Fraizer Campbell may be struggling to make a breakthrough in the Premier League at Sunderland, but his FA Cup double brought an end to non-league Barrow's dreams of reaching the fourth round.
Just when the courageous team from the Blue Square Premier looked like they could pull themselves level after Steed Malbranque's opener inside quarter of an hour – his first goal in more than a year – Campbell finally enjoyed a turnaround in fortunes at the Stadium of Light.
Barrow's joint-manager Darren Sheridan said: "We're proud of them. I didn't think there was much in the game in the first half and we had a couple of strikes on goal, but the goal just after half-time killed us. It's still been a brilliant day, though."
Goals – and first-team opportunities – have been a problem for Campbell since his £3.5 million move from Manchester United in the summer and yesterday looked like being another one of those days.
But after frustrating his team-mates with a couple of poor decisions in the first half, Campbell grabbed two headers inside five second-half minutes to wipe the smiles off the 7,500 Barrow fans who had made the trip from the North-west.
With a quarter of the Cumbrian town here after braving the inclement weather across the Pennines, there was an intent from the non-League outfit to start well in front of their more illustrious opponents.
Malbranque had gone close inside four minutes, taking a touch before curling a yard wide from just outside the penalty area, but Barrow had looked the more dangerous.
Marc Goodfellow, on loan from Burton having started as a trainee at Stoke, was the first to excite the huge travelling support. He was allowed to turn inside from the right and aim directly at goal, but Marton Fulop gathered comfortably.
One of Barrow's brightest talents throughout was Andy Bond and Fulop had to dive to his right to palm the midfielder's 25-yard free-kick away for a corner. There had also been a hairy moment for Sunderland when winger Paul Rutherford was allowed to cut inside full-back Phil Bardsley, but with time to choose his spot he failed to find the target.
Barrow might be struggling in the lower reaches of the Blue Square Premier, but Sunderland could quite easily have had an even harder task on their hands. Shortly before the break referee Neil Swarbrick opted to hand George McCartney a yellow card when holding the red for a two-footed lunge on Bond, even if the Northern Irishman did win the ball.
Bond might have hit the wall with his dead ball, but the opportunity was another indication that Sunderland had not had things their own way, even if striker Campbell was guilty of a couple of wasted opportunities.
Campbell, however, did not take too much longer to make the breakthrough. After Malbranque had earned a free-kick near the touchline, Daryl Murphy floated it over and Campbell cushioned a diving header beyond goalkeeper Tim Deasy.
That extra advantage proved crucial, as Barrow folded while Sunderland's extra class told from that moment, as their opponents struggled to maintain their first-half tempo.
And when Campbell rose ahead of Barrow skipper Phil Bolland to flick Bardsley's delivery from the right beyond Deasy six minutes after his first, Sunderland had secured their place in the next round.
Had it not been for Deasy then Barrow would have been embarrassed in the end. But while Campbell successfully found a way through, there was no such joy for England striker Darren Bent. Deasy made two stunning saves to deny him in the latter stages, but the damage had already been done.
Bruce said: "It was fairly comfortable in the end. It was a proper cup tie in the first half, but, the longer it goes on, the more the fitness level comes through. We could have won by five or six in the end, but their keeper performed miracles. Give credit to Barrow, though. They played their part and were very spirited. They have one or two good individuals."
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Man of the match: Deasy
Match rating: 6/10Reuse content