BARROW AFC’s automatic promotion chances suffered a brutal blow as they lost 2-1 in the derby at Morecambe.

Boss Pete Wild stressed the importance of the fixture after the 3-1 victory over Grimsby on Good Friday.

But the Bluebirds failed to make it the perfect Easter weekend as they slipped to a first defeat in seven. 

With promotion rivals Wrexham not playing Doncaster until tomorrow night, Barrow remained six points off third with six games left.

Wild made a solitary swap as Luca Stephenson replaced the injured Tyrell Warren on the right-hand side.

And after losing the reverse fixture, Morecambe got bragging rights back as Gerard Brannan’s side made it back-to-back wins over the Bank Holiday weekend.

The Bluebirds suffered a horror start as they conceded twice inside the first 11 minutes.

Wild’s visitors came unstuck inside the first three minutes as they failed to clear Charlie Brown’s in-swinging corner with David Tutonda opening the scoring with a deft back heel. 

And if that did not deflate the visiting faithful, the second just eight minutes later sucked the life out of the away end.

James Chester was caught in possession by Edwards, who rounded stopper Paul Farman and slotted into an empty net.

In-form striker Cole Stockton came closest to getting Barrow back into the contest when his shot was kept out by a brilliant Archie Mair save with his feet in the Morecambe net.

Edwards could have killed the game off on the half-hour mark as he glanced a header wide at the back post.

The visitors had another decent chance before half-time as Stockton found Kian Spence, whose effort was deflected over the bar.

Wild made a half-time switch as striker Dom Telford was brought off for Elliot Newby.

The visitors huffed and puffed in the second half as they tried to force their way back into the game. 

Barrow bombarded the Shrimps’ with balls into the box, but the hosts looked solid at the back.

Rory Feely could only fire wide after he got on the end of Dean Campbell’s fine cross at the back post.

Robbie Gotts also failed to hit the target after he was found by a George Ray ball.

With 20 minutes to go, Stockton turned his man on the edge of the box before hitting his effort over the bar.

Wild made one last roll of the dice with a double substitution as Emile Acquah and David Worrall were introduced into the action with 15 minutes to go.

Whitfield gave the visitors a late glimmer of hope as he fired in the rebound from Newby’s strike towards goal.

But it proved too little too late as the hosts held out for all three points.

The Bluebirds are back at Holker Street on Saturday, where they are five games unbeaten, to host Swindon before Bradford come to town next Tuesday night.