Two penalties helped Gainsborough Trinity to run out comfortable 3-0 winners against the league’s bottom side Workington on Saturday.
Bradley Barraclough gave the Blues an advantage in the fifth minute before two Simon Russell penalties, one in each half, secured the points.
Their task was made even easier by the fact that both penalties resulted in dismissals for Workington players.
Trinity boss Steve Housham said he ‘was pleased with three points and a clean sheet’ in a game they ‘were probably expected to win’.
“We needed to win today, and in the end it was comfortable,” Housham told the Standard.
“We’d have taken three points before the game. It wasn’t a spectacle by any means but we were in a bit of a no-win situation as we were expected to win against the bottom side.”
“I don’t think we performed at great levels today and fair play to Workington as they kept plugging away and made it hard for us.”
After an early save for Blues keeper Phil Barnes from Workington front-man Jozef Jackson’s shot, Trinity took the lead with their first chance in the fifth minute.
A long Ciaran Toner free-kick was played into the box and it was Ashley Burbeary who got on the end of it.
His shot was deflected and it fell right to the feet of Barraclough who controlled before slotting it into the corner of the net from six yards out.
Following the goal, there was a period of quite even play, although both teams were guilty of playing a lot of long balls and ceding possession back to their opponents.
The visitors did carve out one chance when Phil McLuckie was left unmarked but he volleyed just wide.
Midway through the first half came perhaps the defining moment, as Workington’s debutant goalkeeper Danijel Nizic was given his marching orders by referee Anthony Tankard.
A poor back-pass from Lee Andrews sent Barraclough through on goal and he was brought down by Nizic, on loan from Burnley.
With no goalkeeper on the bench, centre-back Kyle May donned the gloves but he could do nothing about Simon Russell’s penalty.
Before the half-time whistle, both teams traded efforts against the woodwork.
First, Liam Davis struck a curling shot onto the cross bar for Trinity before Jackson hit the post for the 10 men of the visitors after good work by Valter Fernandes.
Ten minutes into the second half Gainsborough really should have extended their lead but Jamie Wootton could only put a weak header towards goal and stand-in keeper May punched clear.
Despite being a man up, Trinity struggled to press home their advantage and Workington nearly got back into the game after a clever free-kick routine was blocked behind for a corner.
With only 20 minutes left, Toner played in a free-kick that eventually made its way to Davis.
His shot looked to have gone in off the underside of the crossbar but Gavin Skelton handled on the line.
The referee issued another red card to the visitors and Russell dispatched his second penalty to make it 3-0.
That’s how it finished as Trinity didn’t really create any further chances of note against the nine men, but manager Housham was satisfied with the result.
He told the Standard: “At half-time I said to the lads that we wanted a higher tempo, at times it was like testimonial stuff.”
“We wanted discipline and if you look at the score-line, we’ve got a clean sheet and three goals so it’s a job well done.”
Barraclough, scorer of the first goal for the Blues, echoed his manager’s sentiments.
He said: “It was good to get three points in what was really a must win game. It’s important now not to get complacent.”
Trinity: Barnes, Roma (Martin 79), Wilde, Burbeary (Winfarrah 45), Howe, McKenzie, Russell, Toner, Wootton (Stamp 69), Barraclough, Davis. Subs not used: Leary, Batty.
Barrow: Nizic, V. Fernandes, Brownhill, May, Andrews, Lynch, McLuckie (Wilson 69), Hindmarch (B. Fernandes 72), Jackson, Skelton, McKenna (Wright 69). Subs not used: Tinnion, Allison.
Goals: Barraclough 5, Russell 21 (pen), 71 (pen).