REPORT: Wanderers v Barrow AFC

Wanderers booked their place in the last-16 of the Papa Johns Trophy as Elias Kachunga came off the bench to seal the deal.

Whites’ boss Ian Evatt therefore got the better of his former employers as Wanderers put their name in the hat for Thursday’s draw.

But it wasn’t entirely plain-sailing against the League Two Bluebirds after Wanderers had let slip a two-goal lead.

Evatt’s men looked to be cruising after Dapo Afolayan followed his dramatic weekend winner with his fifth goal of the season and Jon Dadi Bodvarssonmade it 2-0 seven minutes before half-time.

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But with Barrow pulling one back before the break and then levelling through skipper Niall Canavan early in the second half the tie was far from over.

Wanderers needed to find another goal and not for the first time this season it was a substitution that made the difference as Kachunga stepped up as the right man in the right place to tap in a welcome winner and keep alive hopes of a run to Wembley.

Wanderers made nine changes to the side that had started Saturday’s victory at Fleetwood but still had plenty of quality in their ranks.

Among those getting an opportunity to try and secure a passage through was goalkeeper Joel Dixon, who faced the club where he made over 200 appearances and helped to promotion to the EFL under Evatt.

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Kieran Sadlier also started a couple of days after becoming a new dad and the player short-listed for the player-of-the-round award in the group stages almost made an immediate impact with a lovely run and cross which just eluded a sliding Dion Charles in front of goal.

Kyle Dempsey provided a similarly teasing cross moments later but unfortunately for the midfielder his return from suspension lasted only 20 minutes before injury curtailed his evening.

That meant an early outing for Afolayan from the bench and with his first touch he gave Wanderers a deserved lead mid-way through the first half, running behind the Barrow defence and onto a lovely floated pass from MJ Williams to nod past Paul Farman.

It was pretty comfortable stuff for the Whites and eight minutes before the break they doubled their advantage to seemingly take firmer control of the tie.

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Again they moved the ball well with Afolayan swinging a pass out for Sadlier to cushion a perfect cross to the back post where Bodvarsson swept the ball home to claim his sixth goal of the season.

Barrow had rarely threatened but out of nowhere they quickly pulled a goal back to keep the contest alive as Josh Kay followed up to ram the ball home after Dixon hadn’t held a low drive from Ben Whitfield following an apparent foul on Afolayan in the build-up.

That gave the visitors renewed hope and 11 minutes into the second half they were level.

Kay was again involved in winning a corner and when that was flicked on, Canavan nodded in to leave Wanderers having to do it all again.

With just under half an hour to go Evatt sent on fresh legs to try and regain the momentum and avoid the prospect of a penalty shoot-out and with 17 minutes remaining the moved paid off when Kachunga restored the Whites’ lead.

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Afolayan again caused the problems for Barrow with another twisting run and shot which hit a post and Kachunga was perfectly placed to tap in his second goal of the campaign.

Wanderers weren’t quite over the line as Josh Gordon blasted the chance of an instant reply over the top but having steadied the ship Wanderers comfortably managed the final few minutes to end a productive month on a high and keep challenging on two fronts.

Wanderers: Dixon; Toal, Almeida Santos, Iredale; Sadlier, Williams, Dempsey (Afolayan 21), John (Bradley 74); Sheehan (Lee 74); Bodvarsson (Bakayoko 64), Charles (Kachunga 64). Substitutes: Johnston, Beck.


Barrow: Farman; Warren, Ray, Canavan, Brough; Whitfield, Foley, Neal (Foley HT), Whitefield (Stevens 83); Waters (Moyo 90), Gordon. Substitutes: Lillis, Nwabuokei, White, Kenlock.

Booked: Neal, Kay, Ray

Referee: Rebecca Welch

Attendance: 2,381 (585 Barrow)

Read Time: 4 mins