The opening day of the new season ended in defeat for Barrow as Jake Reeves’ emphatic finish just after half time ensured Stevenage collected three points at The Lamex Stadium.
Reeves’ strike came less than thirty seconds after the break and proved the critical moment during a closely fought encounter in Hertfordshire.
Barrow got on the front foot in the opening minutes and had half a shout for a penalty when the hard-working Josh Gordon got in behind the defence and went down under pressure, but referee James Oldham was unmoved.
Cheered on by a vocal away following, The Bluebirds continued to look composed and comfortable in possession as the half progressed, with Josh Kay and Gordon posing a threat at times for the home side.
Jason Taylor and Ollie Banks saw quick-fire yellow card midway through the first period as Stevenage tried to apply some pressure, but they couldn’t muster much in front of goal.
Instead, it was Barrow who registered the first effort on goal when some patient build-up down the right provided Kay with the opportunity to shoot from distance, but his low effort was gathered by keeper Joseph Anang down to his right.
Jake Reeves played a neat one-two with Chris Lines to find space to turn and shoot on goal for Stevenage but his effort from 25 yards flew well wide of Paul Farman’s goal.
There was a half chance for Barrow in stoppage time when a clever pass by Gordon freed Banks down the right, but the midfielder’s cross was cut out at the far post just as an interested Patrick Brough arrived on the scene.
However, the second half got off to the worst possible start as Stevenage took the lead inside 30 seconds. A slick move down the right caught Barrow cold and a low ball into the edge of the six-yard area was slammed home by Reeves.
Cooper’s men mounted a spirited response though and could have been level when a Banks free kick into the box caused chaos, but Taylor’s low drive was blocked and then Brough’s follow-up dropped wide.
The Bluebirds kept on building the pressure and Banks saw a long-range effort repelled by a defender before Kay escaped in behind but could only knock a shot wide of the post.
The introduction of Jamie Devitt and Dimitri Sea just after the hour made a difference for Barrow and they began to look even more of a threat to the Stevenage rear-guard as they searched for an equaliser.
Things began to become a little stretched and that allowed Stevenage the chance to create things at the other end, Elliott List finding space to shoot just inside the area, but Farman pulled off a fantastic save and then reacted quickly to pounce on the loose ball.
Farman was called into action again right at the start of stoppage time when Jamie Reid got a shot away from a tight angle but again the Barrow keeper was equal to it and palmed the ball to safety.
However, The Bluebirds couldn’t find a way through at the other end and Mark Cooper’s first competitive game in charge ended in a loss.
Full Time: Stevenage 1 Barrow 0
Stevenage: Anang, James-Wildin, Coker, Reeves (Marshall 90), Cuthbert, Taylor, Norris (List 67), Osborne (Carter 67), Lines, Vancooten, Reid.
Subs not used: Bastien, Prosser, Smith, Williams.
Booked: Lines, Cuthbert, Vancooten, Taylor.
Barrow: Farman, Hutton, Ellis, Platt (Arthur 46), Ntlhe, Brough, Taylor, Banks, Grayson (Sea 62), Kay (Devitt 62), Gordon.
Subs not used: Moloney, Brown, White, James.
Booked: Taylor, Banks, Platt, Kay, Ntlhe, Devitt.
Referee: James Oldham