On Saturday Wembley was cente-stage as the FA Trophy Final took place between Barrow and Stevenage. The FA Trophy is the equivalent to the FA Cup but is the premier competition in non-league football. I managed to get a ticket and I was able to witness one of the most incident packed games I had ever seen. It had passionate fans singing their hearts out for their respective teams. It had 2 straight red cards, a nasty injury to Charlie Griffin that saw him carried off on a stretcher, extra-time and not forgetting 3 superb goals. Although Wembley was just about a quarter full, the atmosphere was amazing and credit must be given to the supporters, especially to the Barrow fans who made the long journey down to London and no doubt the long journey was worth it to see their team lift the trophy. Even before the game, the fans were going to make the most of the day as they marched to support their team. I was sitting amongst the Stevenage fans and they didn’t stop singing throughout. The result will damper their spirits somewhat, but from the chants, they are really excited about next season and playing in the Football League.
Barrow’s route to the final
1st Round: Kettering 0-1 Barrow
2nd Round: Maidenhead 0-1 Barrow
3rd Round: Barrow 1-1 Gateshead
3rd Round Replay: Gateshead 2-3 Barrow
4th Round: Barrow 2-1 York City
Semi- Final 1st Leg: Salisbury 0-1 Barrow
Semi Final 2nd Leg: Barrow 2-1 Salisbury
Stevenage’s Route to the Final
1st Round: Stevenage 2-0 Ebbsfleet Utd
2nd Round: Stevenage 6-0 Vauxhall Motors
3rd Round: Stevenage 4-1 Dover Athletic
4th Round: Stevenage 2-1 Workington
Semi Final 1st Leg: Kidderminster 1-5 Stevenage
Semi Final 2nd Leg: Stevenage 0-0 Kidderminster
Barrow 2-1 Stevenage Borough (AET)
Barrow defied the odds as they beat Stevenage in the FA Carlsberg Trophy at Wembley. In an incident packed game it was Jason Walker who scored a brilliant winner in extra time as Barrow lifted the trophy for the first time in 20 years.
Barrow started the game brightly with Jason Walker having a shot blocked within the first couple of minutes. However against the run of play, Stevenage were in front on 10 minutes. A long kick by keeper Chris Day found its way to Andy Drury on the right. He cut onside onto his left foot and bent the ball into the top left of the net, giving Stuart Tomlinson no chance in the Barrow goal.
Barrow responded well and their chances of snatching a goal were increased on 28 minutes as Stevenage were reduced to 10 men. David Bridges’ two-footed lunge on Barrow’s Andy Bond gave referee Lee Probert no other choice but to send the player off.
Despite the one man advantage, Barrow still couldn’t find the breakthrough and it was Stevenage who could have gone in front. Yemi Odubade flew past Barrow captain Paul Jones but his cross come shot flew just wide of Tomlinson’s right post. However just before half-time Stevenage had another glorious chance to pull further ahead. Adam Drury’s cross was only cleared by the Barrow defence to the feet of Chris Beardsley who shot just over and Stevenage went into the break only 1-0 up.
In the second half, Barrow began to assert themselves on the game and woke up the travelling fans. However they continued to waste chances. Firstly Jason Walker played a neat one-two with Gregg Blundell but fluffed his shot. Then Andy Bond saw his right foot shot sail harmlessly wide. Stevenage responded and a ball from Michael Bostwick found Obudabe but again he shot well wide.
A few minutes later and the speedy Odubade was again the centre of attention. He looked have been fouled in the penalty area after being played in by Adam Drury, but Lee Probert waved away the protests. The game started to liven up after that as Bond went close for Barrow and Jon Ashton saw his header hit the side netting for Stevenage.
However that miss was to prove crucial as moments later, Barrow were back level. A Cross by Paul Rutherford was met by the head of substitute Lee McEvilly and he made no mistake as the ball sailed past Chris Day in the Stevenage goal.
Barrow continued to push forward but were again unable to make the most of their chances as captain Paul Jones headed wide. With the game heading towards extra-time, Barrow could have snatched a winner but Carlos Logan’s left foot shot was saved by sub keeper Ashley Bayes. There was enough time for Barrow’s Robin Holbert to be shown a straight red for an elbow on Charlie Griffin who had to be carried off on a stretcher but the 90 minutes ended with both teams level at 1-1.
Extra time began with Barrow having 10 players and Stevenage having 9 players on the pitch, and the extra space allowed both teams to create chances. Stevenage had the first opportunity to score but Yemi Obudabe’s right foot shot hit the side netting. Barrow responded when a neat flick from a free-kick by Jason Walker was deflected wide.
But Jason Walker was to be the hero as he scored the winner for Barrow in the second half of extra time. Man of the match Paul Rutherford’s pass found Walker and he let the ball roll across his body before unleashing an unstoppable right foot shot past Bayes, sending the travelling Barrow fans into raptures. Stevenage tried to respond but Barrow held on to clinch a famous win against the League Champions by a 2-1 score line.
Barrow: Tomlinson, Spender, Edwards, Jones, Bolland, Wiles (Logan 64), Hulbert, Bond, Walker, Blundell (McEvilly 74), Rutherford (Boyd 110).
Subs not used: Deasy, Pearson.
Stevenage: Day (Bayes 90), Laird, Ashton, Odubade, Byrom (Wilson 59), Roberts, Bridges, Beardsley (Griffin 66), Drury, Bostwick, Henry.
Subs not used: Long, Vincenti.
Man of the Match: Paul Rutherford (Barrow)
Paul Rutherford ran his heart out for Barrow today. He must have covered every blade of the Wembley turf and was instrumental in both Barrow goals that clinched them the FA Trophy.
Barrow fans will be enthusiastic with this result today. They went into the game as the underdogs and came away as the FA Trophy winners which in truth they just about deserved. Stevenage will be disappointed they weren’t able to achieve the double, but will no doubt be looking forward to playing league football next season.