Ten-man Barrow were sunk by a stunning goal from Antony Evans as Bristol Rovers snatched all three points late on at The Memorial Stadium on Tuesday night.
Mark Cooper’s men were forced to play an hour a man light after Niall Canavan was shown a straight red card for a professional foul – and it looked for so long as if the defiant Bluebirds would hang on for a point.
However, Evans produced a moment suitable to win any game when he rifled in a 25-yard blockbuster to give Rovers another win as they look to make a charge for the play-offs.
Cooper had opted to make two changes to his starting eleven for the long trip to Bristol; Jason Taylor and Will Harris were both handed starts against The Gas.
On a miserable night, it was Barrow who got on the front foot first when Anthony Glennon’s ball into the penalty area caused problems and it fell kindly for Ollie Banks who drilled a shot on goal which was well blocked by Rovers’ keeper James Belshaw.
The hosts responded with a slick move down the left as Elliot Anderson released Harry Anderson away down the left and he drove in on goal before sliding a low shot on target which Paul Farman did excellently to keep out.
Harry Anderson was looking a threat on the flank, and he came close again on 19 minutes when he moved inside from the left and curled an effort on goal but he just couldn’t generate the whip to bring it back inside Farman’s far post.
Farman was called into action again eight minutes later when Leon Clarke found the space to shot from just inside the box, but the Barrow keeper got down quickly to his left to hold the effort.
There was a key moment on 32 minutes when a long ball was sent over the top towards Clarke who looked to get through on goal before Niall Canavan appeared to tug him back. The referee conferred with his assistant before brandishing a red card for the Bluebirds centre-back.
Rovers looked to make the most of the man advantage and enjoyed plenty of possession during the remainder of the half but found Farman in top form. Elliot Anderson’s cross from the left kissed the bar and fell out to Antony Evans who drilled a low shot on goal from 12 yards only for Farman to drop instantly to his left and claw it away superbly.
Elliot Anderson then got into space again down the left to whip another cross through the penalty area which Farman was once again alert to and pawed clear under pressure.
Joey Barton’s side looked to put some pressure on early in the second half when a right wing corner found Nick Anderton, but his header lacked the power to trouble Farman who gathered comfortably down to his right.
There was a rare moment of attacking threat from The Bluebirds when John Rooney found space on the left and clipped a ball across to Robbie Gotts whose low shot was well held by Belshaw.
Clarke spurned a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock just after the hour mark when Evans’ cross found the front man six yards out but he somehow managed to prod his shot over the bar.
Farman was then called into action again as the game moved into the final 15 minutes when substitute Aaron Collins sent a low drive towards the bottom corner which the Bluebirds keeper did excellently to turn round the post.
The hosts finally found a way through eight minutes from time when Evans decided to hit one from 25 yards and his powerful strike flew into the top corner to give Rovers a 1-0 lead.
Barrow responded by throwing on Matt Platt, and immediately came close from an Ollie Banks free kick which took a wicked deflection and spun just wide of Belshaw’s post.
There was another opening for Cooper’s men on 85 minutes when a long ball over the top was helped on by James Jones to Josh Gordon, but the Bluebirds front man could only shoot straight at the keeper.
Barrow pushed on as injury time arrived and Banks was brilliantly denied by Belshaw when he met Patrick Brough’s low cross to the back post only for the keeper to be well positioned to save.
Platt then caused a problem inside the six-yard area but couldn’t quite force the ball home and then Banks was once again denied by Belshaw from the follow-up as Rovers hung on.
Full Time: Bristol Rovers 1 Barrow 0
Bristol Rovers: Belshaw, Connolly, Clarke (Saunders 79), Nicholson, E Anderson (Loft 71), Anderton (Collins 59), Taylor, H Anderson, Evans, Whelan, Hoole.
Subs: Jaakola, Finley, Collins, Coutts, Nolan.
Booked: Evans, Anderton, Collins.
Barrow: Farman, Taylor, J Jones, Canavan, Brough, Glennon (Platt 84), Banks, White (Gordon 63), Rooney, Gotts, Harris (Hutton 70).
Subs not used: Ntlhe, Williams, Wakeling.
Referee: David Rock
Attendance: 6,685 (88 Barrow)