Gainsborough Trinity keeper Phil Barnes says that he and the team are finally doing themselves justice, after a superb showing in his side’s 2-0 win over Harrogate Town in the Skrill North.
With a Lincolnshire County darts match taking place in the Blues Club, a “double top” first half performance was enough to see off a Harrogate side that were made to look very ordinary by an excellent Trinity performance, including some stunning saves from the 34-year old.
“It’s always nice to be in the action and making saves, but the rest of the lads are doing their bit.”
“To be honest, I gave away a few sloppy goals in the early games,” said Barnes.
“We’re now showing some resiliency as a team, everyone’s sticking together and we’re showing it on the pitch.”
“As a team, we’ve now got some belief within ourselves and our back four that we can win games,” said the Trinity keeper.
“We’re unbeaten in five, and even though we’ve had to change it around in defence we’re keeping clean sheets.”
Barnes was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the opening exchanges, but as Trinity grew into the game, the visitors began to lose discipline and it wasn’t long before the Blues took the lead.
With just under half an hour gone, Darryn Stamp drifted away from his marker to nod Jonathan Williams’ corner back towards goal, and Brad Barraclough did the rest – planting the ball firmly past Peter Crook in the Harrogate goal.
With the wind in their sails, the home side started to play some quite magnificent football, and deservedly doubled their lead before the break.
A surging Liam Davis run from midfield drew a clumsy challenge from centre half Leigh Franks as he entered the box, leaving Mr Richardson no option but to point to the spot.
Simon Russell stepped up to the plate, and made no mistake from 12 yards to give Trinity a deserved 2-0 lead.
Having made two attacking changes at the break, Harrogate attempted to re-assert some authority on the game, but solid defending from the Blues limited the visitors to merely a few half chances – Adam Bolder spooning a shot from outside the box, and Chris Hall failing to take advantage of a hint of indecision in the backline during a goalmouth scramble.
Going forward, Davis was giving former Scunthorpe United full-back Cleveland Taylor a torrid time having switched to the left wing following the introduction of Alistair Taylor for his Gainsborough debut, consistently troubling the Harrogate back line with his direct running.
With a final roll of the dice, Simon Weaver threw Paul Beesley on with an hour gone in an attempt to get back into the game, and his introduction coincided with the visitors’ best period in what was a poor overall showing from them.
However, Gainsborough’s back five – back to their familiar positions after being forced to fill in in recent weeks – were more than equal to anything they faced, with Barnes producing a series of quality stops in the last 10 minutes.
The veteran goalkeeper was tested several times late on, pulling off save after save and denying the visitors any way back into the game.
Goals: Barraclough 27, Russell 37 (pen)
Trinity: Barnes, Roma, Wilde, Jonathan Williams, Ward, Young, Russell, Davis, Barraclough (Batty, 90), Stamp, Clayton (Taylor, 65).
Not used: Martin, Lacey, Emery. Harrogate: Crook, Taylor, Merris, Bolder, Franks, Killock, Hardy, Brown, Hall (Beesley, 60), Woods (Nowakowski, 45), Nelthorpe (Worsfold, 45)
Not used: Bloomer, Rowe. Yellow: Nelthorpe (unsporting conduct) 11, Franks (unsporting conduct) 86. Referee: Mr D Richardson.