Lewis Mansell netted just four minutes into his Stanley debut to ensure the Reds qualified for the knockout stages of the Papa John’s Trophy with an unbeaten record.

Nathan Baxter saved a Scott Quigley penalty to keep a clean sheet on his second start in what was a competitive clash at Holker Street.

Stanley finished as group winners, with eight points, and will be one of the seeded sides for the knockout stage draw.

Any signs of this not being a competitive affair were dispelled inside 30 seconds, Matt Butcher catching Jason Taylor with a late challenge after running the ball forward from the kick-off.

A fast start to the game included a goal in the sixth minute, Lewis Mansell on target on his debut with a neat close-range finish after Ryan Cassidy squeezed out a cross from the byline.

Ben Barclay was in the book for cynically ended a Josh Kay break forward, before Ross Sykes followed him into the book in the 11th minute when referee James Bell pointed to the spot. Strike partners Scott Quigley and Jayden Reid linked up, the latter having too much pace for Reds captain Sykes who pulled him down.

A penalty was the right call, Quigley the man to take on the honours, but Baxter made a fine save diving away to his right.

And Barrow were almost punished with Stanley’s next attack, Matt Butcher volleying narrowly wide from the edge of the box on his left foot.

Both sides were operating with a back three, but happy to push numbers forward and join the attack, and also try their luck from distance.

Jason Taylor had a shot deflected wide for the hosts, while after rolling Cameron Burgess, albeit after grabbing a chunk of his shirt, Quigley’s well-hit drive from 25 yards was well gathered by Baxter.

Two pot-shots from distance from Barclay failed to overly extend Lillis, and while Stanley were having more of the ball and territory, Baxter was the busier of the two goalkeepers.

Birmingham loanee Reid showed his skill, nutmegging his marker on the edge of the box before thumping an effort goalwards that Baxter gathered at the second attempt.

Lillis was soon in the action though, this time a little more straightforward, though Butcher’s shot did have plenty of swerve on it as he watched it into his gloves.

With Stanley still feeling their way back into the action after their Covid-related absence, John Coleman made a double change at the break.

One of those came up top, as Dion Charles replaced goalscorer Mansell, and within two minutes of the re-start he could have added his name to the scoresheet. A cross from Joe Pritchard was controlled by Charles who on the turn drew a fine save out of Lillis.

Another of the changes, Harvey Rodgers, was caught under the ball moments later, another fine Quigley ball releasing Kay who, with a better first touch, would have been clean through on goal.

The players were becoming increasingly disillusioned at the referee, with both feeling hard done to by decisions, as Chris Taylor and Kgosi Ntlhe both entered the book.

Chances weren’t arriving with the same regularity however, that until the midway point of the half when Stanley thought they had grabbed a second, only to be denied the linesman’s flag. Cassidy was adjudged to have moved infront of his marker too soon to turn home a Pritchard delivery from the right.

Both managers had made their changes as the game ticked into the final 20 minutes, but it was the referee’s notebook, rather than either goalkeeper, that was seeing the most action.

And Stanley were able to negotiate the closing stages, including four added minutes, despite some late Barrow pressure.

Barrow: (3-5-2): Lillis, Zouma, Wilson, Ntlhe (Brough, 70), Brown, J Taylor, C Taylor, Gribbin (Sea, 67), Kay, Quigley (Biggins, 73), Reid

Subs: Moloney, Platt, Angus, James

Stanley (3-1-4-2): Baxter, Sykes, Hughes, Burgess, Barclay, Pritchard, Butcher (Rodgers, 46), Scully, Uwakwe (Conneely, 72), Mansell (Charles, 46), Cassidy

Subs: Savin, Maguire, Sama, Fenlon