Barnet 0 Stevenage Borough 0

Last updated : 09 March 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Only goals were lacking in this passionate local derby as Hertfordshire Nationwide Conference rivals Barnet and Stevenage fought out a 0-0 draw.

Over 2,000 fans packed into Underhill for a hot-tempered affair on a bitterly cold night.

Only in the 73rd minute when Stevenage's Tunisian centre-forward Dino Maamria got himself sent off, did the game's competitive spirit threaten to overstep the mark.

Having clattered two-footed into Liam Hatch, Mr Booth the referee clearly had no option but to send the player off.

Ugly scenes followed with all 22 players getting involved in a melee which saw substitutes and officials rush on to the pitch to restore order, but from the kick-off every ball was as fiercely contested.

The first real breakthrough of a fraught opening came in the 14th minute when ex-Newcastle and Sunderland goalkeeper Lionel Perez acrobatically clawed the ball out from under the bar after a clever right-foot flick by Hatch from 15 yards.

Unfortunately that was to be the highlight of the Frenchman's night as he was carried off on 28 minutes after a heavy clash with Giuliano Grazioli.

Mark Westhead came into the Stevenage goal and was immediately called into action when another Hatch effort demanded another outstanding save.

The second half became scrappier as the game descended into a series of niggly fouls and bookings which culminated in Maamria's moment of madness. Both teams then decided to play football and go for the three points.

A clever 85th minute Grazioli break made space for Ben Strevens and with time and space he should have done better than screw the ball wide.

Anthony Elding also lobbed weakly into Ademola Bankole's arms when in a good position in the dying seconds.

Barnet manager Martin Allen declared himself happy with the night's work: "Every single one of my players conducted themselves with commitment and passion. Both sets of supporters will have gone home saying that was a great game." Then, however, urging a note of caution he compared the Barnet medical room with a Saturday night down at the local casualty ward.