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Opposition Guide: Barrow

22 October 2021

Walsall will be looking to earn back-to-back wins in the league for the first time this season when they host Barrow at the Banks’s Stadium.

The Saddlers are five unbeaten in all competitions and will go into Saturday’s match full of confidence.

The Bluebirds are embarking on their second season back in the EFL and have made a steady start to the 2021/22 campaign.

We take a closer look at Barrow in our opposition guide.

 

FULL NAME: BARROW AFC

NICKNAME: THE BLUEBIRDS

FOUNDED: 1901

STADIUM: HOLKER STREET

LAST SEASON: 21ST (LEAGUE TWO)

CURRENT POSITION: 11TH

 

MANAGER: MARK COOPER

Barrow boss Mark Cooper, son of former Leeds United and England defender Terry Cooper, began his managerial career in 2004 with Tamworth.

He joined Kettering Town in 2007 and won the Conference South in his first season, gaining promotion to the Conference Premier. In the 2008-09 campaign, he guided the Poppies to the fourth round of the FA Cup where they faced Premier League side Fulham.

In November 2009, he moved to Championship club Peterborough United, succeeding Darren Ferguson.

Cooper was relieved of his duties at London Road in February 2010. Further spells at Darlington, a second stint at Kettering Town and AFC Telford United.

In the summer of 2013, Cooper became manager of then League One club Swindon Town. In the 2014-15 season, Cooper led the Robins to the League One play-off final but his team fell to a 4-0 defeat to Preston North End.

He left the County Ground in October 2015 and returned to management in March 2016 where he had a brief spell at Notts County.

Just two months later, he was appointed as manager of Forest Green Rovers. He guided Rovers to the EFL in his first season in charge with a 3-1 victory over Tranmere Rovers in the 2017 National League play-off final.

Cooper led the Gloucestershire side to survival in their first season and then to the League Two play-offs in 2019, narrowly missing losing in the semi-final with a 2-1 aggregate defeat to Tranmere.

After almost five years in charge, Cooper left Forest Green in April 2021 following a 2-1 defeat to the Saddlers.

He made a swift return to management in the summer with Barrow where he has made a solid start.

 

ONES TO WATCH

Experienced midfielder Ollie Banks has already had his highest scoring season since 2013/14.

He has six goals to his name already and has been influential for Barrow so far this season. He has plenty of know-how of League Two having won promotion with Tranmere Rovers in 2018-19 season.

Offrande Zanzala has also started well since joining from Carlisle United. He has netted four in all competitions.

Another player to watch will be a familiar one to Saddlers fans. Former striker Josh Gordon moved to Barrow in the summer.

He has scored twice so far with his strike against Newport County winning the September goal of the month award.

 

FORM GUIDE

LAST 6: DLDLWW

Barrow are without a win in four in all competitions with two draws and two defeats.

They’ve won twice on the road this season and picked up seven points from a possible 18 away from home.

They are 11th in the table but just a point ahead of the Saddlers who are 16th.

 

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Graphic: Edward Martin

Walsall and Barrow have met 35 times overall with the first coming back in 1922.

The Saddlers have won 14 of the meetings while Barrow have 11 victories.

Barrow ended a sequence of 11 without a win against the Saddlers with the 1-0 victory at the Banks’s stadium back in March.

 

PLAYED FOR BOTH

Saddlers midfielder Rory Holden enjoyed a loan spell at Barrow in the 2018-19 season where he played five times in the National League.

Josh Gordon played 123 times and scored 27 times during a three-year spell with the Saddlers before he moved to Cumbria on a free transfer in the summer.

 


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