Gateshead 2-0 Barrow
Gateshead face an important six-pointer at Grimsby Town on Easter Monday firmly in the play-off mix after a comfortable win over ten-man Barrow.
The Heed are just three points behind 4th placed York City as the scramble to make the top five reaches fever pitch.
A goal in each half from midfield men Kris Gate and Micky Cummins condemned Barrow to a 7th straight defeat without scoring.
The Bluebirds cause wasn't helped by the 49th minute dismissal of Bishop Auckland-born striker Andy Cook, two yellow cards for diving and dissent.
The margin of victory would have been more convincing but for the heroics of Barrow keeper Danny Hurst but Heed boss Ian Bogie was happy enough.
Bogie had seven players missing, Barrow were similarly depleted, and was delighted to keep the promotion flame burning.
"It was a vital win and a good start to the Easter weekend," said Bogie "and we've now got a massive game against Grimsby at Blundell Park.
"We're at the business end of the season and I firmly believe we've got a chance of making the play-offs, especially after other results went for us today.
"We produced some great passages of play at times and should have been out of sight with the opportunities we had after Barrow went down to ten men.
"Their keeper has made some good saves and we've had a couple cleared off the line but at this stage of the season results are all important and we got the three points."
Gateshead took time to put their game together and Cook should have done better than blaze over the bar in the 4th minute when the defence failed to cut out Paul Smith's low cross.
Danny Hone then almost scored an own goal at the other end from the recalled Eddie Odhiambo's cross, Hurst saving at point blank range.
A good move involving Josh Gillies and Jon Shaw saw Hone block Alan O'Brien's close range shot, Shaw then shooting straight at Hurst from Gate's lay-off.
O'Brien's blistering pace was causing the Bluebirds problems and the former Magpie was behind The Heed's opener came in the 36th minute
The Irishman hit the accelerator to move into the right side of the box to cross for Gate to tap home at the back post.
O'Brien then spun away from Paul Edwards on half way to bare down on goal but his shot was blocked by Hurst who then saved at the winger's feet.
A great 35-yard low drive from Paul Dummett, deputising for James Curtis at centre half, was saved at full stretch by Hurst after the break
Cook then saw red and from then on it was one-way traffic as Gateshead lay siege to the visitors goal.
Gillies curled a 24-yard free kick past the post and Dummett had a header from an O'Brien free kick tipped over the bar.
Jamie Chandler's drive from distance produced an acrobatic save from the over worked Hurst while Gate and Shaw had efforts from Gillies corners cleared off the line.
The Heed were playing attractive football and creating plenty of chances, another Dummett header saved by Hurst who was then relieved to see another Chandler shot fly just wide.
The second goal had to come and it was O'Brien's pace that took him past Kelvin Lomax to cross for Cummins to head into the roof of the net 13 minutes from time
Cummins almost made it three with a header from Sam Rents' cross, the ball striking Hurst on the legs.
Barrow's current malaise was then exemplified in injury time when sub Richie Baker shot wide with only Paul Farman to beat.
The Heed keeper didn't have a shot to save in the 90 minutes and with just two goals conceded in the last five games Gateshead will head for Lincolnshire with confidence high.
Gateshead: Farman, Odhiambo, Rents, Gate, Dummett, Clark, O'Brien (Moore 82), Chandler, Shaw, Gillies, Cummins (Marwood 81)
Subs (not used): Deasy (gk), Baxter, Brittain
Goals: Gate (36), Cummins (77)
Booking: Odhiambo (70)
Barrow: Hurst, Skelton (Mackreth 55), Bolland, Rutherford, Cook, Owen (Baker 55), Edwards, Smith, Lomax, Hone, Harvey
Subs (not used): Nicholas, Cudworth (gk)
Bookings: Cook (14, 49), Bolland (30)
Sent Off: Cook (49)
Referee: Richard Clark (Morpeth)
Alan O'Brien setup both goals
Ben Clark tackles former Carlisle striker Andy Cook
Kris Gate scores Gateshead's opener
Micky Cummins seals the victory
Paul Farman claims the ball. Photos by Martin Avery, Steven Hadlow and Steven White.