The opportunity of making a few quid with a lucrative cup run has passed cash strapped Chester City by for another season.
Careless and naive – Chester’s defending in last night’s FA Cup fourth qualifying round replay was a perfect reflection of their off-the-field problems.
Three goals in four minutes blew apart this tie after the Blues had begun to make a decent fist of an even game. Fewer than 1,000 Chester fans turned up to see their side as the game swung one way then the other in the first half.
Barrow had a clutch of chances in the opening 10 minutes before Clark Keltie, Mark Beesley and Michael Coulson began to create some opportunities for the Blues.
A free kick on the half-hour mark saw Anthony Barry, who had earlier passed a fitness test, gather up a half-clearance and feed Neil Ashton.
He crossed to the back post where Jonathan Flynn rose to head at goal, but his effort was saved by Stuart Tomlinson in the Barrow goal.
A minute later, Keltie and Beesley linked up to create a chance which full-back Kevin Roberts blasted towards goal but again, Tomlinson was on hand to thwart his effort.
Two minutes before half-time, Barry was replaced by young Lloyd Ellams as his thigh problem resurfaced. And at half time boss Jim Harvey was forced into another change as Michael Lea succumbed to a knock and was replaced by the hard-working James Owen.
A minute after the restart, Mark Beesley fired in a shot that Tomlinson could only parry into the path of Ellams but with the goal at his mercy the forward could only place the ball back into the keeper’s grateful arms.
Frustration began to creep in for the Blues and Coulson was booked for a foul on Barrow winger Malvin Kamara on the hour before just 60 seconds later James Owen also received a yellow card for fouling the same player. It was this inability to deal with Kamara’s skill of winning free-kicks that eventually sparked Chester’s downfall.
Barrow’s opening came on 73 minutes when, having rejected two previous appeals from the visitors for backpasses, referee Ross Joyce gave a decision against Tim Ryan, the ball coming off his shin as he shepherded it back to John Danby.
Despite packing the box with blue shirts, Jason Walker rolled the ball to Andy Bond and he blasted through the defences to make it 1-0.
This sparked huge celebrations from former Chester City player Dave Bayliss, now manager of Barrow, after he took stick from the Blues fans throughout the game, and the throwing of blue smoke bombs onto the pitch which delayed the restart. When play resumed, the ball was only in play for two minutes when Barrow had a penalty.
Ashton brought down Kamara inside the box and the referee, who had a good position, didn’t hesitate to point to the spot. Walker stepped up and smashed home to double the lead. By this time Chester had imploded and on 77 minutes they were all over the place, allowing Bond to steal in and head home his second of the match.
Ellams had a shot tipped over on 78 minutes as Chester desperately strived for anything positive, but with 10 minutes to go skipper Ryan was booked for petulantly kicking the ball away after Joyce had awarded a free-kick. A late rally two minutes from time saw a Beesley effort cleared by Barrow but in injury time substitute Andy Cook took full advantage of some poor defending to turn last-man Ryan on the halfway line and speed away.
He had plenty of time to come inside on his stronger right foot and slip the ball past Danby to end the Blues’ hopes of a lucrative run in this competition.
Chester City: Danby, Roberts, Ryan, Barry (Ellams 43), Lea (Owen 45), Ashton, Keltie, Coulson, Beesley, Flynn, Kay. Subs: Murphy, Meynell, Wilkinson, Kelly, Blundell.
Barrow: Tomlinson, Spender, Jelleyman, Jones, Pearson, Kamara (Logan 88), Bond, Sheridan (Boyd 94), Walker (Cook 88), Shaw, Rutherford. Subs: Deasy, Bayliss, Dugdale, Morris. Goalscorers: Bond (2), Walker (Pen), Cook.
Referee: Ross Joyce (Cleveland).
Attendance: 996 Chester City fans- 291 Barrow fans.