Colchester United have fallen to a 3-1 defeat at Barrow courtesy of a Billy Waters hattrick at the SO Legal Stadium.
Waters notched his first of the evening after just over twenty minutes had been played, firing in from close range from Josh Kay’s corner.
And it was the same combination for the second, just three minutes later. Kay’s looping corner was nodded back across goal by Ray for Waters to poke home and double the advantage.
The Barrow frontman completed his hattrick within a minute of the second half restarting, when a corner landed kindly for him to slot home from inside the penalty area.
Freddie Sears bagged a consolation for his third of the season in second-half stoppage time, but it could not prevent the U's defeat.
Matt Bloomfield named a side with four changes from the weekend’s home game against Stevenage. Cole Skuse was missing after sustaining an injury in the second half at the JobServe Community Stadium, with Tom Dallison, Freddie Sears and Al-Amin Kazeem named on the substitutes bench.
Alan Judge replaced Skuse in midfield, Junior Tchamadeu was recalled to his usual right-back spot after serving his suspension, with Ryan Clampin and Dan Chesters also both named in the starting eleven.
The game started evenly at Holker Street, with both sides working their way into the contest for the first twenty minutes, but it wasn’t long before the hosts got their noses in front.
It looked to be a point of contention from the U’s perspective, with Kay appearing to use his arm to control the ball before winning a corner off Junior Tchamadeu. The first set piece was defended, but the second was tossed in for a sliding Billy Waters to fire in from close range.
And it was a similar story three minutes later when the home side doubled their advantage. Waters was the man on target again as the U’s struggled to clear a set piece. George Ray won the header at the back post before Waters was able to hook the ball back towards the target and beyond the despairing Hornby.
Barrow could have extended their advantage before the half hour mark as they aimed to pile even more misery on the travelling U’s when David Moyo was slipped in at the near post. Sam Hornby got a touch to the low shot, deflecting it across to Whitfield who really should have made the net bulge, but Tom Eastman was there to deny him.
Colchester United looked to hit back at their promotion-chasing opponents, and were close to halving the deficit with ten to play before half time. Frank Nouble led the charge down the right flank, playing the ball back into the D for Alan Judge, with the Irishman forcing a flying save out of Paul Farman.
But it proved to be the only real threat to Barrow’s advantage before the break as the U’s trailed by two goals heading to the changing rooms.
The same Colchester eleven returned to start the second half, but there was less than sixty seconds played before Billy Waters completed his hattrick, extending Barrow’s advantage. The hosts won a corner quickly after the restart, with Kay delivering a low cross for Waters to rifle home from close range.
Two substitutions quickly followed from Bloomfield; Luke Hannant and Alex Newby were withdrawn with Noah Chilvers and Beryly Lubala taking their place in the action.
The wind and rain started to swirl around the SO Legal stadium with the hosts remaining comfortable, as the U’s opted for two further changes ten minutes before time.
Frank Nouble and Marley Marshall Miranda were the next two players to be taken off, replaced by Freddie Sears and Ossama Ashley.
The closing ten minutes brought a consolation for the U's as Freddie Sears slotted under Farman in the dying seconds of the match, but the job was already done for the home side.
And the full-time whistle at Barrow brings a break from league action for the U’s, who travel to Newport County in the First Round of the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday afternoon.
Barrow starting XI: Farman, Canavan, Waters (Gotts 68’), Kay, White, Foley (Neal 55’), Kenlock, Warren (Brown 84'), Moyo, Ray, Whitfield (Stevens 68’ (Smales-Braithwaite 74’)).
Subs: Lillis, Brown, Neal, Gotts, Smales-Braithwaite, Stevens.
Colchester United starting XI: Hornby, Clampin, Chambers, Hannant (Chilvers 55’), Judge, Eastman, Newby (Lubala 55’), Tchamadeu, Chesters, Marshall Miranda (Ashley 79’), Nouble (Sears 79’).
Subs: O’Hara, Dallison, Sears, Chilvers, Lubala, Ashley, Kazeem.
Attendance: 3,224 (91)