Barrow’s three-game unbeaten run was brought to an end as Exeter City clinched promotion to League One with victory over The Bluebirds at St James Park on Tuesday night.
Phil Brown’s men made their hosts work for it after snatching a shock lead early on in Devon through an own goal, but City came back to win with skipper Matt Jay hitting the net with the crucial goal 11 minutes from time.
The atmosphere reached fever pitch by kick-off with an expectant near-capacity crowd turning up the volume for Exeter City and an admirable number of Barrow fans adding to the noise.
However, there appeared to be a few nerves for players in red and white early on as, despite enjoying the best of the possession, they struggled to really hurt Barrow in the opening minutes.
Indeed, The Bluebirds capitalised on that tension to sneak in front on 11 minutes. A long throw-in from Remeao Hutton on the left bounced awkwardly over keeper Cameron Dawson, struck the far post and then deflected into the net as the City stopper scrambled across his line.
It could even have been 2-0 on the quarter-hour mark when a slick move released Hutton down the right, and he attempted to pick out George Williams with the pull-back, but his pass intercepted as the Barrow man wound up to shoot.
The Grecians showed signs of finding their composure when a dangerous ball into the far post was met by Timothee Dieng only for his looping header to take a deflection on its way over the bar.
Matt Jay hit an effort straight at Paul Farman before the home side produced the best football of the half when Jevani Brown received the ball with his back to goal and cleverly backheeled it into the path of the arriving Kieran Phillips, but his powerful drive glanced the top of the bar.
City finally got back on level terms on 35 minutes when Phillips found space to run towards the right edge of the area and unleash a low shot across goal which took a big deflection to wrongfoot Farman and then sneak in at the near post.
The hosts came out with fire in their bellies at the start of the second half, but Barrow continued to defend with determination and could even have gone in front when John Rooney’s clever free kick found Robbie Gotts on the right, but his testing delivery was pounced upon by Dawson.
Just after the hour, Jay had a go from long range, but his shot was never testing Farman and 30 seconds later The Bluebirds could have scored when Hutton got through on goal, but Dawson saved brilliantly with his feet.
With 11 minutes remaining City hit the front. A ball in from the right skipped right through the area and found Jay and the Exeter skipper took a touch to steady himself before rifling a low drive under Farman to make it 2-1.
The Bluebirds responded with a neat move down the left flank which saw Gotts drive infield with the ball before trying his luck with a dipping effort which just didn’t drop enough to trouble Dawson.
Full Time: Exeter City 2 Barrow 1
Exeter City: Dawson, Sparkes, Stubbs, Jay (Rowe 89), Collins, Phillips (Nombe 72), Key, Dieng, J Brown, Sweeney, Diabate (Grounds 72).
Subs not used: S Brown, Caprice, Amond, Coley.
Barrow: Farman, Brown (Sea 88), Platt, Canavan, Brough, Hutton, White (Banks 81), Gotts, Rooney, Williams (James 72), Gordon.
Subs not used: Lillis, J Jones, Grayson.
Attendance: 7,860 (88 Barrow)