Barrow got their Papa John’s Trophy campaign up and running with a spirited performance and an entertaining draw at Accrington Stanley on Tuesday night.
The Bluebirds were forced to come from behind twice as goals from Festus Arthur and Ollie Banks secured a 2-2 draw at The Wham Stadium, with the hosts taking a bonus point after winning the subsequent penalty shootout.
Whilst there was a high tempo to the early proceedings, there was little in the way of goalmouth action and nothing to hint at the drama that was to unfold.
The first real moment of danger was created by some quick thinking from Remeao Hutton, whose sharp throw-in set Josh Gordon away down the right, but his low cross was slid behind by a defender.
From the resultant corner, The Bluebirds came agonisingly close to opening the scoring when Mark Ellis got up highest at the far post to nod the ball back across goal where it was nodded onto the top of the cross bar and over by Jason Taylor.
However, just after the half hour mark the hosts struck first. A ball was fed in behind the Barrow defence and Colby Bishop scampered on to it before drilling a low shot on goal which was brilliantly parried by debutant keeper Scott Moloney only for Mitch Clark to steer in the rebound for 1-0.
The first half went from bad to worse for Mark Cooper moments later when a mounting injury list was added to by Kgosi Nthle who was forced to hobble off after treatment.
Taylor almost created an equaliser for Barrow when he showed great tenacity on the byline to feed the ball back into the feet of the lively George Williams and he cleverly stepped into space before shooting on goal only for his deflected effort to fly straight into the arms of keeper Toby Savin.
Moloney was then called into action once again at the other end as he darted from his line to block well from Tommy Leigh after he got into space on the left of the penalty area to shoot on goal.
It took Cooper’s men just three minutes of the second half to level things up as a corner from the left was flicked on at the front post by Patrick Brough and Festus Arthur ghosted in to head home his first goal for the Club from close range.
However, parity was to be short-lived. The home side were back in front on 50 minutes when a ball into the back post fell kindly for Bishop and he tucked a neat finish beyond Moloney to restore Stanley’s lead.
Hutton then led a rapid counterattack down the right after winning possession on the edge of his own box and driving towards the halfway line before whipping a ball forward for Josh Gordon. The forward did brilliantly to get to the ball ahead of keeper Savin and he teed it up for Williams whose low strike was superbly blocked on the line by a recovering defender.
With just less than 20 minutes left, Barrow hauled themselves level once again. The tireless effort of Gordon earned reward when he was caught late in the area as the ball popped around dangerously and the referee pointed to the spot. Substitute Ollie Banks made little fuss tucking the ball home from twelve yards for his second goal in as many games for The Bluebirds.
Both sides looked keen on snatching a winner in the closing stages and Barrow were thankful to some more good work from Moloney when Bishop’s flicked header flew on goal, but the keeper was well placed to gather.
The young debutant made an even better save moments later when Bishop got on the end of another pinpoint delivery from the right, sending a header low towards the bottom corner which Moloney did brilliantly to get down to and claw away.
The sides took a point each but, as per Papa John’s Trophy rules, the game went to penalties to decide the destination of a bonus point.
And after nine successful spot kicks, Josh Gordon was the first player to miss as his penalty crashed back off the bar and it was Stanley who took the extra point.
Full Time: Accrington Stanley 2 Barrow 2 (Accrington Stanley take bonus point 5-4 on penalties)
Accrington Stanley: Savin, Sherring, Bishop, Mumbongo, Procter, Leigh, Scully, Nolan, Clark, Morgan (Moonan 66), Amankwah (Nottingham 46).
Subs not used: Trafford, McConville, Perritt, Carson, Mansell.
Barrow: Moloney, Hutton, J Jones (Banks 59), Ellis, Arthur, Ntlhe (Brough 39), Taylor, Grayson (Zanzala 74), Williams, White, Gordon.
Subs not used: Farman, Lillis.
Referee: Christopher Sarginson
Attendance: 930 (105 Barrow)