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A look at the opposition: Barrow

29 September 2023

Club News

A look at the opposition: Barrow

29 September 2023

Rovers fans have a newly-refurbished away end to look forward to this Saturday as Grant McCann’s side make the long journey to Barrow in Sky Bet League Two.

The Bluebirds are enjoying their fourth season back in the EFL and have had a fairly mixed start to this campaign with only one win in their last seven competitive matches seeing them sit 13th in the fourth tier of English football. 

Like last weekend’s opponents Gillingham, games involving Barrow have been light on goals this season with Pete Wild’s side having scored eight and conceded seven from their eight games so far. 

LAST TIME OUT 

Mansfield Town 1 Barrow AFC 0 

Sky Bet League Two, Saturday, September 23, 2023 

Line-up: Farman, Tiensia (RED 83), Canavan, Ray, Feely, Campbell (Telford 82), Gotts (White 82), Spence (Foley 73), Worrall (Chester 56), Acquah (Garner 55), Proctor. 

THE MANAGER 

With only amateur playing experience under his belt, Pete Wild turned his hand to coaching and started with England’s amputees side. Between 2018 and 2019 Wild had three spells at the helm of Oldham Athletic but his first mainstay came at Halifax Town. 

Over a three-year stay at The Shay, the 39-year-old enjoyed a 47 per cent win ratio in the National League and in the summer of 2022, Barrow came knocking. 

Wild is now into his second season with the club and guided the Bluebirds to a ninth placed finish last term. 

THE KEY MEN 

Keeper: Paul Farman 

Despite being at the club since 2021, goalkeeper Farman only received his place in Wild’s squad this season in late August with Josh Lillis preferred until then.  

The Newcastle academy graduate featured on the non-league circuit in the early part of his career and made over 200 appearances for Lincoln City. He went on to play for Stevenage and Carlisle before joining Barrow where he is set to hit the century mark for appearances in the coming weeks. 

Defender: Niall Canavan 

The 32-year-old boasts a wealth of experience across the EFL and started his professional career with Scunthorpe United to average a goal every tengames for the Iron from centre-half. 

A former Republic of Ireland U21 international, Canavan has continued to prove a threat at both ends of the pitch throughout his career and is now into his second season with the Bluebirds. He already has a goal to his name this term. 

In the middle: Robbie Gotts 

A category two national champion with Leeds United, Robbie Gotts was highly thought of amongst Carlos Corberan’s U23s side at the Whites but never reached expectations in West Yorkshire. 

A goalless first loan spell at Lincoln City was followed up by a successful stint at Salford City and saw Barrow swoop in for his signature on a permanent deal in 2021. He has played 78 times in the blue and white and continues to be a leading figure in the Cumbrian’s midfield. 

Up top: Dom Telford 

The 26-year-old knows exactly what it takes to be successful at this level, having won promotion with Bury in 2019 and picked up the league’s golden boot with Newport County in 2022. 

He also made the division’s team of the year with the Exiles before making the switch to Crawley Town but it didn’t quite work out with the Red Devils. Telford arrived in Barrow during the latest transfer window and is now looking to reignite past form. 

HEAD-TO-HEAD 

Rovers first met Barrow in the 1923/24 Division Three North campaign and played out a 2-2 draw at Belle Vue in the September of that season before also drawing the reverse fixture 0-0 in Cumbria a week later. In total, the two sides have crossed paths 62 times and Rovers have just edged the rivalry with 23 wins in comparison to Barrow’s 19. 

There have been 20 draws between the sides and three of those came in the 1931/32 FA Cup campaign when Rovers were forced to play out the same tie on four separate occasions before eventually advancing as 1-0 winners at Belle Vue. 

The last time the sides went head-to-head was on Valentine’s Day of this year when James Maxwell’s first-half strike was enough to take all three points from a first home game against the Bluebirds in 50 years. 

TURNED OUT FOR BOTH 

Both Rovers and Barrow have reaped the rewards of Sam Hird’s services despite having the centre half at opposite ends of his career. Sean O’Driscoll first brought a then-young Hird to South Yorkshire on loan from Leeds United in 2007 before making the move permanent that summer. The local lad made over 150 appearances for Rovers over the next five years and helped the club to EFL Trophy and League One play-off glory in 2007 and 2008 respectively. 

Next came a 237-game spell at Chesterfield before a final career move to Barrow came in 2019 where he wore the blue and white on 61 occasions and helped deliver the club’s return to the EFL. 

Since his retirement, Hird turned his hand to coaching and is currently first team coach at Bolton Wanderers in Sky Bet League One. 

Contributor: Jefferson Hall-Nolan

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