Stockport County 3 Barrow AFC 2

Barrow AFC have now allowed half-time leads to evaporate in both of their away games this season as Stockport County turned the match on its head after the break at Edgeley Park.

This was the Hatters’ first win since their return to the National League and in truth they were the sharper team for the majority of the contest as the Bluebirds’ defensive frailties made an unwanted return, with the only difference the opposition not scoring from headers this time.

John Rooney’s superb free kick had hauled them level after two quick Stockport goals soon after half-time had put the hosts in front, but Jim Gannon’s side decided this barnstormer with Adam Thomas’ goal.

‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ was Barrow manager Ian Evatt’s mantra as he named an unchanged squad from last Saturday’s victory against Eastleigh that got his side off the mark this season.

To say it was a lively start would be putting it mildly, but it was almost a disastrous one for Joel Dixon as he fumbled Elliot Osborne’s free kick only to be bailed out by Patrick Brough who cleared Jordan Keane’s header off the line.

Stockport were soon in again as Thomas laid the ball off to put Ben Jackson in the clear, but Dixon quickly redeemed himself by making a very good save.

With still only three minutes played, the Bluebirds went in front as some brilliant footwork in the area by Scott Quigley took him through on goal and he lashed his shot in at the near post.

The hosts had actually begun very well and almost found an equaliser when Connor Dimaio slid a lovely ball through for Jackson, who was denied by another good block by Dixon.

The AFC stopper was being peppered as he pushed away Paul Turnbull’s long-ranger before producing a brilliant one-handed stop to deny Osborne.

The Bluebirds successfully retained their 1-0 advantage into half-time but they will have been wary of their last away game at Wrexham, which they allowed to slip away after also leading there.

However, things fell apart even quicker than they did at the Racecourse Ground as Stockport drew level within three minutes of the restart when Frank Mulhern nipped in to convert Thomas’ low cross.

Mulhern then almost had a second when he bent a low shot from just inside the box that Dixon did well to tip away.

But he had no chance as the Bluebirds fell behind in the 52nd minute as centre back Jordan Keane was allowed to advance before firing a superb shot into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

The Bluebirds were struggling to create openings but they found an equaliser out of nowhere in the 67th minute thanks to a peach of a free kick by Rooney that nestled in the bottom corner.

However, within three minutes they were behind again as Jake Kirby’s low cross from the left found Thomas in too much space and he swept the ball in.

AFC searched for a second leveller, but Stockport ‘keeper Ben Hinchcliffe stood strong to deny Dior Angus and sub Olly Dyson, before Jason Taylor almost snatched a point in the second minute of stoppage time, as his screamer came back off the post.

Stockport County (4-2-3-1): Hinchcliffe, Minihan, Palmer, Keane, Cowan, Turnbull, Osborne, Thomas, Dimaio (Kirby 63), Jackson (Arthur 89), Mulhern (Bell 73).

Subs not used: Ormson, Curran.

Barrow AFC (3-4-3): Dixon, Hird, Granite, Brough (Brown 11), Barry, Rooney, Taylor, Kay (Dyson 59), Angus, Harrison (Hardcastle 45), Quigley.

Subs not used: Hindle, Greaves.

Referee: Rebecca Welch

Attendance: 4,183 (218 away)

Bluebirds star man: John Rooney