Tom Beadling came off the bench to fire an equaliser three minutes from time as Barrow earned another precious point in a 1-1 draw at Colchester United on Easter Monday.
The midfielder stroked home a lovely finish as time rolled away from The Bluebirds, who looked set to fall to defeat after Callum Harriott’s first half drive put The U’s in the driving seat.
However, Barrow’s habit of snatching late goals came up trumps again and the result means they keep themselves above Colchester in the League Two table.
In a scrappy encounter, Barrow had the first sight of goal as the ball fell kindly for Scott Quigley on the edge of the Colchester box but his effort under pressure dropped wide of the post.
The Bluebirds looked the more likely in the opening stages but the hosts grew in stature as the half developed and began to look dangerous going forward.
A couple of corners penned Barrow inside their own penalty area and Colchester did eventually force the ball home, but it was clearly headed out of Joel Dixon’s hands and the referee was well placed to award a free kick.
Kelly’s men came close to snatching the lead as the half hour approached. Jason Taylor bullied his way into possession on the halfway line and then showed great vision to release Quigley who did well to find a yard for a shot but flashed his effort across goal and wide.
The U’s then got their noses in front on 33 minutes when Barrow failed to fully clear a ball in from the right and it fell to the dangerous Callum Harriott who rifled a clinical finish into the bottom right corner of the net.
It should have been 2-0 almost immediately. Front man Frank Nouble found space on the right side of the area and, when Dixon could only parry his low drive, Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu had the goal gaping but somehow stumbled into the loose ball and his hesitation allowed Barrow to gratefully clear it behind.
Barrow suffered a further blow just before the break when Patrick Brough stayed down after an aerial collision and, after a period of treatment, was forced to come off and Josh Kay came on in his place.
The Bluebirds came out strongly at the start of the second half and began pushing their hosts on to the back foot, probing for an opening against a determined Colchester defence.
However, clear cut chances were at a premium and Kelly shuffled his pack with a triple change on the hour with Chris Taylor, Tom Beadling and Neal Eardley all drafted in.
There was a huge chance for Beadling to make an impact too when he was fed in on the right of the box by Quigley but the midfielder’s shot went just the wrong side of the far post as Colchester survived.
Nouble could have made the three points safe for Colchester on 77 minutes when he got away on the left of the penalty area, but he fired wastefully wide with his left foot.
The leveller arrived on 87 minutes as Eardley played the ball forward for substitute Calvin Andrew, who won his header well to find James who cushioned a touch into the path of Beadling to place home a wonderful finish into the bottom right corner.
Kelly’s side looked the more likely winner in the time that remained but could not find a route through and had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Full Time: Colchester United 1 Barrow 1
Colchester United: Gerken, Welch-Hayes, Smith, Senior (Tchamadeu 83), Pell, Brown (Lapslie 68), Harriott, Eastman, Clampin, Sarpong-Wiredu, Nouble.
Subs not used: George, Doherty, Chilvers, Stevenson, Folivi.
Barrow: Dixon, J Jones, Thomas, Ntlhe (Andrew 75), Barry, Brough (Kay 42), Banks (Beadling 60), J Taylor (C Taylor 60), Devitt (Eardley 60), Quigley, James.
Subs not used: Moloney.
Booked: C Taylor.
Referee: John Busby
Attendance: Behind Closed Doors