Scout report: This is what Chesterfield can expect from Ian Evatt's Barrow team this weekend
Former Spireite Ian Evatt will be hoping to get one over his old club when he returns to the Proact as manager of Barrow on Saturday.
Evatt played more than 200 games for Chesterfield over two spells.
The 37-year-old was appointed manager of The Bluebirds in June 2018 and guided them to 10th position in the National League in his first full-time managerial role. They finished 20th the season before.
The centre-back, who also played for Blackpool in the Premier League, joined Barrow after a short spell as caretaker manager of Chesterfield in 2018 but was then released by the club.
'The amount of talent we have got is mad', says Chesterfield's new forwardThis season Barrow have beaten Yeovil Town and Eastleigh but have lost to Stockport County, Harrogate Town and Wrexham and have not recorded a win on the road so far.
The fixture will see the return of ex-Spireites Sam Hird, Brad Barry and Josh Kay.
Chesterfield striker Mike Fondop on manager John Sheridan and having nothing to proveChesterfield defender Anthony Gerrard, who could make his home debut on Saturday, clashed with Evatt at the Proact in February 2017. Gerrard, then playing for Oldham Athletic, had a heated discussion with Evatt, who was playing for Town. The confrontation carried on in the tunnel and Gerrard was given his second yellow card and a subsequent red. After the game
Gerrard predicted that Chesterfield would go on to be relegated from League One, and unfortunately he was proved right.
We asked Matt Wright, who covers Barrow for local newspaper The Mail, for his opinion on what Chesterfield fans can expect to see from The Bluebirds on Saturday...
What's your assessment of Barrow's season so far?
Overall, it's been frustrating. In both of their away games so far this season, Barrow have carelessly let half-time leads slip and conceded some very soft goals in the process. However, they've been far more solid in their last two home games, keeping clean sheets in winning both and barely gave Yeovil a glimpse of their goal last Saturday. Right now, it's hard to predict which side of the Bluebirds will show up.
How has Ian Evatt done in his first year in the job?
The best thing he's done is raise expectations. When Evatt took charge last year, Barrow were coming off the back of a campaign where they were lucky to avoid relegation and supporters were expecting another struggle. Instead, they got a season where they were in the top half for the majority and saw a big improvement in the style of play. What was missing, however, was consistency, as they could just as easily lose at home to the likes of Dover and Boreham Wood than win at Solihull or Wrexham.
What can Chesterfield fans expect from Barrow on Saturday in terms of style of play?
For the most part, Barrow will look to dominate possession at the Proact, but they have shown in the last two home games they're prepared to be more pragmatic in their style if they need shore things up at the back. They have a 6ft 3in striker in Scott Quigley, but don't just expect them to lump the ball towards him, as Evatt prefers his players to keep the ball on the floor.
Who are the key men for Barrow?
Quigley is threatening to become a fan favourite after scoring in his last three games, while Josh Kay and Dior Angus both provide plenty of threat down the wings. Jason Taylor is Barrow's Mr Consistent and showed against Yeovil he can be juest as reliable in defence as he is in setting the tone for his team in midfield.
What are the expectations for Barrow this season?
Evatt has made competing for a play-off place non-negotiable this season. While most around the club were satisfied with last season's 10th place finish, he always maintained that he believed his team had under-achieved. He's been as frustrated as any with the Bluebirds' inconsistent start, as he expects more from his players than what they've produced so far.
Barrow have three former Chesterfield players - Hird, Barry and Kay - how are they getting on and are they likely to play?
Sam Hird hasn't always had the best of times in defence this season, as he has been beaten in the air more often than he would have liked. However, he was much more secure in the win against Yeovil.
Brad Barry has looked very assured so far, one of the more consistent performers. He gets forward to good effect and covers back well in defence when needed.
Josh Kay's approach work has been excellent so far and many of Barrow's brighter moments start with him. His pace causes defenders problems, as does his footwork, but his end product still lets him down at times. He admits himself he needs to start scoring tap-ins.
If fit, all three of these players are likely to be part of their starting line-up.
What's your score prediction?
I don't see much between these teams, so I'm going to sit on the fence. 1-1