Barrow’s fight for League Two survival will head into the final three games of the season after they slipped to defeat at promotion chasing Tranmere Rovers.

David Nugent’s second half header was enough to give the home side the points in their battle for automatic promotion. Barrow’s defeat and a win for Southend United means the Bluebirds’ fight for survival goes on.

Rob Kelly’s men went into the game knowing that if Southend failed to win then their result at Prenton Park would be irrelevant, and they would be safe.

Caretaker boss Rob Kelly made two changes from the side that lost to Port Vale on Tuesday, with Ollie Banks, signed from Tranmere in January, returning in place of Neal Eardley, and Chris Taylor coming in for Jason Taylor.

The first half was scrappy from the off, and both sides were woefully short of any real quality.

The first big chance of the game fell to the Bluebirds’ leading goals corer Scott Quigley, who received the ball in the box, before spinning the defender and firing low into the hands of Rovers’ keeper Joe Murphy.

Tranmere, who had won just once in their previous seven games showed no threat at all in the first half, with Barrow also possessing very little attacking quality in a tight and drab affair.

Kgosi Nlthe did see a long range effort fumbled by Murphy minutes before the break, but no one was on hand to follow up.

The home side then fired out of the traps in the second period and after having a soft penalty claim turned away, they carved out their first clear cut chance.

Peter Clarke found space from a corner and powered a header towards goal, but Bluebirds keeper Joel Dixon threw himself to his right and got a strong hand on it to push it away.

Callum McDonald then flicked a Kaiyne Woolery cross inches wide, with Tranmere starting to turn the screw.

Barrow soaked up the pressure though, and almost struck on the break with 25 minutes remaining but Quigley failed to finish off a sweeping move down the right.

From that chance the home side went down the other end and punished Kelly’s men, with Nugent finding space to head home a Liam Feeney cross from six yards.

The veteran striker went close again soon after and Paul Lewis hit the crossbar with a header, as the home side went in search of that decisive second goal.

Barrow showed little attacking threat in the final minutes of the game, as Keith Hill’s Tranmere were able to see out the contest with relative ease.

The Bluebirds’ defeat and Southend’s victory at Leyton Orient means the buffer between them and Barrow is now down to five points.

However Kelly’s side can secure their place in League Two for next season in midweek, if they win their game in hand against Forest Green Rovers.

If they again fail to win that one, then it comes down to a huge relegation clash against the Shrimpers at Holker Street next Saturday.