When Fremantle’s injury-ravaged midfield lined up against Collingwood’s on Friday night, depth and ball-use were the two obvious shortcomings, according to Michael Barlow.

Collingwood midfielders Dane Swan, Scott Pendlebury, Dayne Beams and Dale Thomas feasted on the wounded Fremantle at Patersons Stadium, but the list of damaging Magpie runners went on.

Alan Didak, Ben Johnson, Leon Davis, Alex Fasolo, Andrew Krakouer and Jarryd Blair all carved through Fremantle with their precision skills and hard running.

For the home team, Nick Lower was brave and won 11 clearances, Barlow was steady and had 32 possessions, and Stephen Hill appeared livelier than he has for much of the second half of the season.

However, Fremantle couldn’t match Collingwood’s depth and, when they won the ball, skill execution was a major concern under the fierce defensive pressure the Magpies applied.

“When you see guys like [Alan] Didak, Thomas and Pendlebury get the ball, you can take a lot from that because you can really see the game open up and you realise that when you have it you probably have more time than you think,” Barlow said.

“It’s something we’re trying and trying to get on top of, getting the ball and holding onto it.

“When they get the ball it’s very hard to get it off them, as opposed to us at the moment.

“They’ve got a lot more depth through their midfield at the moment, probably 10-12 guys that can go through the midfield and use the ball as well as a Thomas and a Pendlebury. We don’t have that luxury.”

Barlow said Fremantle couldn’t use excuses for the 80-point loss and the players were bitterly disappointed.

However, the 23-year-old said the effort and desire displayed could not be questioned, particularly the courage shown by Peter Faulks running back with the flight of the ball.

Faulks suffered a broken jaw and fractured cheekbone after taking a knee to the face in a collision with Collingwood ruckman Cameron Wood.

There was a seven-minute delay in play before Pendlebury converted a set shot to give the Magpies an 81-point lead, but from that point on – the 14-minute mark of the third quarter – Fremantle outscored the visitors by one point.

“To see him do something like that, you can’t throw the towel in and give up, which you never would,” Barlow said.

“I think it struck a nerve with a lot of the guys. The desire he showed to put his safety on the line to have a crack is something I took a lot out of and wanted to repay.

“It shows the desire of a guy who was cut by Sydney and he’s having a real go at his second chance in the system.”

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