United made it two home league wins out of two on Saturday as they took the lead through a dominant period of the game, backing that up when they went down to ten men in the second half with a resolute and determined display.
Add to that the fact that United now have the bragging rights from the first Cumbrian derby between the sides for 56 years, and it was a good day at a rather wet office for the Blues.
Speaking after the game, manager Chris Beech said: “It’s been a long time, hasn’t it, 56 years, so there’s a lot of pride in that performance for the players.
“We were playing a Barrow side who, I suppose, were on the crest of success because of what they did last season. You could see that from how they’re quietly confident in the way they’re trying to play football.
“Our tactics were bang on, we knew what we needed to do and we knew how to do it. We got our noses in front and we missed several chances in the first half to be a good three or four goals up.
“We also had to play against the conditions and, without going into it too much, play the referee, and then play the opposition with 10 men.”
Having smothered the potential threats to be posed by David Dunn’s men, he commented: “What was quite good for us was that they took time on the ball when they could have moved it quicker, and their bench were getting frustrated with that.
“David has played Premier League football, so it will frustrate him. What you need to do against ten men is keep moving the ball, but they took more touches which enabled us to get back in shape a little bit quicker without actually extending ourselves too much.
“They did have a couple of ricochets, but they also went our way, and sometimes that happens when you work hard. It can make the moments of luck go your way.”
Accompanying the six Brunton park points are two clean sheets, but the manager insisted that he still wants more.
“We’ve conceded one goal in three games, but I do want us to score more goals,” he told us. “JJ Kayode has missed two of the easiest chances he’s had for a long time with his head, but he showed great skill to put the ball through the centre half’s legs.
“He decided to take that early on the outside of the right foot when he probably had more time. He could have taken it wide and passed it into the side of the net.
“But we can’t complain at the quality of the goal. Gav Skelton asked me why I was swapping Gime Toure from right to left because he had Brown the full back on toast.
“I know Brown from the past and he’s a good player, he’s very committed, but he’s also a bit of a wind up merchant. I could see him pulling at Gime’s leg and he was constantly trying to wind him up, because Gime had the upper hand on him.
“He was trying to upset him and get him off track by using some of those dark arts, so I’m glad I did that, because it helped Gime to stay on the pitch with discipline. He’s been a big player for us, and so have the other lads who have come in for us.
“Hopefully the pace and power that wasn’t available today, the likes of Patrick and Dickenson, will be back and we’ll keep it all together for longer, because it could be really exciting for us.”
“Like I say, we created some good chances and that was great to see,” he continued. “We knew that Barrow would look to play expansive football and we knew what we wanted to do when we got it back.
“It got harder when we went down to ten men because it felt like we didn’t get any support from the ref. Mind you, there was one key decision where it could have gone either way with Gav Reilly on the edge of the box. He could have given them a pen, but he gave us a free kick for diving.
“Their bench was adamant it was a penalty, but in terms of levelling out what’s gone on in a game, our players were getting booked for diving and none of our players were doing that. They weren’t screaming for fouls, and we were getting punished for that. I don’t think it did level out because it felt like it went against us in terms of what we could have got from the ref.”
With an early view of the Hayden red card, he said: “I think the referee has reacted to the player’s reactions.
“I’ve looked at it, because I can, but I can’t show the ref. I’ve asked the ref to look at it. I don’t know if you play with your kids at home, but even if they fall on you it’s a natural reaction to put your legs out to stop somebody from landing on your crown jewels.
“Aaron has gone for the header and ended up underneath somebody who is going to fall on him, and he’s tried to protect himself. Violent conduct is to push two feet out and say ‘have some of that’ but he 100% isn’t doing that, you can see from the footage.
“Whether they look at it like that, we’ll see. I’d like to appeal it because I feel hard done by. It happened and what we needed then was to show some character.
“It’s bizarre really because we ended up with 12 minutes added time, which they added an extra minute to anyway. It’s frustrating, but I’ll go home and calm down a little bit.
“I’m really proud of the players. I’m so thankful that we can honour the chairman who has obviously lived in Cumbria for his whole life, I feel like we’ve done it for him as well as the supporters. This could have been a great occasion for the fans to enjoy, and there’s no doubt that if they were in the stadium today they would have helped us.
“Often manager’s talk about the twelfth man after the game, especially when you go down to ten on the pitch, but we didn’t have that help today. Great credit to the lads for sticking in there, and I was really pleased with the subs who came on to support the efforts.”
And the big positive of the day was the quality of the match-winning goal, with guile in the build-up from Toure and style in the finish from Mellish.
“I thought the midfield was excellent,” he said. “Jon won his headers and tackles that I keep telling people he does, and he scored a great header.
“It’s a proper Bryan Robson header and I hope he’s very proud of himself tonight. I heard he was getting some stick last week which I wasn’t too pleased about, but he deserves a ‘well done’ today.
“I moved him into midfield because I don’t like my centre halves trying to take everybody on, and he can’t help himself, he just dribbles. I’ll get the distances later, and I’ve got no doubt that Jon Mellish will have ran further than anybody else today, as he does every single day. He can’t help himself, he just runs and runs.
“It’s a big moment for him, getting his first goal. He was powerful with how he got into the box. He’ll be feeling much better now because he got ridiculed last Saturday for a mistake he made, which is unfortunate.
“We’re a family, we have to support each other, you don’t chuck your kids out of the house when they haven’t behaved how you want them to behave, you have to try and make them better. Because they’re yours. That’s what I’ll do.”
“As for Gime, I’ve recruited a lot of power, pace, physicality and technique in our front line, and it’s unfortunate Brennan, Omari, etc, aren’t available,” he added. “Because it would be really exciting if they were.
“I’m really pleased by who’s playing instead of them, because they’re supporting what we’re trying to do as a team. But Gime gives you that extra edge in those moments. So do the other players, but unfortunately they’re not available.
“Dean Furman came off last week with a knock. I wanted to leave him on but I could tell he wasn’t right. He didn’t quite make it for today, but we’ll see how he goes this week.”
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