Gainsborough Trinity produced another remarkable performance that allowed them to advance to the FA Trophy Semi-Final stage for the first time in their history as they beat Barrow 2-0.
First-half efforts from Michael Leary and Luke Waterfall secured the game for Trinity and they now face a two-legged semi-final tie against Blue Square Premier high-fliers Wrexham – with a potential trip to Wembley awaiting in the final.
Blues’ boss Steve Housham said his side performed ‘like lions’ and that they played with ‘big hearts’.
“It’s a funny score, two-nil, but it’s a nice one to have,’ Housham told the Standard. “They weren’t just going to lie down and die and we switched off a little but the boys have played like lions tonight.”
“They’ve played with big hearts and they have stood up and been counted. We’ve worked hard for the last 45 minutes but they try to perform like this week in, week out.”
“We’ve scored two well worked goals. Set-pieces were our forte last year. You’ve got to have a good delivery and good movement and we had that on both occasions.”
Trinity started the brighter of the two sides in the first half and fashioned the first real opening of the game just before the ten minute mark when Leary saw a header saved at the near-post after a free-kick from Craig Nelthorpe found him unmarked.
Simon Russell fired an effort wide from 18 yards after that but just a couple of minutes later
Gainsborough finally had the lead their early efforts had deserved.
Referee Seb Stockbridge had awarded Trinity a free-kick about 40 yards from goal and Terry Hawkridge swung in a glorious ball to the back post. Darryn Stamp expertly headed it back across goal and captain Leary was on hand to tap the ball in from two yards out.
That free-kick failed to serve as a warning of Trinity’s danger from set-pieces and, five minutes later, another Hawkridge free-kick led to a goal. This time he whipped the ball straight onto the head of Luke Waterfall, who had lost his man with ease, and he powered a firm header into the top left-hand corner of the net.
For the remainder of the first half Gainsborough seemed comfortable but Barrow almost crept back into the game on the stroke of half-time. A long free-kick was flicked on to Adam Boyes and he was unfortunate to see his side-footed effort come back of the inside of the post – straight into the arms of the previously beaten Jan Budtz.
The second half was a much more testing time for Trinity and they were given an early scare when Barrow right-back Matt Flynn headed against the crossbar from a corner. Left-back Mike Pearson then got in on the act just before the hour mark when he got in behind the Blues defence, only to see his shot turned away expertly by Jan Budtz.
Gainsborough managed to weather the storm and battled hard to make sure Barrow, who were enjoying the majority of possession, couldn’t create many clear cut chances and it wasn’t until the final ten minutes that they did so.
They had two excellent chances to get themselves back into the game but Trinity defenders were throwing themselves in to block shots, first Waterfall and then Josh Wilde putting their bodies on the line to help keep the score at two-nil.
Steve Housham was delighted for the fans who turned up, telling the Standard: “Credit to the fans who turned up in their numbers again. They can be proud tonight. We’ve done it for them and now they’ve got a nice trip to Wales.”
“We go to Droylsden next and that’s a game we need three points from to keep in the hunt for the play-offs and I say bring it on.”
Trinity: Budtz, Roma, Wilde, Waterfall, Hone, Leary, Russell, Nelthorpe, Yates, Stamp (Clarke 75), Hawkridge. Subs not used: Connor, Young, Thompson, White.
Barrow: S. Pearson, Flynn, Skelton, Hessey, M. Pearson, McConville (Rowe), Owen, Harvey, Baker, Boyes, Rutherford. Subs not used: Woodead, Hunter.