Topic: Barrow at home....
FT: 2-0 Att: 1654
Well that's a pretty good way to end your 9th birthday.
There were a stack of football firsts last season. First game, first away game, first autograph, first seeing fans getting ejected by the stewards.
The 2018-19 Vanarama Conference season started for us with some other firsts tonight. H's first game as a season ticket holder. And her first wearing a shirt with her name on the back.
It was great to see an excited spring in her step as we made the short walk from the car. 'Back at The Shay' she said as we saw the back of the East Stand.
She handed over the voucher from the season ticket (no barcodes here, this is non-league after all) and was straight off to claim seats M105 and M106 for another year. Hellos from a few faces we came to know through last year and, much to H's delight, a new CD of pre-match tunes.
It wasn't all sweetness and light however. The chips have changed! Thinner and drier according to the connoisseur. More for me in the end. She compensated with Haribos.
By my reckoning Town have retained 5 players from last year now Duckworth has signed on again. Pre-season was pretty disappointing but they don't really matter and after a good win away at newly-promoted Braintree on Saturday, there was a sense of expectation tonight before kickoff. A little bit noisier. And a good crowd for midweek.
Town started okay but Barrow looked livelier and used their possession well. They'd put 3 past Havant and Waterlooville at the weekend and obviously felt they could get something from the game.
There were early substitutions for both teams due to injuries. They still like a tackle down this end of the football ladder.
It was business as usual from Tomlinson. He's a gem of player. Never, ever stops running. Think of all the cliches about running yourself into the ground, good engine, workhorse etc and they apply to him. Duckworth is a similar player. Glad he's signed for this year.
With the number of new players coming in, it was inevitable there'd be passages where Town's play look disjointed, but they didn't concede and played their way into the game.
Edwards looks a player that will please and frustrate in equal measure up front. He scored on Saturday but was caught offside again and again and just couldn't find his touch.
There was a certain inevitability that it would be Town's number 9, Dayle Southwell, who opened the scoring on her 9th birthday though.
The smile from the goal was matched by the one at halftime when she got her birthday mention over the PA. Another first.
The second half saw Town improve and give a taste of what Fullarton can get out of this team if they stay injury-free and get to know each other. The first 20 minutes or so saw some good football. Barrow weren't done and had a spell of 15 minutes or so of good possession and pressure that saw them win corners and hit the bar with a long-range effort. But the goal didn't come. The 150 or so that made the trip kept the noise going but it just wasn't happening for them.
Cameron King (who'd replaced the injured Staunton early on) and Niall Maher can both play a bit but needed a bit more steel at times under pressure. Town were handing possession back too cheaply. But they held out. It's encouraging to think that players like McLeod were still on the bench. He'll make an impression at some point on the basis of what we saw in pre-season.
Kosylo came on for Preston with about 10 minutes to go and made an immediate impact. When he's good he's very good and he was immediately causing problems for Barrow. The pressure paid off when the captain Matty Brown fired home a great header from a Tomlinson corner. Brown's a throwback in some ways. A proper centre-half. Lump of a bloke. Got himself booked in the first half. A Barrow player went down injured but had rolled off the pitch. He theatrically rolled back on it to win some time but Brown had seen enough, marched over and dragged him back where he'd come from. Yellow card but you'll take that from your captain all day.
Town rode their luck at times but were definitely worth the win. Two wins out of two. They reckon 42 points or thereabouts keeps you in the National Conference. I'm expecting a lot more than that this year. They don't have the £5-10m some teams have thrown at promotion in recent years, but Macclesfield showed you don't necessarily need it last season. If they continue to play this way and keep winning, the crowds will stay over 1500 each week and that'll make a difference. Said it before, but the margins are narrow down here.
As we drove back home (with the heater on!) it struck me how lucky I am that H decided she wanted to watch football. However much affection I've found for them, they won't ever be my team, but that doesn't matter. In some ways it makes it better. We're having a laugh and, hopefully, she's developing a love of football and a connection with where she's from that'll last for life. All I know is I'm still loving every second....
Happy 9th Birthday kid......