Barnet returned to winning ways in the Vanarama Conference with a 2-0 victory over Nuneaton Town at Liberty Way on Saturday.
Two first-half goals from Charlie MacDonald were enough to wrap up the three points, the first coming from through an early penalty and the second a close-range finish from a corner, although the Bees’ captain would miss the chance to complete his hat-trick after having a second spot kick saved during the second half.
Martin Allen made just the one change to the side that lost to Lincoln City last time out, bringing Mauro Vilhete back in on the right side of midfield for Keanu Marsh-Brown.
Any fears of a lingering hangover from that defeat were quickly allayed as Barnet took the lead within eight minutes. Andy Yiadom raced in behind Nuneaton’s defence before seeing his cross blocked by the arm of Anton Brown, with Charlie MacDonald dispatching the spot kick into the bottom left-hand corner.
The Barnet skipper grabbed his second of the afternoon just three minutes later with what will surely prove to be his easiest goal of the season. Lee Cook’s pinpoint corner from the right found MacDonald completely unmarked at the back post, and after Reice Charles-Cook could only parry his initial effort, he was shot high into the net from just a yard out to make it 2-0.
The visitors were on a role, and came agonisingly close to making it 3-0 after just a quarter of an hour when, with the goalkeeper off his line, Lee Cook attempted a sublime chip that was cleared off the line by Gareth Dean.
Nuneaton quickly rallied however, and came close to pulling a goal back twice in quick succession. On 17 minutes a free-kick found Theo Streete at the back post but his header back across goal floated narrowly wide. Less than a minute late, the centre half went close again as he saw his cross from the right deflected onto the crossbar via the head of Lee Cook.
In truth, after such a frenetic start, the first half nearly slowed to a halt from that point onwards, with Barnet well in control and Nuneaton struggling to get a foothold as they searched for a way back into the game.
Barnet did enjoy a spell of pressure just before the interval with a string of four successive corners, one of which the goalkeeper had to tip onto the crossbar after another expert delivery from Lee Cook, but they were unable to convert their dominance into a third goal before the break.
It was the Bees who found themselves under pressure during the early stages of the second half, with Nuneaton using their considerable height and strength to cause the Bees defence a few problems with a succession of crosses into the box with Delroy Gordon going closest.
However, it was Barnet who went closest to scoring the first goal of the second half, when they won a second penalty through John Akinde on 65 minutes as a well weighted pass over the top from MacDonald allowed the striker to head goalwards and race through before being fouled in the box. The Barnet captain went the same way as the first, but was denied his hat-trick as Charles-Cooke produced a good save low
to his left to keep the penalty out.
He was replaced moment later by Keanu Marsh-Brown, with Sam Muggleton following him onto the pitch on 70 minutes in place of Lee Cook and Jamal Lowe coming on for John Akinde ten minutes later as Martin Allen looked to see the game out and keep his squad fresh for the visit of Dartford to The Hive on Monday.
Barnet were forced to withstand some late pressure as Nuneaton kept going until the final whistle, going closest through substitute Adam Walker who roamed forward before forcing Graham Stack into a good low save down to his left as the Bees held out to claim a comfortable victory and move up to fourth place in the Vanarama Conference.
Nuneaton Town: Reice Charles-Cooke; Gareth Dean, Delroy Gordon, Theo Streete; Connor Franklin, Jack Dyer (Adam Walker 60), Anton Brown, James Armson (Ryan Quinn 82), Jorrin John; Tyrell Waite, Andy Brown.
Barnet: Graham Stack; Elliott Johnson, Bondz N’Gala, David Stephens, Andy Yiadom; Lee Cook (Sam Muggleton 70), Sam Togwell, Curtis Weston, Mauro Vilhete; John Akinde (Jamal Lowe 82), Charlie MacDonald (c).