Saturday 16th January 2010

Barrow Town 2 Heanor Town 3
East Midlands Counties League
At: Riverside Park
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £4 including 24 page programme
Attendance: 120
Weather: cold, dry
Duration: first-half: 47:11; second-half: 48:00

Barrow Town were unlucky to go down by the odd goal in five against a Heanor side which moved to second position with the win. With 20 minutes left, it looked like the home side would gain at least a point with a 2-1 lead until Heanor equalised direct from a corner. The visitors went on to score the winner in front of Riverside Park’s biggest league crowd of the season.

English non-league football was again hit by the weather and in many parts of the country entire league programmes were wiped out. I was resigned to another League game, until the news about my chosen destination was of a noon inspection. No use to me with a three-hour drive. The match was postponed!

Last night I spotted several games not marked with a ‘P’ on the East Midlands Counties League mitoo site and to my delight this morning the updated comment for Barrow Town read ‘10.35am MATCH ON - KO 3pm”.

Barrow Town are based at Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire, a few miles south-east of Loughborough. The ground proved easy to find immediately north of the A6 Barrow/Quorn bypass and down a track leading from Quorn Hall Lodge. Travelling east on the A6, there was an exit signed ‘Barrow-on-Soar Quorn’ and a brown sign for ‘Marinas’. At the roundabout, it was right towards Barrow and the ground drive was signed 200 yards on the right. I can’t think of any other ground off the top of my head that has a cattle grid at the entrance to the car park!

The ‘Riverside Review’ was available at the paybox and included a potted history of football in the village. Present-day Barrow Town were founded at the beginning of the last century as Barrow Old Boys and moved to Riverside Park sometime around 1970. ‘Old Boys’ changed to ‘Town’ in1981. The club enjoyed continuous membership of the Leicestershire Senior League from the end of the War until the formation of the East Midlands Counties League at the beginning of last season. They captured the Senior League Division 1 title in 1992/93 and finished Premier Division runners-up on three occasions since.

The main pitch ran widthways through the entrance off the car park. A decent clubhouse and changing room block was right of the entrance with a ‘Burger Bar’ hatch facing the pitch. Over on the far side, as well as the dugouts, were three stands. The middle one, containing 50 red seats and dedicated to the memory of Rob Burton (1966–2005), was positioned on half-way next to an equally modern area of covered terrace. The third stand, the oldest of the three, provided further covered shelter. Hard standing ran all round the pitch perimeter which was enclosed by a red rail supported by white posts. Beyond the far hedge was a large playing field including a further two full-sized pitches.

Barrow Town (14th position with 20 points from 19 games) had an advantage over their visitors by playing two games since the cold snap arrived. Heanor (3rd position with 39 points from 19 games), on the other hand, hadn’t played for five weeks since December 12th.

Teams turned round after the toss and Heanor got the game underway attacking the bypass end in the first half.

Perhaps looking to take advantage of any rustiness in the Heanor defence, Barrow created three decent chances. Sam Ogzivovic beat away a well-struck effort from Matt Lichfield in the second minute.

However, it was Heanor who took an 11th minute lead. Put clear down the left, Dan Williams rode the challenge of the advancing Barrow keeper Tommy Allen and slotted home into an unguarded net.

Barrow equalised in the 20th minute. Stuart Wilson latched onto a long clearance from Allen, got clear of the Heanor defence and fired past the advancing Ogrizovic into the far bottom-right corner.

The visitors quickly responded and Allen did well to palm Danny Bainbridge’s rising shot over the bar.

But poor defending by Heanor in the 24th minute allowed Barrow to take the lead. They failed to deal with Adam Beazeley’s corner, resulting from Ogrizovic’s diving save, and Lee Dawson hooked the ball home at close range.

Play was certainly end to end and from Allen’s poor punch of Gary Webster’s corner both Williams and Graham Wells saw shot blocked.

Fans either headed for the bar or burger bar queue at half-time. I joined the latter and spotted soup and a roll on the menu. “What flavour is the soup?” I enquired and when a reply of “vegetable” came back, it was soup and roll at £1 for me. Delicious! Recommended!

Barrow could have extended their lead on the hour. Ade Adelukan dribbled into the area and fed Dawson who saw his shot blocked by the legs of Ogrizovic.

Heanor almost equalised when Williams’ header was cleared off the line by substitute Dave Hollis. The visitors did get back on level terms in the 71st minute. Wells swung in a right-wing corner which flew straight into the far side of the net via the fingertips of the leaping Allen.

“About 12,” said the assistant near me after Ogrizovic enquired how long remained, and a minute later Heanor scored what proved to be the winner. In a populated area, Williams flicked on a right-wing cross for Jaylee Hodgson to hook home at close range.

“Everybody pick up a man,” was the instruction as Barrow threw men forward in a bid to snatch a draw, and they almost did. Dawson drove the ball across the face of goal to the far post where unchallenged Lichfield couldn’t apply the finishing touch. “Boy’s that’s a let off,” as Barrow were so close to scoring.

Before heading home, I popped into the bar and spotted a list of club merchandise, including enamel badges priced £2-50.

There was time to chat with a club official from Heanor, pleased with the win, who promised me a warm welcome at their ground. It must be 22+ years since I visited The Town Ground, so a return trip one Tuesday night in the future will be on the agenda.

I left with pleasant memories of the day and wouldn’t complain at all about a return trip to Barrow Town either.

Barrow Town (red and white stripes / black / black): 1. Tommy Allen, 2. Aaron Dignum, 3. Jason Munn, 4. Phil Garner, 5. Matt Lichfield, 6. Adam Beazeley, 7. Marrekomi Chilipula, 8. Neil Stringfellow (capt), 9. Lee Dawson, 10. Stuart Wilson, 11. Ade Adelukan. Subs: 12. Scott Maclennan (for Chilipula, ht), 14. Dave Hollis (for Dignum, 42), 15gk. Adam Hall (not sued), 16. Stephen Hugo (for Beazeley, 78), 17. Rich Burford (not used).

Heanor Town (white with black sleeves / white / white): 1. Sam Ogrizovic, 2. Dean Randall, 3. Phil Austin, 4. Danny Bainbridge, 5. Michael Norbury, 6. Adam Kay, 7. Gary Webster (capt), 8. Ashley Grayson, 9. Dan Williams, 10. Lee Hodgson, 11. Graham Wells. Subs: 12. Callum Mason (not used), 14. Aled Biggs (for Wells, 90+1), 15. George Walker (for Williams, 82), 16. Gerard Moran (not used), 17. Craig Hopkins (not used).

Referee: Adrian Seward (Sutton-in-Ashfield).
Assistants: R Freakley and A Howson.

0-1 Dan Williams (11)
1-1 Stuart Wilson (20)
2-1 Lee Dawson (24)
2-2 Graham Wells (71)
2-3 Lee Hodgson (80)

Barrow: none
Heanor: none