Stafford Town travelled to Loughborough to take on Barrow Town and continue their pre-season schedule, the East Midland outfit emerging from the contest with a 4-3 victory. Stafford will be disappointed with the manner of the defeat as they performed well in spells but were not good enough over the full 90 minutes, looking defensively shaky and contributing to their own downfall as several sloppy mistakes gifted the hosts the win. Stafford began the game the brighter of the two sides, moving the ball well and exploiting the extra space out wide, the Barrow wing backs given the impossible task of marking both the full back and the winger. Josh Wilson Jr curled an effort wide for Stafford in the 9th minute before Max Gibbs-Boddie saved with his feet in the Stafford goal two minutes later. Stafford took the lead in the 16th minute; a free kick by Wilson delivered into the box from the right headed back across goal into the corner by Sean Kinsella. Stafford then undid all their good work two minutes later, gifting the ball to their opponents with a poor pass across the backline that was intercepted, leading to a straight run on goal that was finished. Three minutes later Stafford were behind, a Barrow free kick from out wide was curled into the backpost, the ball dropping into the net. Stafford appeared somewhat shell-shocked at the quick turnaround and began to give the ball away cheaply, another Barrow cross to the backpost resulting in a shot that was saved. Barrow were beginning to cause problems with seemingly little effort, winning a number of corners and having a 38th minute drive down the middle that ended with a shot over the bar. As the half entered the final five minutes a ball by Wilson released Nathan Scott on the left, the wide-man toeing the ball past the ‘keeper on the edge of the box but then poking his effort wide of the target as the defenders scrambled to recover on the line. Gibbs-Boddie was forced into another save in the final minute as Stafford looked to regroup at halftime and get back to what they had done well in the opening fifteen minutes of the match. HT 2-1 Barrow Town. The second half began perfectly for Stafford as Wilson quickly played the ball out wide to Scott on the right, allowing him to drive at the defence and slip the ball through to substitute Will Bates, who faked the goalkeeper before finishing, Ryan Taylor there to make sure the ball crossed the line. Barrow were still causing problems from corners, heading one over and forcing Gibbs-Boddie into another save two minutes later. Barrow were forced to introduce an outfield player in goal due to injury to their ‘keeper, before taking the lead again as Stafford once more dropped their level, the ball flicked over a defender in the box and finished into the far corner. Stafford finally began to pass the ball again with purpose, whilst also winning the ball back in midfield, often through the tenacious Ben Wood; who dragged an effort wide from the edge of the box in the 68th minute as Taylor almost stole in at the back post. After Barrow hit the bar with a header from a 76th minute free kick, Stafford equalised two minutes later; Taylor driving into the box, the stand-in ‘keeper unable to hold onto his powerful effort and the ball found the back of the net. Stafford now looked like they may snatch the win as Barrow tired and the game became more stretched, Scott playing the ball out to substitute ‘Kaz’ Danilian on the left but his shot was saved. Barrow had looked likely to score from a corner all game, finally doing so with five minutes to go as the ball dropped in the box and was scrambled home. A topsy-turvy match ended with Barrow hitting the post with two minutes to go, Stafford unable to find an equaliser, the result meaning Stafford have three wins and three losses so far in pre-season. FT 4-3 Barrow Town. Stafford’s final pre-season game sees them make the trip to Allscott on Tuesday 26th July before the season kicks off for real on Saturday 30th July, as one of the promotion favourites, New Mills visit Evans Park.