Barnet suffered their first defeat on the road this season as they went down 2-1 against Macclesfield Town as Moss Rose on Tuesday night.
Two second half goals – the first a spectacular strike – were enough to give the Silkmen the victory, despite the Bees pulling one back through John Akinde and going close on numerous occasions.
Martin Allen shuffled his side ahead of their fourth game in ten days, handing recalls to experienced midfielders Sam Togwell and Jon Nurse as Elliott Johnson dropped back into defence with Mauro VIlhete pushing forward onto the left wing.
Jack Saville also started his first game since recovering from an ankle injury sustained against Alfreton last month, coming into the heart of the defence as David Stephens was rested for the first league game in over two years.
With Barnet unbeaten away and the hosts still yet to lose at Moss Rose so far this season it was always likely to be a tight encounter, and so it proved during a cagey opening ten minutes.
The Bees should have taken the lead with their first real chance of the game on 13 minutes after Elliott Johnson robbed the ball from Dan Cowan before advancing down the left and crossing to Hoskins at the back post, but the in-form striker could only skew the bouncing ball over the crossbar.
The home side were the next to go close midway through the first half when a miscued clearance by Sam Togwell allowed Macclesfield striker Waide Fairhurst a sight on goal. However, Graham Stack was alert to palm away his stabbed effort with one hand before racing out to gather the rebound off the forehead of the onrushing Arthur Gnahoua.
Barnet did have the ball in the back of the net five minutes before half time after Curtis Weston stole the ball off the toes of Will Haining in the centre of midfield before advancing forward with the Macclesfield defence outnumbered and sliding in John Akinde. However, despite poking the ball past Rhys Taylor and slotting into an empty net his celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag.
Martin Allen made a change at half-time by bringing Lee Cook on in place of Jon Nurse, and his side where straight on the front foot as Mauro Vilhete drew a smart save from the keeper with a left-footed volley less than a minute after the restart.
However, Macclesfield came roaring back as substitute Paul Turnbull saw an acrobatic effort kept out with an equally spectacular save by Graham Stack.
The goalkeeper was powerless to stop the Silkmen taking the lead on 50 minutes however, as the Bees fell behind to a marvellous strike from Scott Barrow. Having taken aim just moments earlier with a shot that flew over the bar, the full-back made no mistake with his next effort as he sent a first-time shot rifling into the top corner from all of 35 yards.
Barnet responded by bringing Adam Mekki on for Mauro Vilhete, and the substitute went close to levelling the scores during a goalmouth scramble on the stroke of 60 minutes as Akinde and then he were denied by last-ditch blocks in the six-yard box.
With the visitors pressing for an equaliser the game was starting to open up, and Macclesfield ought to have stretched their lead shortly after the hour mark when Turnbull sliced a shot over from just 12 yards out with Barnet on the back foot.
Yet the hosts would not spurn the next opportunity that came their way, as Chris Holroyd doubled their advantage with a glancing header from Waide Fairhurst’s fine set-piece delivery from the right-hand touchline.
Once again Martin Allen responded with an attacking change, throwing on Luisma Villa in place of Jack Saville as Barnet switched to a 3-5-2 formation.
It quickly paid dividends as they pulled a goal back almost immediately after John Akinde continued his prolific run of form with a fifth goal in five games, powering home a header following a right-wing cross by Sam Togwell to reduce the deficit with just under a quarter of an hour remaining.
Barnet threw everything at the home side during the closing stages, piling forward and forcing a string of corners deep into four minutes of added time that even saw Graham Stack venture forward twice.
However, they were unable to force the equaliser that their efforts arguably deserved. Despite the defeat, Barnet stay three points clear at the top of the table ahead of the visit of Kidderminster Harriers to The Hive on Saturday.
Macclesfield Town: Rhys Taylor; Dan Cowan, Luke Waterfall, George Pilkington, Scott Barrow; Chris Holroyd, Paul Lewis, Will Haining (Paul Turnbull 43), David Gonzalez-Diaz, Arthur Gnahoua; Waide Fairhust.
Barnet FC: Graham Stack; Andy Yiadom, Bondz N’Gala, Jack Saville (Luisma Villa 71), Elliott Johnson; Jon Nurse (Lee Cook 46), Sam Togwell, Curtis Weston (c), Mauro Vilhete (Adam Mekki 54); John Akinde, Sam Hoskins.
Attendance: 1,209 (48 Barnet)