A terrific brace from Tom Conlon secured another win for Darrell Clarke’s side as Vale look to continue this brilliant run of form until the end of the season.
Conlon’s first might just have won the Goal of the Season competition with only three games left to go. Luke Joyce’s header bounced up off the pitch into Conlon’s chest who turned and fired an effort from inside the centre circle towards goal, catching Joel Dixon off his line to give Vale the lead.
His second was certainly more of a team effort than the first, a flicked header on from Tom Pope found its way to Will Swan who got in behind the Barrow defence. A last-ditch tackle was put in successfully, but the ball rolled into the path of Conlon who was all alone to place the ball into the top left corner to seal the points.
Clarke was delighted with how his team battled, not just in this game but in the other 7 games of this 8-match unbeaten run. He highlighted the defensive work in each of those games too which has now been rewarded with five clean sheets in a row, the first time the club have reached that milestone since 2010.
Clarke said “The battling spirit of the side and defending as a team, clean sheet, five in a row now. Bodies on the line but what a real special moment for the goal.
“He has that unbelievable skill, ability. It’s not luck, he’s seen the goalie off his line. It’s a great, great finish for a great lad. I can’t speak highly enough of him since I’ve come in the building from day dot, really maturing. This run, the bad run will make him an even better leader and his performances have been top notch.”
Leon Legge received praise from Clarke for his recent performances in the middle of the three centre backs which has helped him to flourish. Clarke also mentioned the ugly side of the game, needing to do the difficult work well, getting in the faces of the opposition to stamp down their authority.
“Leggey’s a decent centre half, middle centre half of a back three. Him (Shaun) Brisley and (Nathan Smith) Smithy, got a little bit of legs next to him. We’re not getting done by the sides so putting someone extra in there against centre forwards who weren’t really on form, making sure they work hard and try and get those special moments in the game.
“Being ugly, scruffy. Doing what we need to do to win football games and the lads have been doing that in abundance, we keep working away.”
Tom Conlon was given the chance to talk us through that goal himself straight after the game and was smiling throughout. Many had compared the goal to the one in the Yeovil Town home fixture in 2019 which was another spectacular strike from the midfielder who is loving the form he and his team is in at the moment.
“It’s just sat up lovely for me - I’ve hit it and the moment I hit it I knew it had a good chance. It’s lovely to see it go in.
“I’ve always said I want to get to double figures and that would be lovely, I’m one off now. Three games to go and that’d be brilliant if I could do that. “