Lowestoft Town 2 Barrow 3
Barrow claim the Conference North title with a 3-2 win over Lowestoft Town, who fought back from being three goals down.
Our Main Sponsors – Smith Bros Timber
Platinum Match Sponsors – SNS Construction
Gold Match Sponsors – Loughborough Foxes
Ball-boys (sponsored by Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds Ltd) – Bradwell U12's
Mascot – Ethan Maloney
Lowestoft Town: Jones, Ainsley, Sowunmi, Gaughran, Adam Smith (Mason 53 mins), Haynes-Brown, Woods-Garness (Henderson 53 mins), Lee Smith, Okay, Eagle (Marsden 84 mins), Bammant
Subs not used; Radomski, Jessup
Barrow: Taylor, Copperthwaite, McWilliams, Sheridan (Reid 54 mins), Burns, Grand, Haworth, Harvey, Walker (Guy 76 mins), Cook, Pilkington (Carver 84 mins)
Subs not used; McMillan, Williams
Striker, Reed joined Fisk and Crow on the injury list. While Jarvis was suspended for the blues.
A guard of honour welcomed retiring Lowestoft Town legend Micky Chapman onto the pitch for his last ever match in charge. While a minutes silence to remember the fifty-six supporters who lost their lives in the Bradford City fire in 1985, was impeccably observed just before kick-off.
Lowestoft Town lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation that saw Haynes-Brown sitting just in front of the back four, as the match got underway at a sunny and atmosphere filled Crown Meadow.
Barrow were confident from the off and quicker to the ball than Lowestoft, who were struggling to deal with the movement of the champions-elect early on.
The away support were present in their hundreds and were sent into an early party mood when Sowunmi gifted Barrow the lead. With a ball coming in from the right by Pilkington, Sowunmi looked well positioned to clear but hesitated and this allowed Sheridan to latch onto the free ball and guide it into the net for 1-0 (13 mins).
Barrow continued to prove difficult to live with for the blues as a couple of shots were charged down by an already looking desperate Lowestoft defence.
As the half continued, Lowestoft were not only experiencing why Barrow were at the top of the league but were also causing themselves issues with a real uncertainty in their play. It therefore came as little surprise when the visitors doubled their lead from a well worked free-kick. However, it was a free-kick that Lowestoft should have defended better with Sheridan shaping to shot but instead slipping a pass to an unmarked Howarth on the left and his ball across the area appearing to go in off Guaghran but claimed by opposing defender, Copperthwaite for 2-0 (26 mins).
A rare Lowestoft attacking moment saw Burns forced into defending and clearing a dangerous ball into the area by Bammant. However, it was all looking very one sided with poor defending allowing Barrow in on goal again, as Jones saved a low, bending effort by Pilkington.
The blues looked all over the place and with Barrow being quicker to everything, it was already looking like being a miserable day for the blues and an easy title for the visitors.
A corner from the left saw Walker come within inches of making it three, as his header flashed past the post.
It was all too easy for the visitors, with them looking in complete control as halftime arrived and they left the pitch with a deserving and dominant two goal lead.
Just three minutes of the second half had past when things got even worse for Lowestoft but it was a third goal that came from a very soft penalty decision.
Haynes-Brown appeared to have got the ball with a great tackle against Cook but the linesman saw it differently and awarded a penalty, which Walker fired home for 3-0 (48 mins).
A change in formation and a double substitution saw both Henderson and Mason introduced in place of Woods-Garness and Adam Smith. While the visitors made their first change with Reid replacing Sheridan.
Lowestoft were still getting outplayed though and weren't at the races at all, against an impressive Barrow who were seemingly cruising now.
It wasn't until twenty minutes from the end, before Lowestoft finally showed glimpses of the levels of play that have been familiar for most of 2015. Barrow keeper, Walker was forced to turn an Eagle effort behind and then from the following corner a Sowunmi header flew just over the bar.
Then in a faint moment of hope for the blues, the referee appeared to level up his soft penalty decision from earlier, by awarding an equally soft penalty decision to Lowestoft with Copperthwaite having been harshly judged to have brought Bammant down. Up stepped penalty maestro, Ainsley to fire the ball into the right hand side of the goal for his fourteenth penalty and sixteenth goal of the season to make it 3-1 (71 mins).
Lowestoft now had their backs up, knowing that a second goal would make it a very nervy finish for the title chasing visitors.
Barrow made their second change as Guy replaced Walker but the visitors were now sitting off a little and as a result the blues were now getting more time on the ball. This was also allowing both substitutes, Henderson and Mason to get on the ball more often and stretch the Barrow defensive unit.
Both sides made their final change with just over five minutes remaining, as Barrow replaced Pilkington with Carver and Lowestoft introduced Marsden in place of Eagle.
Then with just four minutes of normal time remaining, things got very interesting. A Lowestoft corner from the left was headed back across goal by Gaughran and with Haynes-Brown eventually getting on the end from close range, it was 3-2 (86 mins). Lowestoft have been masters of the come-back this season and have scored a number of late goals in their matches but surely it wasn't going to happen again, as a nervy Barrow knew that with Fylde winning, they needed all three points for the title.
A booking for Okay preceded four minutes of stoppage time, as for the first time in the match the hundreds of Barrow voices were drowned out by singing and encouragement from the home supporters and in particular the main stand.
As the minutes and seconds dropped away, Lowestoft continued to press. While Barrow did their best to keep them out and keep them out they did, as the final whistle sounded and confirmed Barrow as Conference North Champions.
A pitch invasion saw a great coming together between both sets of supporters; each celebrating for their own reasons but also showing respect and congratulating each other. The Barrow fans were in full voice as they celebrated winning the league title. While the Lowestoft Town faithful rang out chants of "There's only one Micky Chapman" to bring down the curtain on a great day, a fantastic season and an emotional farewell for Micky 'Mr Lowestoft' Chapman.
The club would like to say a huge thank you to all of our staff and volunteers for ensuring that a very busy day ran as smooth as possible. Thank You!!
The players, management and directors would also like to thank our fantastic supporters for the unrelenting and amazing support all season long, home and away. You guys are the difference!!
Finally, it just leaves the decision of the last Man of the Match honours for the season. Our Platinum Match Sponsors chose Jack Ainsley. However, my Man of the Match has to be Micky Chapman. An absolute legend who has given an incredible 32 years of his life to this great club. We all love you Chapo!! Xxx
Details on our 'Night with Micky Chapman' on 4th July will follow over the coming days. Don't forget you can also now get your season ticket for next season, with full details on our website.
Until next season, thank you!