First half Barnet XI: Graham Stack; Elliott Johnson, Jack Saville (c), Will Antwi, Andy Yiadom; Luisma Villa, Gavin Mahon, Curtis Weston, Keanu Marsh-Brown; John Akinde, Charlie MacDonald.
Barnet got their pre-season campaign underway at The Hive on Saturday with a narrow 1-0 defeat against Peterborough United, but there was much to be positive about as the Bees pushed the League One side all the way in a keenly-contested match.
Barnet named a few new faces in their side for the first half as Martin Allen looked to make use of the chance to test out some of the trialists that have been training with the club during pre-season.
Will Antwi, who was playing for AFC Wimbledon in League Two last season, partnered captain Jack Saville in the centre of defence while Gavin Mahon – formerly of Brentford, Watford and QPR – was named in midfield.
Another former Brentford player in Charlie MacDonald also featured for the first time for the Bees, starting up front alongside new signing John Akinde.
Barnet started brightly with Keanu Marsh-Brown breaking forward after three minutes, but his low cross fired across goal was well cleared. Barnet then came even closer with just 13 minutes on the clock.
Luisma was tripped by Jack Payne on the edge of the box, and got up to take the resulting free-kick. His curling effort looked to be goal-bound but bounced back against the right-hand post before John Akinde’s bobbling follow-up then clipped the left-hand upright before going out of play.
Peterborough, who reached the League One play-off semi-finals last season, were showing their quality with good spells in possession but struggled to fashion many clear-cut chances as Barnet showed good energy levels to press the ball tirelessly.
The Bees continued to look dangerous going forward, and cut Peterborough open after 36 minutes. Curtis Weston played a beautifully flighted cross-field pass forward towards Keanu Marsh-Brown, who, running from deep chested the ball down and held off the defender but slipped as he shot, firing over from six yards out.
It proved to be the best chance of a promising first-half in which Barnet could legitimately have claimed to be the better side.
Second half Barnet XI: Monty George; Sam Muggleton, Ramil Sheriff, David Stephens, Jon Nurse; Luke Gambin, Archange Nkumu (Ahmed Abdullah, 64), Mauro Vilhete (c), Jamal Lowe; George Sykes, Vinny Mukendi.
Both sides made wholesale changes at half-time, with Barnet naming an entirely new eleven. Once again the Bees team included a number of trialists with Ramil Sheriff in defence, Archange Nkumu in midfield and Vinny Mukendi, playing for Southport last season, being named in attack.
Peterborough also made nine substitutions of their own, as last season’s top scorer Britt Assombalonga came on along with a host of other established first players including Grant McCann and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.
Peterborough were looking a much more dangerous side with their injection of pace and strength in attack, and took the lead after 51 minutes. Barnet lost possession from a throw-in and once the ball found its way to Kgosi Ntlhe in the penalty area the full-back produced a sharp finish, poking low into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Despite falling behind, Barnet rallied and continued to create chances of their own, with Luke Gambin weaving his way past Peterborough’s midfield on the hour mark before unleashing a long-range effort which was deflected into the side netting.
From the resulting corner, the ball floated over everybody where it reached Jon Nurse but his off-balance shot was wide and high.
Peterborough were beginning to establish themselves as the clock wore on, keeping possession well against a young Barnet team. They nearly doubled their lead after 72 minutes when a long ball forward found Conor Washington who had ghosted in behind the Barnet defence, but after taking a touch to bring the ball down he prodded his shot wide of goal.
The Bees best chance of the second half came with seven minutes left on the clock. New signing Carl Muggleton unleashed the long throw for which he has earned a reputation into the box where it fell to the feet of trialist Mukendi, but with his back to goal the tall striker was unable to get any purchase on his back-heel.
It was Barnet’s last real opportunity as Peterborough hung on to claim a narrow 1-0 win in what will no doubt be considered a very productive work-out for both sides as they got their pre-season campaigns underway.
Barnet’s next test comes on Tuesday evening, with local rivals Stevenage coming to The Hive.
First half Peterborough XI: Bobby Olejnik; Joe Newell, Gabriel Zakuani, Jack Baldwin, Kane Ferdinand; Nicky Ajose, Jack Payne (c) (Tom Conlon, 30), Jermaine Anderson; Tyrone Barnett, Kyle Vassell, Erhun Oztumer.
Second half Peterborough XI: Olejnik; Adam Drury, Shaun Brisley, Michael Bostwick, Kgosi Ntlhe; Grant McCann, Jon Taylor, Conor Washington, Tom Conlon (Ricardo Santos, 61), Nathaniel Mendez-Laing; Britt Assombalonga.