Barrow were beaten by Colchester United as the first taste of Friday night football produced a rollercoaster encounter at The Dunes Hotel Stadium.
Mark Cooper selected an unchanged starting eleven and things looked on course for another good night when Jordan Stevens scored midway through the first half.
However, The U’s hit back to lead at the break following goals from Alan Judge and Freddie Sears only for Ollie Banks to slot home a second half penalty after the visitors had been reduced to ten men through Luke Chambers’ sending-off.
The Essex outfit looked like having to hang on after Banks’ 76th-minute spot kick but Tom Eastman nodded a winner ten minutes from time and The Bluebirds also finished the contest a man down following James Jones’ second yellow card.
The game began at a good tempo and in-form Ollie Banks was first to have an effort on goal but his steered drive went just too high following good work from The Bluebirds on the right.
Jordan Stevens was looking full of energy on his home debut, and he showed great confidence to let fly from 25 yards after being given some time on the ball, but he dragged his shot wide.
Some typically tenacious work from Josh Gordon saw him pester a defender out of possession to tee up Offrande Zanzala but his ferocious strike flashed wide of the upright.
Robbie Gotts then sent a searching cross into the box from the left which found Zanzala, who cleverly chested it down in front of Gordon but he shot too high.
The pressure told on 25 minutes when a short back pass from a Colchester defender was seized upon by Stevens and he rammed home his first goal for the Club from close range to make it 1-0.
Mark Cooper’s men looked comfortable at that stage, but things began to unravel ten minutes before the break. A lightning-fast counterattack down the right saw Freddie Sears scamped on to the ball and deliver a low cross right into the path of Alan Judge in the middle and he tapped home the visitors’ equaliser.
It went from bad to worse three minutes later. This time it was the Barrow defence’s turn to show some hesitation, but Sears was alert to the opportunity and nipped in quickly to knock the ball beyond Paul Farman and make it 2-1.
Barrow tried to build some momentum at the start of the second half and Stevens’ early cross from the right caused problems in the Colchester area as Patrick Brough kept it alive at the far post but Zanzala couldn’t force the loose ball home.
Banks’ influence on the game was growing and he clipped a lovely cross on to the head of Zanzala but his effort from close range dropped straight into the hands of keeper Shamal George.
Midfield star Banks then launched an outrageous ball over the top into Zanzala’s path and this time the front man took a touch before seeing a low shot blocked. The ball popped out loose for Brough whose prodded effort was cleared off the line and then Gordon lashed an effort over as Colchester somehow survived.
There was another twist midway through the second half as Luke Chambers ill-advisedly lunged at Zanzala and the referee had no option but to show the Colchester man a second yellow card and reduce them to ten men.
The Bluebirds almost made their advantage pay immediately as Brough’s cross from the left was brilliantly plucked out of the way by Gotts on the edge of the area and he then sent a curling effort on goal which was brilliantly clawed away by keeper George.
The U’s were creaking and the pressure became too much when Stevens drove into the area from the right before being hacked down from behind. The referee was well placed to point to the penalty spot and Banks rammed home his fourth goal in four games from twelve yards to level the game up at 2-2 with 14 minutes remaining.
Just as it looked set-up for Barrow to lay siege to the Colchester goal in search of a winner, The U’s snatched a third goal to retake the lead. A ball was sent into the box from the left where substitute Tom Eastman sent a header across goal and into the far corner of the net for 3-2.
Josh Kay came off the bench too add a spark and he could have levelled when he cut inside dangerously from the left, but he couldn’t get enough bend on his shot and flashed past the far post.
The numbers were levelled right on the stroke of 90 minutes when James Jones stretched to foul Nouble and the referee had no option but to show the defender his second yellow card and Barrow were also down to ten for injury time.
The Bluebirds threw everything at their visitors during seven minutes added on – including sending Paul Farman up for a corner – but Colchester held on to take all three points on their long journey back to Essex.
Full Time: Barrow 2 Colchester United 3
Barrow: Farman, Hutton, J Jones, Taylor (Sea 72), Grayson, Brough, Gotts, Banks, Stevens, Gordon (Kay 83), Zanzala.
Subs: Moloney, Lillis, Arthur, White.
Booked: J Jones, Banks.
Sent-off: J Jones.
Colchester United: George, Chambers, Smith, Wiredu, Hannant (Chilvers 76), Skuse, Nouble, Judge (Eastman 66), Sears (Tchamadeu 87), Daniels, Coxe.
Subs not used: Turner, Jasper, Dobra, Kennedy.
Booked: Chambers, Wiredu, Hannant, Coxe, Nouble, Skuse.