Steve Harris – @steveharris84
Match details: Barrow AFC V Torquay United – National League
Venue: Holker Street
Date: Saturday 1st February 2020
Previous NL form (last six):
Barrow AFC: D – W – W – W – D – D
Torquay United: L – W – L – D – W – D
Last time the two teams met: National League, Torquay United 4-2 Barrow AFC – 26th October 19
Torquay United made it five wins from six matches in all competitions as they ended ten man Barrow’s seven match winning league run with a display that Gulls manager Gary Johnson hailed as ‘Football League quality.’
A brace apiece from Jamie Reid and Armani Little inspired the Gulls to victory over the Bluebirds, who were reduced to ten man late in the first half when John Rooney was dismissed, which moves them into the play-off zone.
The Gulls started brightly at a wet and windy Plainmoor as Liam Davis and Frank Vincent both went close in the opening five minutes.
However, United found themselves behind on ten minutes as goalkeeper Lucas Covolan rushed off his line in an attempt to deny Barrow striker Dior Angus, but Angus knocked the ball past the Brazilian before rounding him and slotting into an unguarded net.
The Gulls levelled matters on 31 minutes when Jamie Reid played a one-two with Ben Whitfield before racing through to score his 12th goal of the campaign.
Two minutes before half-time, United were awarded a penalty by referee Richard Hulme after John Rooney was adjudged to have handled the ball and promptly awarded a straight red card. Reid then stepped up to convert the spot-kick to complete his brace.
Early in the second half, the Gulls made their numerical advantage count as Armani Little turned home a cross from Ben Wynter to further extend their lead on 51 minutes.
Barrow pulled one back five minutes later through substitute Connor Brown – after the United defence failed to clear a cross from Bradley Barry – only three minutes after he came off the bench.
In the 75th minute, the Gulls restored their two-goal cushion as substitute Kalvin Kalala picked out Reid, whose cross found Little who smashed home his second of the afternoon, which proved to be decisive. United also finished the game with ten men as Little was carried off with a hamstring injury late on.
Manager: Ian Evatt
Barrow manager Ian Evatt is in his second season in charge of the Bluebirds and they currently look well placed to secure a return to the Football League after an absence of 48 years.
As a player Evatt started his career at Derby County and made his name as a no-nonsense centre-half with Chesterfield, who he would enjoy two spells with, Queens Park Rangers and Blackpool. It was with the latter that he would win promotion to the Premier League under Ian Holloway in the 2009-10 season. Evatt went on to be an ever present for the Tangerines in the 2010-11 campaign, which saw them return to the Championship after just one season. He was also part of the Blackpool side that won promotion from League One in the 2006-07 campaign when they beat Yeovil Town in the play-off final.
In addition to the promotions that he won whilst with the Tangerines, Evatt was a League Two title winner with Chesterfield in the 2013-14 season and also had a brief spell as caretaker manager of the Spireites prior to his appointment at Holker Street.
One to watch: Scott Quigley
After initially making his name in the League of Wales with New Saints, Scott Quigley has established himself as one of the leading marksmen in the National League this season. He is currently the division joint-top scorer with United’s Jamie Reid and Yeovil’s Rhys Murphy.
He earned himself a move to Blackpool, who paid £35,000 for his services, in 2017, but he failed to make the grade at Bloomfield Road and was loaned out to Wrexham, Port Vale and FC Halifax Town before signing for the Bluebirds on a permanent basis in the summer of 2019.
Classic Encounter: National League, Torquay United 2-2 Barrow AFC – 23rd April 16
After retaining their National League with an away win over Bromley in their previous fixture, Torquay United played out an entertaining draw with Barrow – in a game that saw Kevin Nicholson go head-to-head with his predecessor Paul Cox.
The Bluebirds started the stronger of the two sides, as Andy Haworth had a shot from distance parried away by Torquay keeper Brendan Moore on six minutes.
Howarth then threatened again for Barrow in the 13th minute with a free-kick which Moore tipped behind for a corner.
On 26 minutes, Barrow keeper Joel Dixon was caught in no-lands man after he rushed off his line to make a clearance, which he fired straight into the path of Torquay striker Shaun Harrad. However, the Sunderland loanee breathed a huge sigh of relief as the former Burton frontman narrowly missed the target as his shot agonisingly hit the post from 35-yards.
In the 33rd minute, Jordan Williams made a bursting run down the left wing before picking out Ben Tomlinson with a low cross, but his shot was blocked.
A minute later, the Bluebirds were in front when Moore’s clearance hit Exodus Geohaghon and landed in the path of Tomlinson, who beat the American with a stunning left footed strike from distance.
Torquay came close to equalising on 39 minutes when Harrad turned a free-kick from Dan Butler wide.
On the stroke of half-time, Aman Verma forced a smart save from Dixon with a shot on the turn, as the Gulls’ search for a leveller continued.
Six minutes into the second half, Torquay threatened to level matters again as Ben Gerring missed the target with a glancing header following a free-kick from Luke Young.
Just after the hour mark, the Gulls pulled themselves level through a long range strike from stand-in captain Richards, who found the back of the net from the edge of the box.
Torquay agonisingly missed out on edging ahead on 69 minutes when Gerring connected with a corner from Butler but the woodwork came to rescue of the Bluebirds.
The Gulls eventually took the lead on 81 minutes when substitute Sam Chaney released Harrad down the left hand side and his cross found Blissett who slotted home to score his seventh of the season.
Three minutes from time, Barrow almost snatched a late leveller when Cook headed a Jordan Williams corner against the bar.
However, Cook was not to be denied a second time as – in the second minute of injury time – he slotted home an equaliser from close range to claim a point for the Bluebirds.
Sam Hird – Matthew Platt – Patrick Brough
Bradley Barry – Josh Kay – Jason Taylor – John Rooney
Scot Quigley – Dior Angus
Joe Lewis – Robbie Cundy – Gary Warren – Jackson Longridge
Kalvin Kalala – Connor Evans – Asa Hall – Ben Whitfield