Our review of last season reaches its conclusion as we run our eye over the tense closing weeks of the campaign as The Bluebirds closed in on EFL safety.
Barrow began April with a six-point advantage over the bottom two but fully aware that the situation could change quickly if they didn’t begin picking up results.
Things looked promising when Josh Kay scored a great goal to put The Bluebirds 1-0 up against Port Vale in Phil Brown’s first home game in charge, but the visitors came back powerfully in the second half and ended up snatching a winner a minute from time.
However, it had been an encouraging performance so there was genuine shock for Brown when the players failed to recreate it on the road at Crawley Town seven days later, succumbing to a 1-0 defeat which resulted in a dressing room inquest after the game.
Whatever was said during that heated exchanged certainly made an impact. The following week on Good Friday, Barrow were hosting league-leaders, Forest Green Rovers at The Dunes Hotel Stadium and few outside observers were giving them much chance of a result. On the day though, The Bluebirds were simply irresistible and goals from Joe Grayson, John Rooney, Matt Platt and Aaron Amadi-Holloway did the damage in a remarkable 4-0 triumph over their shellshocked visitors.
Easter Monday provided a trip to play-off chasing Salford City but Barrow showed their renewed confidence to produce a performance which came agonisingly close to earning three points and EFL safety. The Ammies took the lead midway through the first half but Barrow levelled through Josh Gordon just after the hour before Amadi-Holloway’s clinical finish put them in front on 83 minutes. However, a controversial award of a goal with a minute remaining ensured City took a share of the points and Bluebirds fans had to wait to celebrate League Two security.
A return to home soil saw Sutton United the opposition that weekend and it was to prove a dramatic afternoon. Brown’s men had to battle hard against the promotion contenders but that man John Rooney provided the crucial moment when he fired home from close range midway through the second half to win the three points. A delayed finish in Oldham’s game against Salford meant for a nervous wait but confirmation soon arrived that The Latics had been beaten and relegated – ensuring EFL football for a third season in succession at The Dunes Hotel Stadium.
A daunting week of travelling followed for Brown and his squad, first visiting Exeter City for a rearranged midweek encounter which went 2-1 in the home side’s favour before heading to Swindon Town at the weekend where The Robins snatched a late victory by the same margin.
The final game of the campaign saw Northampton Town arrive in Barrow on the very cusp of promotion to League One. A victory for The Cobblers would set off celebrations as long as Bristol Rovers (level on points with Town) didn’t go goal crazy against Scunthorpe United…
What unfolded was simply incredible. Northampton came out of the traps flying and were 3-0 up within 21 destructive minutes at The Dunes Hotel Stadium. The visiting fans were already celebrating but Josh Kay gave them something to think about when he pulled a goal back on the stroke of half time. In the second half, tensions rose as news filtered through that Bristol Rovers were indeed putting a young Scunthorpe side to the slaughter and Northampton supporters’ worst fears were realised as they ran out 7-0 winners to overturn the goal difference and steal the final automatic promotion spot.
A Player of the Year event was sold out in The Cross Bar following the game at which Robbie Gotts swept the board, winning both Fans’ and Players’ Player of the Year awards, while Ollie Banks won Goal of the Season for his amazing free kick in the FA Cup tie at Barnsley.
Moment of the Month
Whilst thrashing League Two’s eventual champions 4-0 was astonishing – the most memorable moment has to be when John Rooney lashed home the goal which secured EFL safety.
The midfielder scored some crucial goals after returning to the Club during the January transfer window but that strike against Sutton United proved to be the one that ensured The Bluebirds remained in League Two for 2022/23. And it was celebrated in style by players and fans alike.