Sunderland 3 Barrow 0
Fraizer Campbell struck his first goals for three months to head Sunderland into the FA Cup fourth round at the expense of brave non-leaguers Barrow.
The Blue Square Premier side had put the wind up Steve Bruce’s men in a storming start which saw Phil Bolland, Paul Bond and Marc Goodfellow all come close.
But Steed Malbranque’s 17th-minute opener set the home side on their way in freezing conditions and Campbell’s brace early in the second period saw the Barclays Premier League side home.
Campbell, whose only previous goal this season came in the Carling Cup against Birmingham in September, broke the hearts of around 8,000 away fans massed in the South Stand.
Barrow were dreaming of greater things in a stunning start with Goodfellow’s first effort blocked by David Meyler in the box in the third minute.
Bond skidded a shot into home goalkeeper Marton Fulop’s arms and the visitors came even closer in the ninth minute when captain Bolland hammered a 30-yard free-kick which Fulop tipped wide.
But Sunderland grabbed a barely deserved lead in the 17th minute when Campbell played a deft back-heel into the path of Malbranque, who swept home a low shot from eight yards.
Undaunted, Barrow continued looking bright and a deep cross from the busy Goodfellow almost fell at the feet of Bond inside the box. In the 28th minute, Bond’s long-range shot was held by Fulop.
Malbranque had a low effort saved by Tim Deasy and in first-half stoppage time Campbell also had a fine chance as he chipped over the keeper but saw his shot dribble wide.
The second half was a different story as the home side stepped up the pace against tiring opposition and secured the win which kept the woe of their winless Premier League run at bay.
The second arrived in the 52nd minute when Daryl Murphy swung in a free-kick from the left and Campbell directed a header past Deasy into the bottom corner.
Suddenly looking stretched, the visitors made their first change with Carlos Logan replacing Paul Rutherford, but Sunderland went further ahead on 58 minutes when Campbell nodded in a cross from the right by Phillip Bardsley.
Darren Bent had a shot saved by Deasy, Malbranque fired just over and Campbell was inches from deflecting home a Meyler strike which would have secured his hat-trick.
Deasy pulled off a magnificent point-blank save to deny Bent in the 68th minute and again three minutes later when he somehow tipped a drive against the bar.
Campbell miscued another hat-trick chance in the 84th minute when he headed high from close range as both managers took the chance to make a string of substitutions.
And heading into stoppage time, Sunderland substitute Ryan Noble missed a golden opportunity when he cut into the box from the left and shot across the face of goal.
Their inevitable defeat did nothing to dampen the spirits of the Barrow fans - nor did the announcement that they faced a considerably longer journey home due to the closure of the A66.