Goals from Scott Quigley and Bobby Thomas wrapped up Barrow’s 2-0 victory at Forest Green that secured their League Two status and had caretaker boss Rob Kelly delighted for his players.
Grimsby’s defeat at Exeter coupled with this win in the Cotswolds ensured the Bluebirds remain in the Football League for another season even though Kelly admitted the omens were not good at the start of the year.
He said: “It wasn’t looking great for us at Christmas and in January but everybody has rallied and supported everyone else.
“It has been a united effort and I’m sure the club will be so much better next season because they now know what the Football League looks like – how tough and how unforgiving but also how exciting it can be.
“Today was a massive game for us, particularly coming on the back on a couple of disappointing results – not performances because they have given that [effort] but we just managed to add that cutting edge today and create a couple of good chances in the first half. I’m just delighted for everybody that we have managed to get over the line.
“I am absolutely thrilled for the players and they will remember this now. When you wait 50 years [for league football] you have a sense of responsibility but they have shouldered that responsibility and got it done.”
Quigley’s opener came from the penalty spot 18 minutes in after Bobby Thomas had been fouled.
And it was Thomas who doubled Barrow’s advantage seven minutes later when he rifled into the roof of the net after home keeper Luke McGee kept out a Calvin Andrew strike.
The Bluebirds could have added to their tally when a Neal Eardley free-kick hit the post while the home side’s best effort fell to Jake Young early in the second half, prompting a full-length save from Joel Dixon.
Forest Green’s interim head coach Jimmy Ball lamented a poor start for his side, who failed to score for a third game.
He said: “We were a bit slow out of the blocks today – a bit short in the first half, but in the second half we were fantastic and had a right go, and knocked on the door.
“Over my four games in charge, we’ve had one poor half of football and we got punished tonight. Barrow deserved the victory on the night – happy they’ve stayed up and secured their league status, but disappointed for us.”
Despite dropping out of the play-offs, Ball is looking at the positives with two games of the regular season to go.
He added: “We’ve had something taken off us and we’re going to grab it back – we have to win our last two games – we have to beat Tranmere and Oldham.”