AKIL Wright scored twice as Barrow AFC came from behind to seal an extra-time FA Trophy triumph over Harrogate Town.

BARROW AFC produced a fighting, battling display of epic performance to deny Harrogate Town their moment in the FA Trophy sun.

Twice Town have come close to knocking the Bluebirds out of the competition – and twice they have been denied by late goals.

This time it was Akil Wright with a 90th-minute goal for AFC that sent the tie to extra time, before Lindon Meikle and Wright again scored to ensure the unbeaten run stretches to 24 matches.

Harrogate were superb and will feel they deserved to go through, but once again Paul Cox’s team found a way to win and they remain on the road to Wembley, with a home tie with Matlock Town to come in January.

Manager Paul Cox made four changes to his side from the first encounter – with a virus accounting for Danny Livesey, Ryan Yates and Jordan Williams, and Byron Harrison moved to the bench.

That allowed Ross Hannah, Akil Wright, Andy Haworth and Euan Murray to come into the side, with Hannah up front, Haworth wide right and Murray and Wright at the centre of defence and midfield respectively.

Much as on Saturday, the early play was all Barrow, with a Liam Hughes free-kick from 25 yards going up and over the wall but straight at keeper Chris Elliott, and Wright slipped when almost set free by a Hannah through ball.

A Richie Bennett free-kick came close to putting Hannah through on goal, but Elliott was out of his area to clear, before Tim Erlandsson could only punch clear a corner to the edge of the 18-yard box and Warren Burrell volleyed wide with Town’s first chance.

Having come close to breaking through, Hannah opened the scoring as Alex-Ray Harvey played a ball over the top from halfway that had the striker running through on goal.

Hannah composed himself, watched the keeper and picked his spot like the proven hitman he is, slotting into the bottom corner.

Town pushed back and a Moussa Diarra clearance hit a visiting attacker, with the home defence thinking it was going out for a goal-kick.

It did not and the ball eventually came to Andi Thanoj, who shot wide of the target.

JP Pittman was off-target too with their next chance, skewing a shot from inside the box that went across the face of goal, past Eralandsson and towards Beeley. But Chib Chilaka was there as well and it was he who took the ball with his back to goal and somehow managed to turn and slot it past the home keeper to bring the teams level.

There were chances for a second for Barrow before the break, with Diarra just unable to reach one flick-on at the back post and Haworth connecting with a snap shot from another that flew just wide.

The Bluebirds went looking for an early goal after half-time, with Bennett raking a shot from the right channel low and wide of the near post before Harvey fired over from 20 yards after a Haworth effort was blocked into his path.

Erlandsson came and missed a free-kick floated into the air, with the ball instead hitting the unsuspecting Diarra and going just wide – though the flag of the linesman would have saved any embarrassment had it gone into his own net.

A fast break from Barrow, with another Bennett flick picked up with skill by Hannah, saw the striker make it to the edge of the area and pass in front of the forward-rushing Haworth, whose effort when presented with the goal whizzed past the outside of the post.

The chances came and went and Harrogate pounced.

A defensive mistake, with Nick Anderton losing track of the ball, allowed Pittman in on the right of the area with acres of space and lots of time. He needed no second invitation and slotted under Erlandsson to give Town the lead.

The home side now had extra drive in their attacks, with Anderton working hard on the left and playing the ball into the centre, where Hannah left it for Haworth, but he shot at Elliott.

A Diarra flick-on from a free-kick found Bennett inside the six-yard box, but he hooked a shot over the bar. Even with half-an-hour to go there was an element of desperation.

It was equally true of the defence, which fell asleep and allowed Pittman through one-on-one with Erlandsson, though Diarra did force his way back in to make it awkward as the striker slid a shot, almost in slow motion, just inches past the far post when it should have been 3-1.

Chilaka was the next man with a chance, hit straight at Erlandsson at the near post, with the home side looking disjointed at the back – far from their usual selves against a team who seems to have the key to unlock them.

Hughes rocketed a shot from 18 yards just past the post with his last kick before being replaced by Byron Harrison as Cox went for it much as he did late on at Wetherby Road.

Too often Barrow were wasteful when they got to the Town area, with crosses behind their targets or players wanting to0 much time to pick out a ball and ending up being closed down and producing nothing.

Diarra did superbly to dispossess Marcus Day when he was through on goal, before Harry Panayiotou could not mark his debut from the bench with an immediate goal as he headed a corner wide of the near post. He could not do it either from a scramble on the six-yard line as everything was thrown at the visitors.

It paid off in dramatic fashion in the 90th-minute as Wright popped up and rifled home a corner from five yards out in the middle of the goal, to the delight of the home support.

That joy was double just 25 seconds into extra-time as Hannah shot across goal and the ball fell to Meikle at the far post, who fired into the net, with Elliott standing no chance.

It could have been game over when Panayiotou was through and rounded Elliott. He was pushed wide but his ball found Hannah, whose shot was blocked but came back to the debutant. He and the fans near the goal thought he had scored as his effort was stopped near the line by Elliott, but the linesman said it had not crossed and Town cleared.

Louie Swain was lucky not to see red for Harrogate with an awful tackle on Beeley, before Diarra headed just wide with a towering effort at the end of the first half of extra-time.

The fourth goal arrived as Elliott spilled a cross from the left and the ball came to Wright, running in late and hitting the back of the net in decisive fashion.

Harvey struck a fine effort from a Hannah lay-off but Elliott was equal to this one to turn it round the post and prevent a further goal.


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