A last minute goal by fans’ favourite, Luisma Villa gave the Bees a probably underserved three points at home to bottom of the table, Alfreton Town who will feel pretty hard done by with the defeat having frustrated the league leaders for much of the game and having, arguably the best chances in the match.
Martin Allen rested Elliott Johnson and played Jack Saville at left back and Luke Gambin replaced the injured, Mauro Vilhete. 16 year old striker, Mathew Stevens, who scored in the midweek friendly at Luton Town was on the bench.
Barnet gave a very flat first half performance and hardly tested Dawson in the Alfreton goal. Dan Bradley who joined Barnet in the summer only to decide he couldn’t settle in London and returned to Alfreton, looked very dangerous and gave Saville a very difficult time in the first half and Barnet had Graham Stack to thank when Massiah MacDonald was played through only for the Conference Player of the Month to make himself big and block the Alfreton striker’s shot.
Barnet’s best effort came with about 10 minutes of the first half left when a Lee Cook cross found former Alfreton striker, John Akinde clear in front of goal but the powerful Barnet striker just couldn’t quite get over the ball enough with his header and it crept just over the bar.
Shortly before half time there was a clash between Alfreton striker, MacDonald and David Stephens and the Bees’ defender appeared to put his hands round his opponent’s neck. Both players were booked, but, on another day, Stephens could have been sent off.
HT: Barnet 0 Alfreton Town 0
There was a surprise when Dan Bradley didn’t come out for the second half, but Alfreton continued to frustrate the Bees and went ahead in the opening minute of the second half through MacDonald. At this point, Barnet were struggling to make an impact, but the Bees were handed a lifeline when Alfreton defender Lathenial Rowe-Turner brought down Akinde in the penalty area with the Barnet player through on goal and the referee had no alternative to award Barnet a penalty and hand Rowe-Turner a red card.
Charlie MACDONALD did well to compose himself given the way Alfreton players delayed the taking of the penalty with their remonstrations to the referee and perfectly placed his shot into the bottom right corner of the net.
With a one man advantage and half an hour of the match left, Barnet should have taken control but they continued to struggle against a side that had come to frustrate them and were suceeding even if that did involve an enormous amount of time wasting, particularly from Dawson, who was eventually booked for it. Barnet failed to produce any kind of fluency and found it difficult to cope with the high ball game that Alfreton played for much of the game, often seeming to want to send the ball into orbit.
Ironically, Alfreton finally paid the price for their time wasting and the delaying tactics around the penalty by conceding the winner in time added on. Having, seemingly, lost possession just outside the penalty area, Luisma Villa, having come on earlier for Luke Gambin, won the ball back, only to be fouled just outside the penalty area, in a very central position. LUISMA VILLA took the free kick and hit a stunning shot which dipped into the top left hand corner of the net with Dawson completely helpless.
Barnet held out to take all three points despite playing very poorly over the course of the 90 minutes. Certainly, one would have felt that Alfreton would have deserved something from the game if it hadn’t been for the unfortunate spoiling tactics that seemed an integral part of their performance. Still, it cannot be argued that Barnet were very lucky to win the match and remain at the top of the Conference table. They say that to succeed, a team has to learn to win ugly and the Bees definitely did that today. Next up, newly promoted Dover away.
FT: Barnet 2 Alfreton Town 1
Barnet Mad Man of the Match: Luisma Villa
Barnet: Stack; Yiadom, N’Gala, Stephens, Saville (Muggleton 52); Gambin (Luisma Villa 62), Weston, Togwell (Stevens 82), Cook; Akinde, MacDonald
Subs not used: Nurse, Mekki