Ten-man Barrow fell to a fourth successive League Two defeat as the country’s top scorer Max Watters struck a hat-trick to help Crawley Town celebrate the return of their supporters with a win.
It could have been so different after goals from Josh Kay and Sam Hird had cancelled out Watters’ first goal to see The Bluebirds lead early in the second half.
However, Watters’ second coupled with a red card for Connor Brown meant it became an uphill task and Tom Nichols’ late penalty put the home side in front before Watters added gloss in injury time.
David Dunn reverted to three at the back for the trip to Sussex, with Hird restored to the centre of the defence and Jason Taylor coming back in to the engine room.
After defending an early Crawley free-kick, Barrow settled in to the game quicker and began to dominate possession in the early stages without engineering too much to trouble home keeper Glenn Morris.
Josh Kay looked particularly dangerous on the ball and he had the first real effort on goal after cutting in from the left but his powerful strike flew way too high.
Scott Quigley was next to try his luck when he turned inside on to a Connor Brown throw-in to hit a speculative left-footed shot which was claimed by Morris.
Midway through the half though, it was Crawley who struck first. A neat combination of passes released top scorer Max Watters through on goal and he confidently slid home his 13th goal of an impressive campaign.
The Bluebirds reacted positively though and were straight on the front foot once more and the lively Jayden Reid struck a shot just over the bar on the spin after good work from Quigley on the left.
Just after the half-hour Brown ghosted past his defender brilliantly and went in to the box where he had his ankles clipped. The referee initially looked to have brought play back for an earlier free-kick but, after consultation with his linesman, he pointed to the spot. Kay saw his penalty saved by the keeper but it ballooned up in the air and the winger was able to get there first to volley home the rebound to level things up.
The Red Devils almost snatched back their lead a couple of minutes later when Watters got space on the right of the area but this time his low drive was well parried away by Joel Dixon.
At the other end, Matty Platt made good contact with a deep delivery from the right but his strong header was directed just wide of the left-hand post.
There was a real intensity to The Bluebirds at the start of the second half and they went in front within five minutes when Kay’s inswinging corner was glanced home at the front post by Sam Hird to give Barrow the lead.
However, Town responded well to the setback and began to put Barrow under pressure once more at the other end and as the hour approached they levelled it. A cross in to the box was met by Tom Nichols and when his header came back off the bar, Watters was in the right place to fire home his second goal.
It got worse for Dunn’s men midway through the second half when Brown went in to a challenge which was deemed worthy of a second yellow card and Barrow were reduced to ten men.
Barrow kept on working and created a wonderful chance to go back in front when substitute Dior Angus flicked the ball on for Quigley but his powerful drive was finger-tipped over the bar.
Nine minutes from time the decisive moment arrived. Town substitute Ashley Nadesan’s eyes lit up as the ball dropped on the edge of the box and Matt Platt lunged in to block the shot only to make contact with the striker and concede a penalty. It was tucked away by Nichols.
Barrow showed some spirit and could have been back on level terms had someone gambled on Angus’ whipped low ball across the edge of the six-yard box.
As it was, the hosts made sure of the points in injury time when Nadesan sprung the offside trap to race clear and set-up Watters who couldn’t miss from close range to complete his hat-trick.
Full Time: Crawley Town 4 Barrow 2
Crawley Town: Morris, Dallison Davies71), Powell, Frost, (Ferguson 63) Nichols, Sesay, Tunnicliffe, Matthews (Nadesan 63), Craig, Watters, Hessenthaler.
Subs not used: Nelson, McNerney, Ashford, Galach.
Booked: Dallison, Frost.
Barrow: Dixon, Brown, Hird, Wilson (Brough 86), Platt, Kay (C Taylor 76), Beadling, J Taylor (Sea 86), Reid (Angus 57), James (Biggins 76), Quigley.
Subs not used: Lillis.
Booked: Brown, Platt.
Referee: Neil Hair