Despite aiming for automatic promotion, Cheltenham Town suffered their ninth defeat of the 2020/21 Sky Bet League Two season as Barrow A.F.C claimed a surprise 2-0 victory.
A freak opener from James Jones stunned those watching on at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium and that lead was doubled in the second half when goalkeeper Josh Griffiths booted the ball against teammate Sean Long and into his own goal.
Cheltenham were left ruing the chances they missed at the end of the first-half as both Chris Hussey and Alfie May had efforts rebounding off the post and cleared off the line respectively.
Michael Duff’s side remain one point clear at the top of the table, however Forest Green will now be able to move above their local rivals if they win their game in-hand.
Park Life correspondent Lucas Goldsmith has taken a closer look at the individual performances from a frustrating evening for the Robins:
Starting XI –
20. Joshua Griffiths – 5
The 19-year-old goalkeeper came into Tuesday’s game in high spirits after being selected for Aidy Boothroyd’s England Under-21 squad, however failed to capitilise on that positivity.
Not much could have been done for the first goal after Ben Tozer misread the cross, but Griffiths didn’t cover himself in glory and after he was involved with the own goal too, the loanee would have to admit himself that it was a poor performance.
He wasn’t awful elsewhere in the game, but he’ll want to forget about this game quickly.
2. Sean Long – 5
Long was unlucky to have an own-goal against his name after having the ball kicked against him in the area, but the defender failed to make any major impact on the game.
A 70% pass success rate shows that Long was one of many that played with caution.
4. Ben Tozer – 4
As club captain, you would have expected much more from Ben Tozer.
The 31-year-old has played in every single minute of Cheltenham’s league campaign this season and has shown himself to be a crucial part of the robins side.
However, it was massively sub-par from the centre-back – particularly with the first goal where he lets a cross go straight past him.
17. Lewis Freestone – 5
A distinctly average performance from Freestone on Tuesday.
He attempted 51 passes, 32 of which in his own half, while also losing five of his seven duels.
The defender has performed much better on other occasions this season, but his poor performance against Barrow meant he was subbed off after 70 minutes.
11. Matty Blair – 5
Blair played the full 90 minutes and looked to attack down the right wing, however, the 31-year-old was another player that shied away from the action.
The wing-back only managed one shot, which was off-target, and one cross during the game as he struggled to get the better of Barrow’s Patrick Brough and Kgosi Ntlhe.
26. Liam Sercombe – 6
As has been the case regularly this season, Sercombe was the best of the bunch in midfield for the Robins – not that it took much on Tuesday.
Anything that was done well by Cheltenham would usually go through the 30-year-old, including a fantastic team move that started with a strong tackle and pass from Sercombe.
That swift counter was blocked on the line, but it showed Sercombe’s desire to make even the slightest impact on the match.
7. Conor Thomas – 5
Thomas was another player who really struggled to dominate his position.
He made very few interceptions and tackles, while also failing to help the team out progressing the ball forward with only 13 passes in the opponents’ half.
18. Finn Azaz – 4
The 20-year-old West Brom loanee was practically non-existent for the 59 minutes he was on the field.
With 41 touches of the ball and all three of his shots off-target, Azaz will have disappointed Michael Duff and his coaching staff.
3. Chris Hussey – 6
Hussey played reasonably well on the left as he worked him and his teammates a flutter of chances towards the end of the first-half.
Most notably for the wing-back, he had an effort rebound off the post before being cleared. He had the keeper watching on and it was a matter of inches, but it wasn’t to be.
What difference would it have made if it had gone in? Would Cheltenham have gone on to win?
10. Alfie May – 5
The Robins’ top scorer was off-colour as he only got two shots away.
As always, you couldn’t fault May for his effort in the first-half as he chased down every ball, however, as the result started to get out of sight, so did the forward.
He would have hoped for more from the game though after seeing a shot cleared off the line during a goalmouth scramble.
9. Sam Smith – 4
Smith had the perfect opportunity to equalise in the first-half as he found the ball at his feet when one-on-one against the goalkeeper Joel Dixon.
The striker was slightly off-balance as he looked to take his shot and only managed a timid effort, which perfectly summarised his 59 minutes on the pitch.
14. Andrew Williams – 3
Last weekend’s hero couldn’t quite repeat his magic as he put in a very poor 31 minute cameo.
Only touching the ball ten times and finishing the game with a 13% pass success rate, the 34-year-old just couldn’t get into the game.
It was maybe due to his teammates somewhat accepting defeat towards the end, but you would expect a lot more from another experienced pro in the squad.
29. Indiana Vassilev – 4
Vassilev came on for Azaz, but wasn’t able to make an impact given the circumstances.
He touched the ball even less than Williams (five times) and only attempted three passes in the 30 minutes he spent on the pitch.
A tad bit of sympathy comes from the fact he is still only 20-years-old, but he’ll surely be demanding more of himself in the future.
23. Callum Wright – 4
20 minutes, six attempted passes, one cross, one duel won and one recovery. That’s Wright’s performance in a sentence.
He did try to impact things, but the tricks and flicks wouldn’t come off and it often ended with Barrow recovering the ball.
28. Ellis Chapman – 4
A neat, but ineffective performance from Chapman.
Completing 14 of his 15 attempted passes, he kept the ball well. However, much like the other players, he couldn’t quite manage the final ball.
24. Grant Horton – unused
25. Tom Chamberlain – unused
- Scott Flinders – unused
Michael Duff will be expecting more from his squad – and especially his captain – when they face Salford City at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium on Saturday.