Barrow clinched League Two survival as goals from Scott Quigley and Bobby Thomas secured a magnificent victory at promotion-chasing Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday night.
The Bluebirds went into the fixture under enormous pressure and on the back of a run of three straight defeats, but that sequence never looked likely to be extended as Rob Kelly’s men delivered a performance rich on heart and courage.
Both goals came in the first half – the first a penalty from Quigley won by Thomas, the second converted by the young centre-back himself as Barrow pulled off a remarkable result to secure EFL status.
Barrow began the game with real purpose and showed confidence on the ball, Scott Quigley rifling a cross into the near post side netting with less than a minute on the clock.
The Bluebirds’ positive start seemed to take the hosts by surprise and Rob Kelly’s men continued to enjoy their share of possession in a high tempo first ten minutes.
Barrow showed their teeth when Neal Eardley whipped a corner in from the right which found Matt Platt at the far post and his header was turned on goal by Tom Beadling but just about cleared.
However, on 17 minutes The Bluebirds went in front. Bobby Thomas tripped inside the area and Quigley made no mistake from the penalty spot, sending keeper Luke McGee the wrong way.
The confidence among the Barrow ranks increased further on the back of the opening goal and they came close to adding a wonderful second on 23 minutes. Connor Brown drove forward from the right and linked up with Calvin Andrew to tee up Jason Taylor on the edge of the box and his drive forced a fine save from McGee.
However, McGee had no chance a couple of minutes later when Barrow kept the pressure on from a half-cleared corner. Eardley dropped a perfect cross from the left right on to the penalty spot which Andrew turned on and fired low toward goal – McGee got down to parry but Thomas reacted quickest to ram the loose ball into the roof of the net for 2-0.
Rovers improved somewhat as half time approached and created their best chance from a left-wing corner, but Baily Cargill nodded wide at the front post.
Eardley was agonisingly close to giving The Bluebirds a three-goal lead just before the break when his curling free kick from the right corner of the area clipped the outside of the near post on its way wide.
The hosts began the second half with a little more intensity, but Thomas almost doubled his tally for the evening when he got on the end of Eardley’s 52nd minute free kick but his glancing header dropped wide of the far post.
Joel Dixon was called into action just before the hour when Rovers got the ball into the box for Jake Young to fire on goal, but the Bluebirds keeper made a wonderful fingertip save to keep it at 2-0.
Rovers continued to press – a wicked corner into the back post was headed clear well by Platt as it threatened to drop into the net, while moment later the hosts flashed another ball across goal without any joy.
However, the more frantic their efforts to attack got, the more determined Barrow got to defend and they saw the game through to its conclusion and got the job done.
Full Time: Forest Green Rovers 0 Barrow 2
Forest Green Rovers: McGee, Bernard, Stokes (Evans 80), Cargill, Adams (Wilson 64), Collins, Moore-Taylor, Bailey, Young (Hutchinson 80), Wagstaff (Davison 80), Godwin-Malife.
Subs not used: Thomas, Allen, Richardson.
Booked: Cargill, Adams, Stokes, Bernard.
Barrow: Dixon, Brown (Ntlhe 91), Eardley, Barry (Devitt 64), Thomas, Platt, Brough, Beadling, J Taylor, Andrew (James 85), Quigley.
Subs not used: Moloney, C Taylor, Kay.
Referee: Paul Howard
Attendance: Behind Closed Doors