Aswad shines as Braintree Town see off nine-man Barrow
ASWAD THOMAS scored a controversial winner, 11 minutes from time, as Braintree Town recorded a 1-0 victory over nine-man Barrow in an action-packed and often spiky game.
Barrow looked destined to hold on to a gutsy point, having played since the third minute with 10 men but Thomas was on hand to plunder the decisive goal, despite vehement protests from the visitors that the ball had already gone out of play before Dean Wells cut the ball back into the six yard box.
To make matters worse for the visitors, substitute Joe Jackson was dismissed in the 89th minute for shoving Wells in the chest, leaving referee Rob Merchant requiring a security escort as he walked down the tunnel.
Ironically, the visitors had the two best chances of the game. In the first half, Adam Boyes dragged the ball wide of an open net after a poor Adam Bailey-Dennis back pass had caught goalkeeper Nathan McDonald out of position.
Then, in the second half, McDonald pulled off a superb reaction save to deny defender Danny Hone from giving his side the lead.
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For the hosts, substitute Brad Quinton struck the same post twice from long-range free-kicks in the second half – the second being gobbled up by Sean Marks, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside – while Barnet-bound Andy Yiadom was denied by a superb tackle from Paul Bolland in injury time.
That all came after the third minute dismissal of Andy Cook for an off the ball incident, which reportedly saw him elbow Wells in the face. Confusion reigned as first Merchant sent off Cook’s strike partner, Boyes, on the instruction of his assistant, before changing his mind and sending off Cook, despite allegedly addressing him as ‘Jamie’ and the striker’s desperate pleas that he was nowhere near the incident.
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In a game low on quality, the best player on the pitch, Thomas, aptly scored the only goal of the game.
A deep free kick to the back post looked to have gone out of play but as the visiting defenders stopped, expecting a goal kick, there was Wells to pull the goal back and give Thomas the easiest of finishes from four yards.
Barrow manager Dave Bayliss was in no doubt that the ball had gone out of play and chose to slam the referee.
Bayliss said: “The referee’s assessor agreed with me that the referee sent the wrong player off and that changed the game. I’ll probably struggle to understand his match report as he obviously could not see who was involved in the incident.
“When we do our assessment of the referee we are going to give him the lowest possible mark and hopefully he will get demoted from this league.
“For the goal, Wells had his backside into the barrier (behind the goal) so unless his chest is four foot wide, I don’t know how the linesman has given that.”
Devonshire, meanwhile preferred to talk about his own team.
“There was only one side that was going to win the game and apart from Nathan’s (McDonald) save, they did not have a shot on target,” he said.
“It was not the best game but we took the three points and it was the first clean sheet in a while so it’s a clean sheet bonus for Nathan.
“Maybe Barrow felt aggrieved but I think we fouled them eight times and they fouled us 27 times so maybe that’s why there was a bit of needle.”
As for Thomas, the left-back’s goal was his second in two home games.
“I think he has got a new girlfriend and since he has met her he has become a lot more consistent,” added Devonshire.
“He has played really well the last four games. I just hope he doesn’t row with his girlfriend before the next game or it might affect his performance!”