PREVIEW: Barrow v Luton Town

Life is starting to look just a little bit rosier for Barrow AFC, writes Mike Simmonds.

A transfer embargo meant the Bluebirds headed to Kenilworth Road last month with just 13 players in their match day squad and were unceremoniously thumped 6-1

Since then though, following the payment to PAYE of outstanding monies, the Football Conference lifted the club’s registration embargo and they were allowed to bring in new players.

They have done so too, completing the protracted signing of Stockport County defender Danny O’Donnell on a 16-month contract.

Joining O’Donnell is Fleetwood striker Danny L Rowe, who has moved to Barrow for the rest of the season on loan.

The 22-year-old has been at Stockport this campaign, neting once in 14 games, and his arrival means the club now have two players called Danny Rowe at the club.

Meanwhile, on transfer deadline day, striker and former favourite Lee McEvilly agreed to return to Barrow.

He headed an equaliser in the 2010 FA Tropy Final against Stevenage, with former Town striker Jason Walker netting the winner in a 2-1 win.

McEvilly left Warrington Town before Christmas and has been training with Dave Bayliss’ squad before completing his move.

Meanwhile, on the pitch, Barrow have also improved as they went to Conference promotion hopefuls Newport County and won 2-0, before triumphing in the FA Trophy against Gateshead at the fifth time of asking to set up a semi-final tie against Wrexham.

Assistant boss Ashley Hoskin believes the newfound confidence in his side can inspire them on Saturday and feels the demolition at Town won’t play a part on the day.

He told the North-West Evening Mail: “We went to Luton and got absolutely mauled, but we’ve got a couple of new faces in there, who hopefully can make a difference to us, and we are playing some good stuff.

“You look at what Luton are – the stadium, the crowds they get, the cup run they are on – and you know it’s going to be tough.

“We went there and got spanked, 6-1, so we know it’s going to be difficult. But we’re at Holker Street and hopefully the fans will get out in big numbers and support us.

“We’ve got some new lads in and I’m a great believer that it’s 11 against 11 at the end of the day.

“We’re at home and it’s up to us to get out on the front foot. We know they are decent and if we allow them to play, they will play.

“We’ve got a game-plan in mind and we’re going to be quite attack-minded and we’re going to go for it.”

Skipper Mike Pearson added: “We’ll be looking to get our own back on them.

“They gave us a good hiding down there, so we’ll be looking to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Man in the middle: Anthony Backhouse - official has reffed 14 games this season, showing 43 yellow cards and just the one red.

Taken one Luton game already, the 3-0 horror show at Alfreton, while Barrow faired much better in their only game under Backhouse’s charge, winning 1-0 at Gateshead.

Team news: Dannny Rowe and Danny O’Donnell are in contention after being cup-tied for the 3-2 Trophy win over Gateshead.

Defenders Gavin Skelton (achilles) and Sean Hessey (foot) and winger Paul Rutherford (knee) all picked up knocks against the Heed, but should be fit.

Meanwhile, Town can recall the cup-tied duo Greg Taylor and Scott Neilson, with new signings Dave Martin and Steve McNulty available too, but winger James Dance has moved on loan to Nuneaton.

The injured pair of Garry Richards and Danny Spiller remain out.

Top BSBP scorer: Hatters - Stuart Fleetwood (10). Bluebirds - Adam Boyes (8).

In charge: Dave Bayliss - Liverpool born defender who joined Rochdale, making over 150 appearances before spells at Luton, Chester City, Wrexham and then back at Spotland.

Moved to Lancaster City in 2006 and then joined Barrow becoming joint manager alongside Darren Sheridan in November 2007.

Led the Bluebirds back into the Conference with a play-off win over Stalybridge Celtic in 2008-09 and also masterminded a Wembley appearance in the FA Trophy final where they lost 2-1 to Stevenage after extra time.

Took sole charge when Sheridan left the club in February 2012.

View from the opposition: Last season’s match-winner Alex-Ray Harvey said: “I’ve good memories of playing Luton at home.

“Hopefully we can get another little run going now when we need it.

“We need to improve our home form but I think we’ve got a chance against anyone at home.

“We’re in the same position as we were when we played them away. They were on a high after beating Wolves (1-0 in the FA Cup third round) and now they’ve just beaten Norwich.

“But we’ve won our last two games, so we are high in confidence and we go out there with the belief we can beat anyone.”

One to watch: Adam Boyes - Barrow’s top scorer in all competitions, is back in form in the league once more with three goals in his last five games, including the consolation at Kenilworth Road, and is now into double figures this campaign.

The 22-year-old started life at York, with spells with Scunthrope, Kidderminster and Boston before joining Barrow in July 2011 and netted 16 times.

Friendly faces: Boss Dave Bayliss joined Luton in 2001-02, and spent four seasons at Kenilworth Road, making 37 league appearances before being released in the summer of 2005.

Town stiker Jon Shaw also had a loan spell at Barrow during the 2009-10 season from Rochdale. Scored five goals in 14 Conference appearances and played against Luton in a 1-0 defeat at Kenilworth Road as Adam Newton netted the winner.

Recent Hatters signing Steve McNulty joined Barrow from Vauxhall Motors and spent two years at Holker Street before moving to Fleetwood Town for a then-club record fee of £17,000 in July 2009.

We’ve got form: Holker Street isn’t the happiest of hunting grounds for Town with three wins, three defeats and a draw in their trips north, netting four times and conceding six.

Luton have never scored more than one at Barrow though, with their three wins all by a single goal margin, the biggest defeat a 3-0 reverse back in November 1966.

Last time out: Luton were beaten 1-0 by Barrow at Holker Street in the Blue Square Bet Premier last season.

The scores were goalless until Alex-Ray Harvey pounced to score the winner on 73 minutes.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, George Pilkington, Jake Howells, Janos Kovacs, Greg Taylor, Keith Keane, Alex Lawless, Andre Boucaud (Adam Watkins 63), Craig McAllister (John Paul Kissock 79), Stuart Fleetwood, Aaron O’Connor.

Subs not used: Lewis Kidd, Shane Blackett, Danny Crow.

Attendance: 925.

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