Barrow AFC 2 Dover Athletic 3

Barrow AFC suffered more home woe after they inexcusably let a two-goal lead slide away in the closing stages against Dover Athletic, for whom Ricky Modeste struck a late winner.

It’s not the first time this season the Bluebirds have failed to see the game out from 2-0 in front, but they hadn’t done so as calamitously as this.

There was just a quarter of the match to play when Lewis Hardcastle’s heavily-deflected goal had given them a buffer between them and the Whites, but it was one they squandered, much to the fury of the majority inside Holker Street.

AFC’s home turf remains one where they have only picked up maximum points three times since October.

Some credit must go to Dover, however, as they are a much-improved side from the down-at-heel side that were easily beaten down in Kent last September and they will be facing Ian Evatt’s side again next season, as this dramatic result secured their safety from relegation.

There was just one change for Barrow from last week’s draw at Dagenham & Redbridge, as Jack Barthram came in for Josh Kay at right-wing back.

Unlike their previous home game, against Boreham Wood, the Bluebirds flew out of the traps and had several early opportunities to take the lead.

The first two came in the third minute when Hardcastle slid the ball through for Jamie Philpot, who was denied by a good save by Dover goalkeeper Lee Worgan, who recovered quickly to stop the rebound as well.

It wasn’t long before he was being tested again as Jack Hindle’s blocked effort fell for Rhys Norrington-Davies, whose powerful strike produced an excellent stop from Worgan.

The visitors struggled to clear their lines, which led to John Rooney scuffing against the post from close range after he had managed to get the ball out of his feet.

The Whites did manage to settle, however, and they really should have gone in front when Inih Effiong beat Joel Dixon to Mitch Brundle’s long ball, but inexplicably delayed when he had an open net in front of him, which allowed Sam Hird to steal the ball.

From the resulting corner, there was a classic goalmouth scramble that eventually led to AFC old boy Effiong being denied from point-blank range by a terrific block from Dixon.

The visitors were now posing a real threat and they missed another good chance as Jai Reason laid the ball off for Alfie Pavey, who shot tamely wide, much to Barrow’s relief.

That turned to jubilation in the 44th minute, as Jason Taylor helped the ball on for Hindle, who laid the ball off for Rooney to whip in a superb first-time shot into the top corner from just outside the area.

Brundle almost equalised from even further out eight minutes into the second half when his strike from 30 yards out flew just over, with Dixon not really close to it.

Hird then had a chance to double AFC’s lead when he found space at the near post from Hardcastle’s corner but could only flick his header across goal and wide.

A huge slice of luck then ensured the Bluebirds were able to put daylight between themselves and Dover when a shot from Hardcastle took a big deflection off Whites defender Kevin Lokko, which left Worgan helpless as the ball went past him.

The lead was halved just seven minutes later, however, as Anthony Jeffrey sped away from Josh Granite down the left before putting the ball across goal for Brundle to slam in at the back post.

Dover then pressed Barrow back in their own half and were rewarded with an equaliser when Jeffrey received the ball from Bobby-Joe Taylor before beating a couple of defenders and shooting into the bottom corner.

Barrow were collapsing, with Dixon lucky to get away with an awful clearance when Jeffrey shot wastefully wide of the near post.

But Dover completed what was a remarkable turnaround in the 89th minute when Taylor’s dangerous free kick begged to be finished and it was, as Modeste nipped in to score from close range.

Barrow AFC (3-1-4-2): Dixon, Hird, Granite, Jones, Taylor, Barthram, Rooney, Hardcastle, Norrington-Davies, Philpot, Hindle

Subs not used: Elsdon, Sloan, Jameson, Molyneux, Reid

Dover Athletic (4-3-1-2): Worgan, Passley (Jeffrey 57), Lokko, Doe, Brundle, Taylor, Nortey, Lewis, Reason (Modeste 79), Effiong, Pavey (Allen 64)

Subs not used: Walker, Daniel

Referee: Simon Mather

Attendance: 1,351