It was a typical rough and tumble derby-day encounter at Holker Street on Saturday afternoon as Barrow and the Blues slugged it out in a game that could have gone either way.
We caught up with manager Chris Beech to get his thoughts immediately after the full-time whistle had blown.
“We knew that it was going to be a tough game,” he said. “They’re fighting for their lives, they’ve been getting important results, and they weren’t about to give us something for nothing.
“It was a real battle in the end. I’m pleased we managed to fight back from being a goal down to getting it level.
“Their pitch is lively – it’s in good condition, and well done the ground staff for that – but it is lively. The ball never settles, it’s smaller than our pitch, and it’s very tight.
“They for their midfield players to get the second balls, I think that’s the biggest difference since Rob Kelly’s took over and got results for it. For us to be in front, it was a great goal and we started the game well.
“It was from a good, clean corner, and we told Jack to move and split out a little bit, because it gives us more space to attack. He did that and he got his reward.”
“We were in a commanding position from there,” he continued. “I don’t know, maybe it was the sun, but we played the extra pass at the back when we don’t need to, and it causes our own issue from no issue.
“We’ve made a problem for ourselves, and it gives them a lift. And you find yourselves in the opposite position of being on the back foot after starting stronger than your opponent.
“From that point of view it was disappointing, but from an attitude and team spirit point of view - to try and get something out of nothing - that was excellent.”
Speaking more about the moments which led to the goals for the Bluebirds, he told us: “Barrow do take advantage of that, but I suppose it’s not like we scored own goals and things.
“But they did take advantage of stuff that I don’t want us to do. It reminded me of Oldham where we’re very comfortable, it’s almost like this is going to be a really comfortable day with the way we started the game.
“Football isn’t like that, I don’t coach like that, players generally don’t play like that. It seemed to drift from a position of control to a situation where we were suddenly not as free-thinking or as precise in our work.
“What was good about it was that we finished strong and we had some good chances. Omari had a real chance at the back post and we didn’t get clean strikes off Lewi Alessandra and Gime Toure.
“I was a bit disappointed with the referee. I think he’s helped them out a lot there, however he wants to explain it, I’m not that interested. He’s allowed a player who’s committed a foul to not be refereed.
“Rob Kelly is then very intelligent, he brings him off and he’s allowed to keep 11 players on the pitch. There’s nothing I can do about it, I’m just pleased we battled back against things like that and against good opponents in Barrow.”
“Another pleasing thing is that I think we’re dealing with games turning away from us better,” he said. “Just after we had all the games called off, going behind like that having started so well would have hurt us more.
“We may find that we’re not controlling the game as cleanly after we’ve had a slap in the face, but we’re coming back better.
“Ozzy did his thing, it was a penalty, I don’t know how Hayden’s not scored, Omari with that free volley which caught the bottom of his studs. These are all key moments and we could get two or three goals from them.
“We dug in and we earned the right to equalise.”
And the game overall provided a very physical challenge for both sets of players.
“I actually thought there was more football played than I thought there would be,” he told us. “They can be pretty direct, the opposite of the team we played at home when they were rolling it out from the back in their own box.
“They still play the same formation, with three centre halves, and that allows an extra player on the pitch that can help the set plays for and against. They play with the old-fashioned flicker and runner up front.
“Scott Quigley knows what he’s doing but I think our players are learning in that too. But I just felt as though however you want to judge what went on today, they really benefited from us not being ourselves when it came to us playing fast, attacking forward football.
“We turned our passing backwards, and that enabled something else to happen rather than keeping us where we were, which was ascendant, strong, and in a commanding position.
“Hey, mind you, we got a penalty! I’ve just realised. We got one. We’ve had more touches than any League Two team in the box and we finally got a penalty!”
The result, of course, kept the momentum going with United’s run now at four games unbeaten.
“I’m not really interested in that,” he said. “It’s about each game for me, and about looking to beat our next opponent, whatever happened in the game just gone.
“We weren’t at our highest levels on Saturday but there were different things within it. Omari won the ball more in the air than he’s ever done, and he grew off that. Our substitutes really supported what we were try8ing to achieve, and we had every player trying to make things happen.
“When Nick came on he made some good forward passes, they weren’t direct to feet, putting people in on goal, but it was turning the back four and allowing things to build that way. From there we were bringing Omari and Gime into it, but just not quite enough to get that clear-cut last chance.
“It is difficult sometimes in tight games to make changes, especially when you want to support the players who’ve done so well and we’re not quite right. But we got what we wanted in terms of equalising.
“Like I say, it was the next step of adding a third goal that wouldn’t come, even when the opportunities for Aaron and Omari presented themselves in the way they did.
“It was a tight game that way. I like Rob Kelly, he’s a good man, and I want them to stay up, I really do. They’ve invested a lot of money in January, they’ve had another go to try and make sure they’re in the Football League next season. Good luck to them.”
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