HALF-TIME: Barrow 1-2 Mansfield Town

Mansfield Town were on course to continue their current good run as they led 2-1 at Barrow at half-time this afternoon.

But the Stags were given their biggest examination in five games by a lively Bluebirds side as Paul Cox’s men looked for a fifth win on the trot.

Matt Green’s sixth goal of the season gave Mansfield a great start after just four minutes.

But Barrow piled on the pressure and Louis Almond’s 26th minute equaliser was deserved for the player and his team.

However, within three minutes Ben Futcher nodded home his first goal for the club from a corner to restore Stags’ slender advantage.

After heavy overnight rain and morning showers, the game kicked-off in sunshine.

Murray was felled in Stags’ opening raid, Briscoe drilling an ambitious 35 yard free kick well over the bar.

But Green continued his superb scoring run with the opener after just four minutes.

Murray dinked an inviting ball into Green’s path in the box and, the control he showed on his chest with his first touch set him up perfectly to crash an unstoppable half-volley past a helpless Hurst.

Barrow hit back with a corner which Marriott, wearing a striking pink outfit, came for and collected.

Smith was well wide from 40 yards as the Bluebirds sought a route back into the game.

Green again looked menacing as he ran into the home box and tried to set up Dyer, Moyo doing well to intercept and clear.

A mix-up between Marriot and Sutton led to the defender conceding an unnecessary corner.

From that Owen stole in late at the far post but couldn’t get his header on target and Barrow worked the ball back to Smith whose vicious low shot found Marriott perfectly placed.

Smith was also too high as he whipped in a dipping free kick from distance on the left, Marriott watching the ball sail over the far angle.

O’Neill was caught in possession in his own box when he should have cleared Barrow’s third corner which allowed Rutherford to pick out the imposing figure of Quinn at the far post whose header found the sidenetting.

Barrow were asking questions now and Mackreth wasn’t too far off with his rasping drive, then an Almond shot was deflected with Marriott rooted to force corner number five.

Marriott was back in action to keep out a good effort from Rutherford who had cut in from the right to fire a left-footed shot on target.

Almond’s persistence saw him get through two tackles to lift an 18 yard shot just over as the home fans began to warm loudly to their players’ efforts.

The inevitable then happened on 26 minutes as Almond got his reward with a low shot from 20 yards from Boyes’ pass that zipped across Marriott and inside the far post.

It was the first goal Stags had conceded in 398 of football and left them up against it.

But Paul Cox’s men showed great character to regain their lead within three minutes.

Kendrick floated in a corner from the right which curled into the six yard box and, when Hurst didn’t go for it, the towering Futcher was there to nod home his first goal for the club from close range.

Seconds later, as Stags broke from a Barrow attack, Dyer dragged a low effort across the face of goal and saw the bobble agonisingly wide of the far post.

Almond was denied breaking clear by a very tight offside decision as the action ebbed and flowed.

Another inswinging Kendrick corner found Futcher in the same position, but this time he was unable to get the ball on target from three yards.

Stags cleared another home corner and Marriott was down to hold onto another 18-yard Smith drive down the centre as half-time approached.

Lomax escaped with a lecture after bringing down Green as Stags broke quickly in stoppage time, Kendrick was then embarrassingly high over the bar with the free kick to jeers from the home fans.

But Stags went in with the advantage.

Earlier manager Paul Cox had inevitably named an unchanged team as they went in search of a fifth successive victory.

Paul Bolland replaced Adam Smith on the bench for a tough test against a Barrow side that has already taken the scalps of Fleetwood and Wrexham at home this season.

BARROW: Hurst, Moyo, Skelton, Lomax, Quinn, Mackreth, Owen, Smith, Boyes, Almond, Rutherford. Subs: Jones, Hulbert, Baker, Ferrell, Brooke.

STAGS: Marriott; O’Neill, Sutton, Futcher, Kendrick; Briscoe, Murray, Howell, Meikle; Green, Dyer. Subs: Redmond, Naylor, Worthington, Connor, Bolland.

REFEREE: Tony Harrington of Durham.