For the second time in four days, it was a goalless draw and a penalty shoot-out defeat against higher-league opposition for Barrow – this time to Blackpool in the Bluebirds’ first EFL Trophy outing.

David Dunn’s side were good value for the point they picked up at Bloomfield Road, even though the League One side grabbed the additional point on offer by winning 5-3 on spot-kicks.

Chris Maxwell’s save from Connor Brown was the difference in the northern group G shoot-out as Neil Critchley’s side made no mistake from their five penalties.

Until then, it had been another encouraging night from Dunn’s side, who restricted and frustrated Blackpool in the behind-closed-doors tie, with keeper Joel Dixon making a number of good saves in an outing that offered further encouragement ahead of Saturday's League Two opener against Stevenage.

Dunn made eight changes to the team that went valiantly out of the Carabao Cup against Derby, meaning first starts of the season for Jason Taylor, Sam Hird, Callum Gribbin, Morgan Penfold, Scott Wilson, Harrison Biggins, Luke James and Scott Quigley, the latter’s suspension not applying in this competition.

Although Critchley’s hosts had the better first half chances, they were made to work hard to earn them by Dunn’s well-organised troops.

Barrow were keen to spring onto Blackpool with Luke James making a couple of bright early breaks, and it was not until the Seasiders started using the width of the pitch better that they applied more persistent pressure.  

From their first real opportunity, when a cross broke for Ethan Robson, Dixon was equal to the shot with a fine reaction save.

The hosts’ attempts to build attacks around the line-leading of Gary Madine then led to a recurring spell of pressure which saw Grant Ward have a shot deflected clear, Madine fail to reach a cross and Hird block an effort from the overlapping Daniel Kemp.

That summed up Barrow’s doggedness, with Dixon again to the rescue with a scrambling save from a deflected Ethan Robson free-kick, while moments later Ward whistled a volley just wide.

Former Ipswich man Ward was the home side’s main danger with his raids from the middle, and the wholehearted Kgosi Ntlhe did well to hurl himself in the way of the Blackpool man’s shot after Bez Lubala had evaded James Jones.

Barrow, though, ended the opening 45 minutes with a useful spell which saw an inswinging free-kick from Harrison Biggins forcing Maxwell into a stretching save. Wilson stepped in early in the second half to deny Madine after the break and Jordan Williams had a first-time effort blocked before, at the other end, Taylor almost handed James a chance.

Dixon once more then came to Barrow’s aid, sharply keeping out a Lubala finish. Barrow went back in search of an opener through James, who broke the offside line to attack a long Hird ball but was denied by a chasing defender.

Penfold then showed neat footwork as his shot was deflected behind. These glimpses came from a good, compact spell although, after a scrappy spell midway through the second half, Blackpool’s Lubala failed to convert a tempting far-post cross from home sub Keshi Anderson.

The home side remained toothless, and the EFL new boys determinedly took it to spot-kicks, with Quigley, Gribbin and Taylor on target but Maxwell denying their second attempt from substitute Brown, and Jerry Yates, Lubala, Anderson, Ward and Kemp all scoring for Pool.

Blackpool: Maxwell, Howe, Nottingham, Thorniley, Shaw, Robson (Anderson 71), Williams, Ward, Kemp, Lubala, Madine (Yates 90). Not used: Sims, Turton, Ekpiteta, Hamilton.

Barrow: Dixon, J Jones (Brown 46), Ntlhe (Beadling 46), Wilson, Hird, Taylor, Biggins, Penfold, Gribbin, James, Quigley. Not used: M Jones, Hardcastle, Angus, Hindle. Ref: Conor Brown.