Before the game on Saturday there was all the reassuring talk of how Barrow were part-timers, how they were hovering above the relegation zone, how they’d had a seven hour trip south and how they arrived like cub scouts on a day trip to Alton Towers.
On that analysis, it was a surprise they didn’t turn up playing in pyjamas and sleeping bags. The supposition that these amateurs were incapable of giving us professionals a game was always a load of nonsense – and has proven to be so many times in the past. The net benefit can’t be more than, say 5% (of whatever you measure these things in) – which is significant over a season, but not over a half of football.
But both our team and fans have learnt the art of patience. Since Christmas, we’ve scored just four before half-time and two of those were against Ebbsfleet. Partly, I suspect, we’re all a little scared of Chris Wilder still, he’s very demanding and we don’t want to upset him. Also, Wilder’s team is structured around a short game, which allows the likes of Clist, Murray, Farrell and Constable to keep probing and possession. This is a significant shift from the team whose plan B was made up of Adam Murray launching long Hoddle-esque balls for Yemi to run half a pitch to get.
So, for now, another demon is laid to rest. But we may need to remain patient for some time yet – no matter how many different ways I try to predict how the remaining fixtures will go – we still don’t have enough to make the play-offs. And then will come the summer and the inevitable merry-go round of players in and players out. Stability may be something we crave, but we’re still some way from achieving it I fear.