Barrow fell to a defeat on home soil for the first time since December as Cambridge United consolidated their position at the top of League Two with a 2-0 victory in Cumbria.
The division’s top marksman, Paul Mullin fired in The U’s opener towards the end of the first half before his striker partner, Joe Ironside nodded in a second near the end to consign The Bluebirds to defeat.
Michael Jolley opted to make three changes to his line-up as Jamie Devitt and Dion Donohue were both handed full debuts, while Chris Taylor came back into the centre of midfield.
A scrappy start to the game on a tricky playing surface provided little in the way of clear-cut chances early on; Josh Kay came closest on six minutes, but his shot took a deflection which absorbed all the venom and Cambridge keeper Callum Burton gathered comfortably.
Debutant Devitt was looking the liveliest player in Barrow colours and he produced a wonderful turn with his back to goal which provided him with the space to let fly with a powerful drive from twenty yards, but it flashed wide.
The U’s slowly began to warm to their task and showed their teeth for the first time on 21 minutes when clever play from the evergreen Wes Hoolohan teed up Harrison Dunk, but his low drive was well parried away by Joel Dixon down low to his left.
Cambridge continued to improve as the half wore on and they snatched the lead two minutes before the break and it was no surprise to find Hoolohan at the heart of it. The former Republic of Ireland star ghosted into the area from the right and found Paul Mullin and The U’s top scorer found just enough space to drill a low shot in to the bottom right hand corner of the net.
The goal gave the league-leaders a swagger in the closing minutes of the opening period, Adam May launching another shot on goal from distance which was held by Dixon before Mullin fired just over deep into injury time.
Barrow made a double change at the break with Lewis Hardcastle and Dan Bramall introduced and they started the second half on the front foot as Scott Quigley got a shot away which was held by Burton.
However, The Bluebirds soon had some defending to do as Hoolohan continued to pull the strings; Kyle Knoyle burst forward from full-back and fizzed a ball across goal which Joe Ironside threw himself at but could not divert goalwards at the back post.
The U’s continued to ask questions though and there needed to be some desperate defending to block shots from May and Greg Taylor as the visitors looked menacing.
Barrow recovered from composure as the hour-mark passed and Hardcastle came close to levelling when he cut inside from the left and struck a low right-foot shot but it went wide of the near post.
Cambridge remained a threat though and Knoyle got forward well down the right and got the better of Patrick Brough before delivering a low ball in to the path of Mullin but this time he fired his shot too high.
Bramall tried to pull Barrow level ten minutes from time when he ducked inside from the right but his well-struck shot flew off-target.
The U’s made sure of the points six minutes from time though. A corner was played short to Hoolohan, he found Knoyle on the edge of the box and his lofted cross was nodded home by Ironside for 2-0.
Full Time: Barrow 0 Cambridge United 2
Barrow: Dixon, Eardley, Davies, Thomas, Brough, Kay, C Taylor (Beadling 40 (Hardcastle 46)), Donohue, Banks, Devitt (Bramall 46), Quigley (J Jones 90).
Subs not used: Lillis, J Jones.
Cambridge United: Burton, Knoyle, Okedina, Drysdale, Dunk, Hannant (Tracey 80), May (O’Neil 91), Taylor, Hoolahan (Iredale 91), Mullin (Knibbs 86), Ironside.
Subs not used: McKenzie-Lyle, Davies, Alese.
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Attendance: Behind Closed Doors