Barnet saw their six-game unbeaten run in the Vanarama Conference come to an end on Sunday, going down 4-1 to Lincoln City at Sincil Bank as the Bees suffered their heaviest defeat of the season.
Despite an evenly-matched first half Barnet found themselves two down at the break, before being forced to play with ten men for the majority of the second half when Elliott Johnson was forced off with a hamstring injury after the Bees had already made three changes.
Ahead of the game, Martin Allen named two changes to the side that overcame Aldershot Town 1-0 at The Hive on New Year’s Day.
Lee Cook and Luisma Villa were handed recalls on the wings with Mauro Vilhete and Keanu Marsh-Brown both dropping to the bench, as Barnet lined up with the same team that drew with Dover Athletic exactly a week earlier.
Despite playing some nice football during a cagey opening to the game, the Bees fell behind on 17 minutes when Alan Power nodded a high cross into the box from the left by Sean Newton down into the path of Ben Tomlinson, who dispatched a bouncing volley up and over the helpless Graham Stack and into the net.
Barnet responded well and won a corner immediately afterwards when John Akinde’s shot towards the bottom corner was deflected wide. Charlie MacDonald then went close from the resulting corner, nodding Lee Cook’s delivery narrowly wide.
They were made to rue those missed opportunities shortly afterwards, as the Imps doubled their advantage after 24 minutes. Again it came from the left, as Newton fed the ball to Jon Nolan who in turn teed up Power to thump high into the net from the edge of the box.
Barnet continued to create chances of their own, and had a couple of set piece opportunities with Luisma sending one free-kick wide before Cook saw another deflected over for a corner.
The Bees were applying plenty of pressure as they looked to pull a goal back before the break, and only a last ditch challenge could stop Cook from finishing a scintillating move that involved both Luisma and Curtis Weston.
The pair would go close themselves in the last minute of the half, with Weston having a crisp half-volley from the edge of the area charged down before Luisma saw a close-range shot well blocked by Newton to deny what looked a certain goal with the last action of the first period.
Martin Allen responded at half-time by making a triple substitution, bringing on some added pace in the form of Keanu Marsh-Brown and Luke Gambin for Cook and Luisma as well as replacing Sam Togwell with David Hunt.
However, having made all of their changes in one fell swoop they were forced to play with ten men for the final forty minutes after Elliott Johnson was forced off after sustaining a hamstring injury.
With Barnet pushing forward in search of a route back into the game they were leaving themselves open at the back, and they were soon punished by a Lincoln attack down the absent Johnson’s flank.
Marcus Marshall broke forward down the right before crossing for the advancing attackers, and after Delano Sam-Yorke had been unable to bring his cross down Jon Nolan was on hand to poke in from close range at the second time of asking and make it 3-0 to Lincoln.
The Bees kept persevering and forced a succession of corners shortly after the hour mark, the second of which struck the bar after goalkeeper Paul Farman failed to deal with Marsh-Brown’s delivery.
Shortly afterwards Andy Yiadom, playing in more advanced midfield position, broke forward before creating some room on the edge of the box with some stepovers, but he was unable to keep his effort on target as the bail flew wide of the goal.
The hosts continued to look dangerous going forward, and both Bondz N’Gala and David Stephens were required to block efforts from substitute Jordan Burrow.
Yet it was another substitute in Conner Robinson who pounced to score Lincoln’s fourth, stretching to the ball amongst a crowd of bodies to slide past Stack into the bottom left-hand corner.
Barnet did pull one back four minutes before the end when Luke Gambin collected MacDonald’s pass before cutting back inside onto his left foot and bending a beautiful shot inside the far post and into the net.
However, it was of course to prove little more than a consolation as the Bees were comfortably beaten by the Imps, who become the first team to do the double over them this season. With Bristol Rovers winning at Nuneaton, Barnet’s lead at the top of the table is now six points.
The Bees now have nearly a fortnight to recover, with another challenging game coming up away to Grimsby Town on January 17th in the day’s early kick off which will be televised live on BT Sport.
Lincoln City: Paul Farman; Jake Caprice, Nat Brown, Hamza Bencherif, Sean Newton; Alan Power, Charlee Adams, Marcus Marshall (Conner Robinson 69), Jon Nolan, Ben Tomlinson; Delano Sam-Yorke (Jordan Burrow 66).
Barnet FC: Graham Stack; Andy Yiadom, David Stephens, Bondz N’Gala, Elliott Johnson; Luisma Villa (Keanu Marsh-Brown 46), Sam Togwell (David Hunt 46), Curtis Weston, Lee Cook (Luke Gambin 46); John Akinde, Charlie MacDonald (c).
Attendance: 2,759 (173 Barnet).