OPPOSING coaches John Connolly and Mark Evans were united in praise of Bath's own 'Goldenboot' Olly Barkley as the young fly-half's sweet left foot strengthened his side's grip on the Zurich Premiership.

Barkley gave Harlequins a real kicking landing six successful attempts on goal as the league leaders overcame the sending-off of flanker Michael Lipman to stretch their advantage at the top to a commanding nine points.

Rather like a certain other English No 10, Barkley, 22 on Friday, is rapidly cultivating an image as a proven matchwinner and the two team chiefs were quick to sing his praises after the match.

Quins' boss Evans said: ''He's always been a talented player and he's a great kicker of the ball, even though he's not the finished article yet.''

Connolly added: ''He is a young player with a lot of talent and a great future in front of him. He has improved a lot since last season, but whether we keep him at 10 (fly-half) or 12 (inside centre) we will have to sit down and talk to him about it.''

The man himself said: ''I was very happy because I was striking the ball exceptionally well, but it was the way the forwards played that set it up.

''Michael Lipman has been fantastic for us this season and him going was a massive loss and did put a dent in our plans. But it maybe gave us the kick up the backside we needed because we hadn't really played well.

''In the second half we really played as a team and I thought the boys performed fantastically.''

Barkley's lethal left-foot weapon ensured that Bath were not made to pay for the red card handed out to Lipman just past the half-hour of the match.

Touch judge Lloyd Jackson raised his flag immediately at a ruck on the 10-metre line and, when referee Roy Maybank had called a halt to play, he consulted with his fellow official before dismissing Lipman for apparently using his boot illegally on Quins' flanker Pat Sanderson.

The visitors at that stage were 7-6 to the good, Sanderson's expertly-worked close-range try from a well-rehearsed lineout move and Paul Burke's conversion giving them the edge over Barkley's two kicks.

Burke had earlier missed a first-minute shot at goal, but despite being man down, Bath were two points up at the interval as Barkley landed his third kick.

A fourth one minute into the second period stretched Bath's advantage and Quins never remotely looked like making the extra man count.

Instead, Bath's tactical kicking with Barkley and Matt Perry particularly prominent kept their visitors at bay and Barkley nudged over another penalty on 52 minutes to give the home side a two-score advantage.

Sub Andy Dunne on for Burke gave Quins hope with a penalty with 10 minutes left but, in injury time, Barkley made it six out of six to seal it.

Bath: Perry, Human, Higgins, Kydd (Maggs 65), Danielli, Barkley, Wood, Flatman (Stevens 69), Humphreys (capt) (Mears 71), Bell, Borthwick, Fidler, Beattie, Lipman, Feaunati. Subs not used: Blake, Sampson, Scaysbrook, Gray.

NEC Harlequins: Duffy, Keogh, Bell, Deane, Monye, Burke (Dunne 46), Willis, Jones (Worsley 58), Fuga, Dawson (Gomez 64), Davison (Rudzki 58), Evans, Sanderson, Vos (capt), Diprose (Winters 64). Subs not used: Hayter, Taumalolo.

Referee: Roy Maybank (RFU)

Yellow cards: none

Red cards: Bath: Lipman, 32, illegal use of boot

Attendance: 9,980