Barrow’s three-game unbeaten run was brought to an end at Roots Hall on Saturday as ten-man Southend United held on to claim all three points and their fourth consecutive home win.
The Shrimpers moved within one point of The Bluebirds as Reeco Hackett-Fairchild celebrated his debut by sending home what proved to be the decisive goal with only three minutes on the clock.
Michael Jolley chose to make one change to his line-up, with Chris Taylor returning in the centre of midfield in place of Harrison Biggins who was serving a one-game suspension.
The game got off to a shocking start for Barrow when debutant Hackett-Fairchild was allowed the space to drift inside from the right and he planted a curling low shot beyond the despairing dive of Joel Dixon and in to the bottom corner of the net.
It took The Bluebirds a little time to recover from the setback as the encounter developed in to a bit of a scrappy affair with neither side really creating much in front of goal in the opening quarter-hour.
Luke James brought Barrow to life with a determined run inside from the left and his dipping shot looked destined for the top corner only for Southend keeper Mark Oxley to produce a great save to tip it over the bar.
There were big shouts for a penalty from the resultant corner when Matt Platt peeled off in to space at the far post and his downward header seemed to bounce up against the arm of John White but the referee wasn’t interested.
Joel Dixon hadn’t been particularly busy but he had to be alert to come off his line and save well at the feet of Elvis Bwomono after Southend had superbly crafted a chance for the full-back to run through on goal.
James had another half chance when he found space to get off a low shot which was well saved by Oxley, while Jason Demetriou hit a speculative volley from a half-cleared corner straight at Dixon as the half came to a close.
The Shrimpers began the second half with a greater purpose and put Barrow under pressure, Hackett-Fairchild again causing problems coming inside from the right but this time his shot flew way too high to trouble Dixon.
However, their momentum was disturbed on 52 minutes when Greg Halford went in late on Scott Quigley and the referee had no option but to show the Southend men a second yellow card and reduce the hosts to ten men.
Despite being reduced in numbers, Southend produced some slick football to release James Olayinka through on goal but he delayed his shot to allow Connor Brown to hold him up and then Simeon Akinola fired the loose ball well over the bar.
As time wore on, Jolley gambled more and introduced Dior Angus from the bench. The forward had a decent chance when he got on the end of Patrick Brough’s lofted cross from the left but he could only nod an effort over the bar.
Shrimpers substitute Ashley Nathaniel-George then almost set up a second goal for the hosts when he slalomed his way through the Barrow defence to tee up Alan McCormack but he could only stab an effort over the top from close range.
Full Time: Southend United 1 Barrow 0
Southend United: Oxley, Bwomono, Hobson, Olayinka (Taylor 81), Dieng, Akinola (Nathaniel-George 81), Hackett-Fairchild (McCormack 61), Halford, Demetriou, Hart, White.
Subs not used: Seaden, Howard, Acquah, Nathaniel-George, Taylor, Walsh.
Booked: Halford, Oxley.
Barrow: Dixon, Brown (Angus 72), Hird (J Jones 60), Platt, Brough, Kay, Hardcastle, C Taylor, Beadling, Quigley, James.
Subs not used: Lillis, Zouma, Wilson, J Taylor.
Booked: Hird, Kay.
Referee: Christopher Pollard
Attendance: Behind Closed Doors