Mansfield Town made it a hat-trick of wins at Holker Street in 2022 as Nigel Clough’s men advanced into the second round of the Emirates FA Cup.
Stags had already beaten the Bluebirds on their own patch in January and October – both in Sky Bet League Two – and the amber and blue left Cumbria with another victory this afternoon courtesy of Oli Hawkins’ first half strike.
Typically in battles between these two, the win was well-fought and hard-earned as Barrow and Mansfield scrapped it out in a real tug of war cup tie at a rain-soaked Holker Street.
In the league, Barrow and Mansfield sit in fourth and ninth place, respectively, and this contest reflected an equally close encounter.
Defender James Perch, midfielder Anthony Hartigan and forward Lucas Akins were drafted into the starting XI.
Centre-back John-Joe O’Toole and frontman Will Swan were moved to the subs’ bench, while midfielder Hiram Boateng was suspended.
Barrow started with attacking intent and Stags’ goalkeeper Christy Pym was called upon as early as the second minute to push behind Billy Waters’ left-footed drive.
Two minutes later, Elliott Hewitt saw his crashing effort sail wide from 25 yards in Mansfield’s first charge at the Barrow goal.
Stags began to assert their dominance on the tie though it was the hosts who carved the game’s next chance when Josh Kay rifled at Pym from the edge of the box.
The contest entered a lengthy spell where midfields were on top before Barrow failed to make the most of a half chance in the 26th minute.
The Bluebirds directed a free kick into the Stags box though David Moyo couldn’t get the ball under control and Elliott Hewitt was allowed to clear.
Within a heartbeat, Nigel Clough’s men looked to hit Barrow on the counter surge.
Hartigan sent a delicious pass to the advancing Stephen Quinn, who roamed forwards before squaring to Lucas Akins. But the Mansfield forward was unable to keep his effort down and the Bluebirds were let off the hook.
Pym came to Stags rescue with an excellent stop in the 33rd minute.
Oli Hawkins did well initially to win the ball on the left of his area, but lost possession to allow Barrow a cross to the back stick.
And Josh Kay, unmarked at point blank range, headed goalwards only to find Pym well-positioned to deny with his legs.
Hartigan was the first name in the referee’s notebook for a foul on Tom White in the 36th minute and then, three minutes later, Hawkins stabbed Stags ahead.
George Maris drifted in a free kick from the right-hand side and after Barrow failed to clear Hawkins’ initial header, the Stags’ forward-cum-defender was able to stab his effort beyond a crowd of players to give Mansfield the advantage.
The ex-Ipswich man had to execute the shot still on the ground, which made the goal ever more impressive.
Stags made a double change at the break, with Ollie Clarke and Kieran Wallace replacing Stephen Quinn and Anthony Hartigan.
Within three minutes of the restart, Josh Kay, Barrow’s chief tormenter in the first half, used his skill to twist and turn on the left side but no one could meet his dangerous cross which flashed beyond the Mansfield goal area.
At the other end, Paul Farman comfortably gathered Ollie Clarke’s strike from outside the box.
Stags upped the gears and Akins showed fine strength to turn inside the box and slip to Lapslie, who fired into the side netting under pressure from a Barrow marker.
On 57 minutes, Hawkins stood strong to block Kay’s attempt and prevent Pym from being called upon.
Mansfield were then unable to capitalise on a counter attack from the halfway line.
Lapslie burst forward with a sea of space ahead of him, but his uncertain pass did little to help Lucas Akins, who was well-tackled on the cusp of the box.
Kellan Gordon made way for Jordan Bowery with 64 minutes on the clock and in the same stoppage, Barrow made a treble change.
Farman pushed away a long-range strike from Maris before Barrow missed a golden chance.
Tyrell Warren swept a hazardous ball deep into the box and somehow Barrow smashed over when it looked easier to score.
With 12 minutes of normal time remaining, Stephen McLaughlin was replaced by John-Joe O’Toole.
After being shown a yellow card, Perch was soon withdrawn for Riley Harbottle.
It was backs to the wall stuff for Mansfield in the last ten minutes as Barrow set up camp in the Stags’ half.
Pym twice punched clear as the hosts bombarded the visiting box, but after six minutes of stoppage time, Mansfield held on to book their place in round two.
BARROW: Farman, Warren, Ray (Bennett 74), Canavan, Kenlock (Brough 63), White (Foley 63), Neal, Gordon, Waters (Whitfield 63), Kay, Moyo
UNUSED SUBS: Lillis, Brown, Taylor, Nwabuokei, Smales-Braithwaite
STAGS: Pym, Gordon (Bowery 64), Hewitt, Hawkins, Perch (Harbottle 84), McLaughlin (O’Toole 78), Maris, Hartigan (Wallace H/T, Quinn (Clarke H/T), Lapslie, Akins
UNUSED SUBS: Flinders, Law, Gale, Swan
REFEREE: Andy Haines
ATTENDANCE: 2,501 (235 Stags’ fans)