Phil Yelland does the research to see how Forest Green Rovers have fared on previous trips to Barrow ahead of our Good Friday encounter.
Good Friday will see the 10th meeting of the two teams here at The Dunes Hotel Stadium, with Rovers seemingly all set to win promotion to the third tier of the Football League for the first time in their history.
The first meeting came when Rovers were in their first season in the top flight of non-league football and whilst we were back at that level and struggling with financial issues at the door. On that December afternoon in 1998 we won 2-1 thanks to goals from Carl Macauley and Welshman Marc Coates.
It was fully 10 seasons before we met again here, and we repeated the feat of winning - this time 3-1 with goals from former Rovers striker David Brown (who netted from the spot) Matt Henney and Jason Walker.
Four out of the next five Rovers visits to Holker Street ended in draws. The exception was in the early part of the 2010/11 season when we won 3-0 thanks to a goal by Jason Walker and two from winger Simon Wiles, whose career was ended by a knee injury. Wiles is still very much involved in the game as Assistant Manager at Fleetwood Town, having had a spell as caretaker manager last season.
The most recent draw, back in late February 2016, saw us mount a comeback to take a point having trailed in the game. Our goals were scored by Jordan Williams and Danny Livesey.
Our last meeting before Rovers gained a place in the Football League came in late January 2017. In midweek we had played superbly in front of the BT Sport cameras to defeat eventual champions Lincoln City 3-0 on home soil, but we had lost the services of striker Byron Harrison to a serious ankle injury. The game was a five-goal thriller with a dramatic end.
Liam Noble, who has since been at Hartlepool United and is now at Morpeth Town, gave Rovers the lead. Richie Bennett, now at Sutton United, levelled things up before half time. Christian Doidge, who is now carving himself a good career with Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership, put Rovers back in front just past the hour mark. With three minutes remaining Barrow were awarded a penalty. Ross Hannah took it and, whilst his effort was saved, he netted the rebound. There was a final twist with the game deep in injury time when the Barrow defence switched off and Emanuel Monthe, now at Walsall, nipped in to net the winner and give Rovers a first victory here.
Last season, we resumed rivalries here in November 2020 when our previous manager Mark Cooper was still in charge of Rovers. We had fallen behind early in the second half to an Elliott Whitehouse goal before a strike from Rovers old boy Luke James and a Dior Angus penalty looked to have won us three points. However, Nicky Cadden scored direct from a free kick deep into injury time to secure a point for Rovers.
Let’s hope we can get win number four at home to Rovers and make it a very Good Friday.