Dronfield Town, in their current guise, have only been around for twenty years. In that time they have entered the FA Vase four times, reaching Round 1 on three occasions including last season when thy went down 7-0 at City of Liverpool. In the last round they created a little cup upset by seeing off United Counties Premier side Harborough Town, 3-1.
In the league they are currently in 8th spot with 19 points for 9 games and are unbeaten on the road.
Arriving at Riverside Park 30 minutes before kick-off I managed to find one of the last remaining parking spots and made my way through the single turnstile into the ground. The first thing that you notice, not just upon entering the ground, but even from turning off the main road up the short service road that leads to the car park, is that the ground and the surroundings are well kept, neat and very tidy. When you get into the ground this image is further enhanced. The fencing around the pitch is white and gleaming, there is no peeling paintwork. The walkway looks freshly swept and almost clean enough to eat your dinner off. Turning right from the turnstile you see the facilities block, set back a little from the pitch. This too is clean and very well presented and is fronted by a patio area, compete with picnic style benches and well manicured grass. The pitch itself resembles a bowling green and is obviously tended by a talented groundsman. I may sound like I am going a little over the top here but, believe me (and if you don't, go and visit yourself), this is one of the best kept grounds I have ever seen. It's a great credit to the club, the East Midland Counties League, and Step 6 football in general.
I took up a position on the far side of the ground for the first half were a hedge behind the standing area provided some protection from the gusts of wind. It was clear that playing conditions were going to be quite tricky. It was at this point that I first noticed the small group standing on the footbridge that runs behind one of the goals at Riverside Park. A great vantage point to watch the game, no doubt, but a bit exposed on such a windy day.
It was also apparent from very early on that the sides were quite evenly matched. The opening salvos from both sides were pretty much restricted to the centre of the park, with both keepers being spectators for the first 10 minutes or so. The first chance of any great note fell to the home side on 12 minutes when right-wing cross was headed over the bar by striker James Parker.
Dronfield tried to hit back and, on the half-hour mark, they got their first effort on target when Chappell hit a shot from the edge of the box that failed to unduly worry Dillon.
More sparring follow but neither keeper was made to get his knees dirty.
HT Barrow Town 0 Dronfield Town 0. As the scoreline suggests there's not a lot between the sides. Barrow certainly had a short period where they were on top and probably feel they should be in front at the break. The gusty wind is not helping the game.
Just before the hour mark Barrow were almost in again when Kirk was slipped in clear of the Dronfield defence. However, Naylor was off his line quickly to smother the chance.
Two minutes later the home side were made to regret their missed chances. Gibson played a lovely pass inside the full-back for Dan Wood to run onto. The striker calmly side-footed the ball past the advancing Dillon to make it 0-1.
The response from Barrow was to press forward in search of an equaliser which, without the agility of Naylor, they would have got just 5 minutes after going behind. The visiting keeper going full stretch to turn a goal-bound shot away.
Dronfield were dropping deeper and deeper. Relying heavily on the wind to carry long balls over the top for Gibson and Wood to run onto. The two did their best to keep the home side occupied but Barrow kept knocking on the door.
After 74 minutes they came within a whisker of getting back on level terms. The ball was pin-balling around the visitors six-yard area but no Barrow player could get a killer blow to it and, somehow, Dronfield managed to scramble it clear.
Even with four minutes of added time, growing urgency and frustration, the home side could not find an equaliser.
FT Barrow Town 0 Dronfield Town 1. A good game of football played in extremely difficult conditions. It was always going to be a tight encounter, and it turned out that way. Dan Wood's goal takes Dronfield into the Second Round for the first time in their history. Barrow will look to extend their unbeaten league run and make a push for promotion, starting with a trip to Borrowash who getting hammered 12-1 at Clifton All Whites while this game was happening.
Thanks to both sides for putting on a show even with the conditions and a special mention to the Dronfield contingent, of which their were quite a few, who made the trip down from North Derbyshire.
Barrow Town: Dillon, Finnemore (c), Solomons, Wells, Hawker, Davies, Page, Marriott, Parker, Ginvert, Kirk. Subs: Sheehan, Law, Shaw, Skinner, Brown
Dronfield Town: Naylor, Bebbington, Hill (c), Gladwin, Mintoft, Fairweather, Chappell, Fereday, Gibson, Wood, Ord. Subs: Savage, Fereday, Flower, Siddons
Ground Number: 167