Bluebirds brought down to earth

| League
Att: 1035
Barrow
Doherty (41), Rowlands (59), Brady (75)
3 - 4
Slough Town
McKinnon (1, 0-3), Stanley (11), Pluckrose (1-4)
Neal Stanley
Slough staved off a determined second half recovery by relegation-haunted Barrow to record their sixth away success of the season at Holker Street. The Rebels led 4-1 at half time, but the margin was reduced to just one goal with 15 minutes remaining. But the sending off of Bluebirds' full back Paul Slater in the 80th minute went some way to defusing their comeback.

The result, refreshing after taking just one point against two other relegation-embattled sides at home recently, lifted the Rebels back into eighth place. Top striker Paul McKinnon took only 20 seconds to give Slough a dream start, darting onto a through ball from Steve Whitby, shimmying to the right to unbalance keeper Peter McDonnell and then chipping to the far post.

Neal Stanley was equally alert to a miskicked clearance from Mark Rutter in the 11th minute, pouncing on the loose ball and giving McDonnell little chance with his shot from the edge of the box.

And McKinnon further punished a mistake by Rutter, forming a new and unsteady partnership with Gary Messenger in the heart of the defence. McKinnon was able to stride through the middle and sidefoot home into the bottom right corner from 15 yards — his 12th league goal of the season.

Barrow, strengthened by former Altrincham manager John King with several players from the Cheshire club, pulled a goal back in the 41st. One of King's recruits, John Brady, beat Mark Mallinson on the edge of the box to get in a cross which at first looked to be going out. Incoming Phil Power mistimed his run but up popped Neil Doherty to push his left-foot shot past Chuck Moussaddik.

Slough replied through Alan Pluckrose, again a one-on-one situation in which he showed superb finishing. Pluckrose drove in on the target after being released on the left and slid the ball confidently under McDonnell.

With a favouring wind and a desperate plight to motivate them, Barrow performed an almost inevitable revival. Once more it was the tough Altrincham factor which made the difference. Former Robins' defender Paul Rowlands rose above everyone to head home a corner in the 59th minute while Brady made it 4-3 in the 75th, Rowlands flicking on for sub Paddy Atkinson to make the vital pass.

Following an earlier booking for dissent, Slater was then dismissed for a two-footed challenge on Mallinson which saw the Slough full back stretchered off. During the incident Doherty saw his shot tipped onto the bar by Moussaddik before the referee pulled play back.

Slough managed nervously to deal with Barrow's continued pressure, Phil Stacey causing palpitations when he sliced a clearance over his own crossbar five minutes from the end. "Nerves were stretched at the end," admitted sharpshooter McKinnon afterwards. "The players were feeling bad about the way things went, against bottom clubs Cheltenham and Stafford — a little bit of personal pride made the difference at Barrow."

The worldly McKinnon also admitted Slough's position in the league could be affecting their motivation. "There is always the danger of complacency when only pride is at stake but considering that, motivation levels are quite high. Clubs fighting for survival at this stage of the season, on the other hand, are always keyed-up."

Barrow Line up

McDonnell, Slater, McHugh, Rowlands, Messenger, Kelly, Rutter, Burgess, Brady, Power, Doherty. Subs: Atkinson, Gilmour.

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