Barrow 0
Salford City 2

Ash Hunter ensured a bad case of déjà vu for the Bluebirds, shooting Salford to victory at Holker Street for a second successive season.

Hunter, who sealed three points for the Ammies in December 2020, took successful aim with a second-half free kick to repeat his match winning feat.

To pile on the agony Remeao Hutton netted an injury time own goal to ensure boos at referee Andy Haines’ final whistle.

Barrow’s second home defeat in four days leaves Mark Cooper’s side fourth bottom in Sky bet League Two, albeit with a seven-point cushion on Scunthorpe in 23rd position.

Despite strong condemnation after last Saturday’s defeat to Mansfield, Cooper kept faith with his key defenders, opting for a line-up including Hutton, Jones, Platt and Brough.

However, it is a rearguard that must do without Mark Ellis, at least for the rest of the season. The much-travelled centre half, who last featured for AFC in the 2-1 home defeat by Bradford, has joined Solihull Moors on loan.

And Ellis was immediately pressed into service for the National League outfit’s trip to Torquay.

Salford’s couple of early corners were early tests, comfortably passed, of that collective solidarity.

The visitors arrived with only one win from their three previous games, including a 3-0 home defeat by managerless Colchester.

Slowly growing into the contest, the Bluebirds fashioned the best chance after 17 minutes. Hutton was twice involved including a final shot on goal blocked by Jordan Turnbull.

Salford responded and recent signing, Matt Smith, headed narrowly wide after 31 minutes. Hunter, who scored the winner in last season’s clash at Holker Street, also tried his luck from the edge of the box but Paul Farman remained untroubled.

Six minutes from half-time, Barrow gained their first corner but Jason Lowe’s header cleared any potential threat.

Farman’s firm punch on a stoppage time corner-Salford’s fifth of the opening period- ensured parity at half-time.

It was all very tame though after the incident-charged first half of three goals, sending-off and flurry of bookings.

The second half started much more promisingly. Ex-Rochdale midfielder Matty Lund fluffed his lines when presented with a shooting chance by Donald Love.

Jordan Turnbull’s booking presented Ollie Banks with a 35-yard free kick the Barrow skipper thumped goalwards.

He was denied a spectacular 11th of the season only by Tom King’s fingertips.

Matty Platt collected a 58th minute booking for a foul on Lund which could easily have been red. However, the extra punishment was Hunter’s goal – his first goal since last April – a raking 20-yard free kick that crept into the bottom corner.

Stevens’ game ending injury left Salford defending several corners with 10-men before re-enforcements could be introduced. And it needed Farman’s acrobatics to keep out Ryan Watson’s sweetl- struck effort.

Barrow brought on Jacob Wakeling, Luke James and Jamie Devitt for the final 23 minutes and enjoyed plenty of possession in the visitors’ half. But Salford sub Stephen Kelly nearly added another goal before Hutton slid in to poke the ball past his own keeper.