REPORT | Barrow 1-2 Chester
A battling performance from the Blues saw them cause concern for Barrow, who battled to stay in the National League, in the end relying on results elsewhere to stay up.
Jordan Archer opened the scoring for Chester before Jordan White equalised, with the winner coming from academy product Tom Crawford.
Calum McIntyre’s Blues made two changes from the side that were defeated 3-1 against Maidstone last time out as Jordan Archer and Myles Anderson replaced Cain Noble and Nathan Brown.
As expected the hosts started the game brightly, forcing a series of early corners, the third of which saw Lewis Walters fire an effort just wide of Andy Firth’s goal.
Chester survived that early onslaught and began to grow into the game, with Crawford showing good footwork before a comfortable effort for Steve Arnold.
Shortly after, Craig Mahon’s good work saw him cut inside and found Jordan Gough but the Blues full back couldn’t work Arnold in the Barrow goal.
The hosts were keen to try and secure safety of their own accord, rather than relying on results elsewhere going in their favour and it showed as Dan Jones forced a good save from Andy Firth, diving away to his right. From the resulting corner Grant Holt followed up with a tame header that allowed Firth tomake a routine saved.
It was the Blues who opened the scoring, against the run of play, as Andy Firth’s long clearance found Jordan Archer, who finished well, wrong footing Steve Arnold in the Barrow goal.
Following the goal, the chances were at a premium until stoppage time in the first half, when Dan Jones’ throw was flicked on by Jordan White and James Jones had to be alert at the back post, to keep the Blues ahead at the break.
Chester almost made the perfect start to the second half as Mahon’s corner was met with a powerful header from Ryan Astles, only to be denied by Blues striker Akintunde on the line as the ball hit him and fell to Arnold!
Five minutes later and it was the Blues who were let off, as Luke James caught out Ryan Astles but the Barrow man’s cutback was behind Lewis Walters and the Chester defence was able to recover and clear it away.
It wasn’t long before Barrow were able to get the equaliser though, and it came as Matty Thomson failed to clear a ball forward, Jordan White controlled the ball well before firing past Andy Firth from the edge of the area.
Barrow continued to push, looking for a winning goal to guarantee their safety, and had chances from Diagne, who fired over the crossbar, and Walters, who headed wide of the target.
With twenty minutes to play Barrow had two good chances to take the lead. The first saw Calum MacDonald’s free kick curl just wide, with a portion of the Bluebirds fans thinking it had gone in. Shortly after, Lewis Walters’ vision almost caught Andy Firth out from 30 yards as his lob was denied well by the outstretched arm of the Blues’ stopper.
It was the Blues who regained the lead though with just under fifteen minutes to play as substitute Nathan Brown’s cross was headed down by Akintunde, the ball broke to Tom Crawford, who fired low, beyond the oustretched leg of Steve Arnold.
As Barrow looked for the equaliser once more it was the Blues who could have added to their lead, a super challenge from Moussa Diarra stopped him as the last man. Moments later and Chester had a three on two break, Akintunde played in Halls but his effort was too close to Arnold and the Barrow ‘keeper made a comfortable save.
As cheers rang around Holker Street, signifying a late winner for Dover against Woking, confirming Barrow’s safety, the hosts almost got an equaliser, Moussa Diarra headed a ball down and Luke James headed wide of the target, confirming the victory for the Blues; ending Calum McIntyre’s temporary reign with a deserved victory.
Chester: Firth, Thomson, Jones, Astles (c), Anderson, Gough, Mahon (Brown 73), Crawford, Halls, Archer (White 89), Akintunde
Subs: Noble, Hellawell, Downes
Barrow: Arnold, MacDonald (Waterston 80), Diagne, Diarra, Hall (c), Walters, Jones (Fitzpatrick 85), Gomis, White, Holt (Panayiotou 80), James
Subs: Dixon, Cook
Goal Scorers: Chester: Archer (20), Crawford (77). Barrow: White (54).
Yellow Cards: Chester: Halls.
Attendance: 1,788 (98 Chester fans).
Match Report by Chris Graham.