Barnet moved one point clear at the top of the Vanarama Conference on Tuesday night with a hard-earned 1-1 draw away to FC Halifax Town.
Curtis Weston had looked to have given the Bees all three points with a headed goal midway through the second half, but the Bees were forced to settle for a share of the spoils after Lois Maynard equalised for the hosts late on following a red card for David Stephens.
Ahead of the game, Martin Allen named an unchanged side to the team that overcame Eastleigh at the Silverlake Stadium on Saturday, with the only alteration seeing Elliott Johnson revert to left-back and Sam Muggleton push forward into midfield as Curtis Weston continued to support John Akinde in attack.
The only change to the matchday squad came with the inclusion of goalkeeper Sam Cowler on the bench as Luke Gambin was the man to make way.
With the pitch at The Shay barely having recovered since the fixture’s original postponement back in January the Bees were put under plenty of pressure during the first half with the hosts clearly more used to playing on a difficult playing surface.
However, Barnet were resilient at the back, with Bondz N’Gala and David Stephens winning plenty of aerial balls, and were posing plenty of threat of their own as they looked to break at pace when the ball fell to them.
In fact, it was the visitors who had the first real chance of the match as a superb angled pass over the defence by Mauro Vilhete fell directly between Curtis Weston and the onrushing Matt Glennon, but having beaten the keeper to the ball the skipper’s poked effort cannoned back against his shins.
Halifax were enjoying the vast majority of possession however and nearly forced the opener with a succession of corners midway through the first period as Graham Stack picked up where he left off from an outstanding performance at the weekend to block a flicked header by Richard Peniket before keeping out a volley from the same player at his near post.
Peniket proved a nuisance again ten minutes later, charging into the box to meet a deep cross from Scott McManus but Graham Stack was once again equal to his bouncing header, gathering at the second attempt.
Having weathered the storm, it was Barnet who came within inches of taking the lead a minute before the break, as good pressure from Vilhete in the Halifax box won the ball for Andy Yiadom who unleashed a shot across goal that cannoned back against the inside of the post to bring an absorbing first half to an end.
Barnet made a change at the break, bringing Michael Gash on for Conor Clifford – and the striker did help to provide some added presence up front with his hold-up play.
However, it was his strike partner who had a golden chance to open the scoring shortly before the hour mark when a floated pass over the defence by Elliott Johnson picked out John Akinde, but the number nine could only blast straight at Glennon.
Yet the Bees would only have to wait another ten minutes to take the lead, as Curtis Weston met a corner taken by substitute Lee Cook from the right to plant a bullet volley high into the net and put the visitors 1-0 up.
Halifax responded strongly, and Barnet had Graham Stack to thank for preserving their lead on 75 minutes as he palmed a fizzing volley from Jack Muldoon away for a corner after the substitute had done well to chest the ball down.
Muldoon would have another good chance just moments later, but this time he could not keep his volley from ten yards out down as the ball sailed high and wide over the Bees’ goal.
However, Barnet were stung as the game ticked into five minutes of added time when – having already been booked for obstruction – David Stephens received a second yellow card for a foul on the outskirts of the penalty area and was sent off.
Peniket mishit the resulting free kick as the ball bobbled off the base of the post and bounced back into the Barnet area, with Lois Maynard eventually turning the ball in for an equaliser at the death.
Following a hard-earned point the Bees are now one point clear at the top of the league heading into their game at home to Welling United on Saturday, which will be followed by the Player of the Year awards as fans and players prepare for a thrilling run-in.
FC Halifax Town: Matt Glennon; James Bolton, Marc Roberts (c), Graham Hutchinson, Scott McManus; Adam Smith (Jack Muldoon 65), Matty Pearson, Paul Marshall (Danny Hattersley 87), Lois Maynard, Jamie Jackson; Richard Peniket.
Barnet FC: Graham Stack; Andy Yiadom, David Stephens, Bondz N’Gala, Sam Muggleton (Lee Cook 58); Mauro Vilhete, Sam Togwell, Conor Clifford (Michael Gash 46), Elliott Johnson; Curtis Weston (c); John Akinde (Jack Saville 89).
Attendance: 1,127 (133 Barnet)