BARROW AFC 3 (Hall 15, Makoma 62, Walters 79) EASTLEIGH 2 (Zebroski 60, Williamson 90)

AFTER 164 days, when they needed it most and in some style, Barrow AFC won at Holker Street.

Scoring three goals at home for the first time since that almost-fabled 3-1 triumph over Aldershot in October, the Bluebirds showed grit and passion.

Of course there were nerves but in the end the three points were Barrow’s and their survival bid lives on.

Asa Hall, Donovan Makoma and Lewis Walters were the men to score the goals, and how vital they may well be come the end of the season.

Manager Ady Pennock was forced into three changes to the team, with Calum Macdonald (groin) and Jordan White (who needed stitches following a clash of heads with Moussa Diarra) both injured at Leyton Orient and Dan Jones suspended following a red card in the same game.

In came Tony Diagne for Macdonald in defence, with Hall replacing Jones and Walters stepping in for White.

There was almost an immediate goal from the home side.

With less than 15 seconds on the clock, a fast attack from kick-off saw Luke James picked out on the edge of the area. He turned his man and got into position to shoot across goal, beyond the dive of Graham Stack but just to the wrong side of the far post.

The striker turned another effort into the hands of Stack from a Walters’ cross minutes later in a positive start for the Bluebirds.

The openings kept coming – Luke James seeming to be held back as he ran through on goal, not seen by referee Joe Johnson; Walters making a mazy run through the defence, but seeing his shot deflected wide; and Nathan Waterston getting his head on a Walters corner, but seeing his effort hit a team-mate and go wide.

More pressure came, Bedsente Gomis drawing Stack to the edge of the area and winning the ball before feeding Walters. He had the keeper off his line, but his on-target effort was deflected just over by the outstretched leg of Spitfires captain Ryan Cresswell.

There was a worry. After all this pressure, would there be a goal, or would the visitors – without a single effort – hit Barrow with a sucker punch?

It was the former, as Walters floated in another perfect cross to the head of Hall, near the penalty spot. The skipper stooped and met it with power and direction, redirecting its path towards the bottom corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.

That is a score all too familiar to anyone on the Holker Street terraces this season, the question now became if Barrow could hold on or build on their advantage?

There were nervous moments as Eastleigh finally found their attacking feet, with Diagne heading a Sam Mathews effort well over his own bar, before the same defender got in the way as Chris Zebroski cut inside from the right.

The game was more even now, AFC attacking well but the supporters nervous whenever the Spitfires went on the counter.

The best chances still came the way of the home side, with Luke James set up once more by Walters, this time on the right, and dragging an effort across goal and just wide.

Steve Arnold was finally called into action to save a Mark Yeats free-kick that was heading for the top corner, grasping it well with both hands as he ran across goal, and then diving at the feet of Zebroski to take the ball as he ran into the area.

There was a nervous moment for the AFC keeper just after, as he skewed a clearance kick to Sam Mathews, who should have done better than curl an effort well over the bar.

The half ended with Hall going for the spectacular, as he controlled the ball well midway inside the Eastleigh half but saw his effort a long way from the target.

There was a nervous start to the second half for Barrow, as only a late Donovan Makoma challenge prevented a shot on goal from inside the box, with Arnold able to gather.

Mathews flashed over from distance and AFC lost Gomis to injury following a collision with Stack when both went for the same ball, and then the ball was in the back of the net for the visitors, but the linesman’s flag was up for a foul.

The inevitable eventually happened as Zebroski was played through on goal, and took the ball around Arnold before slotting into the far corner to bring Eastleigh level.

It sucked the air out of Holker Street, but the response was remarkable.

Walters was played through and had a shot well saved by Stack, but the ball came out to Makoma just outside the area. The young Frenchman saw his chance and scythed an effort into the bottom corner to the delight of everyone in the ground.

Cresswell and Stack collided in the scramble and both had to go off, presenting Barrow with a great chance to claim the spoils.

At the other end, Makoma made two strong, incisive challenges in quick succession, then showed his passing skills with a ball through the middle just too firm for Waterston.

Shouts for a penalty for Barrow after a Walters shot seemed to be blocked by a hand were turned away as a valuable third goal was being sought.

It came as Waterston made a fast break down the left and into the area, past his man before unleashing a shot past reserve keeper Ross Flitney that thudded against the foot of the far post. It came out to Walters, who composed himself and fired into the middle of the net – having struggled for so long to score more than one at home, now they could not stop.

If only they were as strong at the back.

Instead, just before the start of eight minutes of injury time, Mark Yeats played in Ben Williamson behind the defence and he had the easy task of slotting past Arnold to cut the margin to one.

It was in the last of those minutes that Eastleigh hit the post and then the bar – the first from a Yeats shot, the second from a header from Flitney as he strived for an equaliser. But somehow, Barrow held on and took the win.

Match facts

Barrow AFC: Steve Arnold 7, Tony Diagne 7, Ollie Cook 7, Moussa Diarra 7, Donovan Makoma 8, Asa Hall 8, Kingsley James 8, Bedsente Gomis 8 (David Fitzpatrick 57, 7), Nathan Waterston 8, Luke James 8, Lewis Walters 9 (Bradley Bauress 85).

Substitutes Not Used: Thierry Audel, Harry Panayiotou, Jack Barthram.

Yellow Cards: Watserston (59), Cook (74).

Eastleigh: Graham Stack (Ross Flitney 66), Gavin Hoyte, Sam Togwell (Ben Williamson 72), Ryan Cresswell (Michael Green 64), Sam Wood, Paul McCallum, Mark Yeats, Chris Zebroski, Ryan Broom, Cavaghn Miley, Sam Matthews.

Substitutes Not Used: Danny Hollands, Ollie Dennett.

Yellow Cards: Zebroski (24).

Referee: Joe Johnson.

Attendance: 817 (32 from Eastleigh).

Star man: Lewis Walters – a danger all over the field in attack.