Preview: Barrow vs Exeter City

City’s first away day of the season could barely have gone worse – soundly beaten, missed a penalty, had a player injured and another sent off. In addition, after the failure to find the net blighted the second half of last season, City have still failed to find the net after three matches of the current campaign. Matt Taylor is heading towards the bare bones especially down the left – depending on when Alex Hartridge is back from his spell out with Covid, Taylor has also now lost Jack Sparkes (injured) and Jonathan Grounds (suspended), meaning former Aston Villa youngster Callum Rowe is set for his full debut at Barrow on Tuesday night. Elsewhere loanee Padraig Amond came off the bench at Leyton Orient and will hope to get the starting nod, again assuming Sam Nombe is still under quarantine following his Covid diagnosis. With City’s coffers swelling again recently following the departure of Joel Randall to Peterborough, the supporters are becoming very restless about whether Taylor is able to open the club’s wallet to fund the extra quality needed to be considered serious challengers.

Ahead of their sophomore season back in the 92, Barrow signalled their intent by bringing in Mark Cooper as manager in the summer, along with a raft of new signings including goalkeeper Paul Farman, experienced ex-City trainee Mark Ellis in defence and striker Josh Gordon. The departure of star striker Scott Quigley to Stockport (following John Rooney the previous season), however, means the bookies are still unimpressed by the Cumbrians and have installed them amongst the favourites for the drop. A win in the EFL Cup over Scunthorpe followed by a 3-2 victory over newly promoted Hartlepool on Saturday has given Cooper’s side a confidence boost ahead of Tuesday night. Gordon and Offrande Zanzala both netted against Hartlepool to open their Barrow accounts.

With both games between the sides taking place in the final weeks of the season following a couple of postponements of the fixture at Holker Street, it was Barrow who took advantage of City’s late malaise to take four points. The corresponding fixture, when it finally took place in mid-April, saw Barrow put a huge dent in City’s playoff prospects with a 2-1 win, Brough and Quigley on the scoresheet before Pierce Sweeney’s late consolation. The final day of last season would have been academic in any case given results elsewhere, but City only managed a 1-1 draw (Jay for City, Beadling for Barrow) to ensure a failure to reach the playoffs even had results gone their way. That win for Barrow saw them take the lead in league head to heads with six wins to City’s five, but the smart money is on the draw with nine so far.

Match officials for the game will be:-

Referee: Andrew Kitchen
Assistant Referees: Helen Edwards and Paul Graham
Fourth Official : Aaron Jackson

Andrew Kitchen is newly promoted to the Football League and so will be the first time he’s taken charge of a City game.

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