Grimsby Town gave their League Two survival hopes a boost with a vital win against relegation rivals Barrow at Holker Street.
A fantastic strike by Luke Spokes proved enough to settle a tight contest and extend the Mariners’ unbeaten run to five games.
The result also cut the gap between the two teams to seven points and gave Town added momentum after four consecutive draws.
Four changes were made to the Grimsby starting line-up after Saturday’s draw at Mansfield, with James Hanson among those coming back in.
Rollin Menayese returned after missing the weekend’s game against his parent club, while Danny Rose and Spokes were also restored to the XI as Luke Waterfall, Ira Jackson Jr, Giles Coke and Julien Lamy missed out.
James McKeown started in goal, with Luke Hendrie, Elliott Hewitt, Menayese and Harry Clifton forming the defence as Rose, Jay Matete and Spokes lined up in midfield and Hanson linked up with Lenell John-Lewis and Stefan Payne in attack.
There was a return to the matchday squad for Kyle Bennett as he made the bench on his comeback from injury and he was joined among the substitutes by Ollie Battersby, George Williams, Lamy, Coke, Jackson and Matt Green.
Barrow came into the game on a four-match winning run which had seen them move 10 points ahead of the Mariners in the battle to stay in League Two.
They would again look to the likes of top scorer Scott Quigley to keep that sequence going and edge further away from trouble at the bottom end of the table.
A foul on Quigley near the halfway line gave the home team an early opportunity to put the ball into the Town penalty area but Neal Eardley’s delivery was cleared.
John-Lewis won a corner at the other end after turning Bobby Thomas and getting away down the right, although the striker could not turn his header from Spokes’ delivery towards goal.
Eardley won Barrow’s first corner on 11 minutes after a great cross-field ball from Oliver Banks but from it, Thomas sent a header wide of McKeown’s target.
A foul on Matete brought a Town free kick on the right three minutes later and Spokes’ ball from it was headed back across goal by Hanson but flicked over the bar by Hewitt.
Menayese fired over the bar after a Hendrie long-throw broke for him inside the Barrow box, before a long throw from Thomas for the hosts was cleared.
John-Lewis missed the target with an effort from 20 yards as Town continued to see more of the ball in attacking areas, before Rose and Jason Taylor were spoken to by the referee after a tangle near the halfway line.
Payne lifted a shot over the bar from just outside the box on 31 minutes, then Town escaped as a low ball across their penalty area was too far behind Quigley for him to make contact and Hewitt cleared.
A foul by Hewitt on Luke James gave Barrow a free kick in a dangerous position on the left edge of the Town box on 39 minutes but Banks’ ball was dealt with as Spokes headed it behind for a corner, which was cleared.
Clifton conceded another corner on the home right but again, it caused no problems as the ball held up in the wind before it could reach Thomas.
One added minute was played at the end of the half and with no further chances, it remained goalless at the break.
No changes were made before the restart and the hosts had the first attack but Quigley could not get on the end of a cross from Eardley.
James won a home corner on the left on 49 minutes but the delivery from the flag was cleared and McKeown remained untroubled.
A foul on Matete gave Town a free kick on the right but Spokes’ ball was cleared, before Quigley fired over the bar from 25 yards after a good Barrow move down the right on 55 minutes.
A cross from Hendrie was cleared as the hosts sat back and invited pressure from the Mariners, before John-Lewis was shown the first yellow card just after the hour-mark for a foul.
Town won a corner on the left on 64 minutes but home keeper Joel Dixon was first to the ball from the flag and pushed it away from goal.
Tom Beadling came on for Banks as Barrow made the first substitution of the night, before a home long throw into the box came off John-Lewis but did not quite fall for James Jones and the Mariners escaped.
The deadlock was finally broken on 71 minutes and it was Town who took the lead. A throw-in from Hendrie broke for John-Lewis and he touched it back for SPOKES, who found the top corner of the net with a brilliant strike from 20 yards.
Barrow’s response saw Chris Taylor miss the target with an effort from the edge of the box, before a foul by Hendrie on Brad Barry gave them a free kick on the left edge of the Town penalty area.
Chris Taylor’s low ball was put out for a corner, which was spilt by McKeown but went out for another flag-kick and the pressure continued with a third consecutive corner although this time, the ball was cleared.
Jason Taylor was replaced by former Town loanee Jamie Devitt and Patrick Brough came on for Eardley with 12 minutes to go, while Coke replaced Rose in the Grimsby midfield at the same time.
A shot by Quigley from a narrow angle appeared to be tipped over the bar by McKeown for a corner but a goal kick was given, relieving the pressure.
Jones was replaced on 87 minutes by Calvin Andrew, another former Mariners loanee who signed a short-term deal with Barrow earlier in the day.
A shot by Beadling was blocked as the hosts continued to press for an equaliser, before Green came on for Town in place of Payne for the last minute and the four added minutes which were signalled by the fourth official.
A low effort by Quigley was comfortably held by McKeown, before another chance for the hosts was not taken as Town got men back to block a shot.
That proved to be the last chance for Barrow to take anything from the game as Town held on for three priceless points.
The Mariners are next in action on Saturday, when Walsall are the visitors to Blundell Park.
1 Joel Dixon
31 Bobby Thomas
22 Tom Davies
14 James Jones
29 Neal Eardley
27 Bradley Barry
42 Oliver Banks
28 Chris Taylor
4 Jason Taylor (C)
33 Luke James
9 Scott Quigley
12 Josh Lillis
3 Patrick Brough
16 Tom Beadling
36 Jamie Devitt
39 Calvin Andrew
26 Dimitri Sea
1 James McKeown
2 Luke Hendrie
15 Harry Clifton
22 Elliott Hewitt
26 Rollin Menayese
20 Jay Matete
4 Danny Rose
14 Luke Spokes
9 James Hanson
21 Lenell John-Lewis (C)
40 Stefan Payne
13 Ollie Battersby
37 Kyle Bennett
8 Giles Coke
10 George Williams
7 Matt Green
16 Ira Jackson Jr
42 Julien Lamy
Referee: Ben Speedie
Next Up: Walsall (H)