, dry, freezing pitch
Duration: first-half: 45:55; second-half: 50:15

Neil Grayson grabbed a late equaliser at a cold Holker Street to salvage a point for Stafford Rangers. The veteran striker prodded the ball home at close range from a knockdown by Wayne Daniel to cancel out Tom Cowan's opening goal scored for Barrow early in the second half.

With plenty of time on my hands before kick-off, I saw the opening exchanges of Furness Cavaliers’ home game on their ground next to Holker Street, which kicked-off early due a lack of floodlights.

At the main reason for heading up to Cumbria, Barrow got the game underway attacking the changing rooms end in the first half.

Rangers welcomed back defender Craig McAughtrie after a five-match absence through injury. Lee Downes was missing again but both Nathan Talbott and Peter Thomson passed fitness tests to take their place in the starting line-up.

The home side, without a manager following the sacking of Lee Turnball last Thursday, were hit by injury and suspension, which sidelined a long list of regulars and forced a teenager to make a rare start in goal.

On a Holker Street pitch that survived a precautionary 10 am inspection, Stafford should have taken the lead in the 14th minute. Grayson deep left-wing cross fell to Danny Edwards who couldn’t get in a shot.

Thomson, who had a goal disallowed for offside, put Nathan Smith clear soon after but Boro’s leading scorer sliced a shot well wide. Bizarrely, the referee awarded a corner even though the shot went nowhere near goalkeeper Ben Morsby.

Kevin Street saw a deflected shot deflected into the arms of Morsby as it appeared likely that Boro would eventually be rewarded with a goal. But Barrow battled into the game and mounted a strong challenge in the latter stages of the first half. Dean Williams, however, was rarely troubled and Paul Howarth flicked a near-post corner over the bar.

Barrow continued to dominate after the break and Gavin Knight fired straight at Williams.

The same player forced a great save out of the Rangers keeper, which led to Barrow taking the lead in the 56th minute. From the resulting corner, a shot from Chris Taylor was blocked on the line by Williams but Cowan drove home the loose ball.

Barrow could have extended their lead and put the outcome beyond doubt. Mike Rushton fired wide under pressure from Talbott and Darren Edmondson missed the target by inches with a header.

With time running out, Grayson struck to earn a point in the 88th minute, which could prove vital if the promotion race proved to be as tight as many predict. Levi Reid lifted a cross from the left towards the far post. Wayne Daniel headed the ball goalwards to Grayson to slot home at close range.

Barrow (white/blue/white): 1. Ben Morsby, 2. James Cotterill, 3. Steve Ridley, 4. Darren Edmondson (capt), 5. Kevin Dawson, 6. Tom Cowan, 7. Mike Rushton, 8. Paul Howarth, 9. Andy Hill, 10. Gavin Knight, 11. Chris Taylor. Subs: 12. Mike Kewley (not used), 14. Guy Heffernan (for Cowan, 65), 15. Jonathan Smith (for Rushton, 90+5), 16. Paul Raven (for Howarth, 90+1), 17. Phil Coombe.

Stafford Rangers (red/red/red): 1. Dean Williams, 2. Paul Groves, 3. Nathan Talbott, 4. Craig McAughtrie, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Neil Grayson, 7. Craig Lovatt, 8. Kevin Street, 9. Peter Thomson, 10. Nathan Smith, 11. Danny Edwards. Subs: 12. Alan Dodd (not used), 14. Robin Gibson (for Thomson, 61), 15. Dave Walker (not used), 16. Liam Murray (not used), 17. Levi Reid (for Edwards, 61).

Referee: Mr R. L. Metcalfe (Fulwood).
Assistants: W. King and R. Skeath.

1-0 Tom Cowan (55)
1-1 Neil Grayson (88)

Barrow: Tom Cowan (YC, 48), Steve Ridley (YC, 72), Darren Edmondson (YC, 82)
Stafford: Craig McAughtrie (YC, 76)