Barrow bowed out of the Carabao Cup at the hands of Aston Villa despite a battling performance in front of a sell-out crowd at The Dunes Hotel Stadium on Tuesday evening.
The Sky Sports cameras rolled into town along with a host of national press all hoping to see an upset, but it rarely looked on the cards as a Villa side which showed ten changes from the weekend win over Newcastle United turned on the style.
The Bluebirds started with a spring in their step, roared on by an enthusiastic crowd, and Ollie Banks whipped a dangerous freekick across the Villa box which flashed wide at the far post.
However, Dean Smith’s visitors were in front on ten minutes when a sweeping move down the left saw the ball fed low across the six-yard area where Cameron Archer was able to rifle home the opening goal.
Carney Chukwuemeka could have made it 2-0 just after the 20 minutes mark when he showed strength and skill to wriggle away from a couple of challenge, but his low drive was well held by Paul Farman.
A couple of minutes later it was 2-0 though. Josh Gordon clipped the heels of Archer in the area and Anwar El Ghazi chipped a cheeky Panenka penalty down the middle to double Villa’s advantage.
There were appeals for a spot kick at the other end not long afterwards when Offrande Zanzala went down under pressure, but the referee was well positioned and was unmoved.
Former Birmingham City man Remeao Hutton almost helped The Bluebirds reduce the arrears when he did well to find space to cross from the right but Zanzala’s looping header was agonisingly too high.
The game was over as a contest in first half injury time when another decisive move from Villa was finished off El Ghazi who swept home at the far post for 3-0.
Barrow made a spirited start to the second period and could have pulled a goal back when Zanzala teed Banks up on the edge of the box and he cleverly side-stepped into space and drove an effort on goal which keeper Jed Steer did brilliantly to turn away down to his left.
However, just after the hour it was Villa who got their fourth when Archer raced clear on the right side, and he produced a wonderful, clipped finish over Farman as he advanced from his line.
To their credit, Barrow kept going and Patrick Brough had a couple of half chances, first shooting into the side-netting before planting a header just over the bar from a corner.
It was therefore particularly harsh on The Bluebirds when Villa grabbed a fifth goal fifteen minutes from time. Farman did well to save at the feet of Jaden Philogene-Bidace but when the ball fell loose it was rattled home by Frederic Guilbert.
There was even time for Cameron Archer to complete his hat-trick late on, profiting from some brilliant play from Philogene-Bidace, whose incisive pass put it on a plate for his teammate to make it 6-0.
Full Time: Barrow 0 Aston Villa 6
Barrow: Farman, Hutton, Brown, Ellis, Grayson, Brough, Taylor, White (Williams 65), Banks, Gordon (Kay 60), Zanzala.
Subs: Lillis, Moloney, J Jones, Arthur, Ntlhe.
Booked: Arthur, Brough.
Aston Villa: Steer, Targett, Hourihane, Tuanzebe, Nakamba, Guilbert (Lindley 82), Hause, Philogene-Bidace, Carney Chukwemeka (Caleb Chukuemeka 73), El Ghazi (A Ramsey 63) Archer.
Subs: Sinisalo, Bogarde, J Ramsey, Swinkels.
Referee: Martin Coy
Attendance: 5,349 (662 Aston Villa)