Barnet claimed their eighth away win of the season on Saturday, defeating Torquay United 2-1 at Plainmoor to extend their lead at the top of the Vanarama Conference to nine points.
A first goal of the season for Mauro Vilhete followed by a John Akinde penalty in between a red card for either side were enough to give the Bees a 2-0 lead after a frenetic first period, with Torquay only managing to strike back during five minutes of stoppage time at the end of the second half.
Ahead of the game Martin Allen made just one change to the side that beat Macclesfield at The Hive last week, with Mauro Vilhete replacing Luisma Villa, sidelined with a back complaint, on the right side of midfield.
Meanwhile, Jack Saville continued in the heart of the Bees’ defence alongside Bondz N’Gala with David Stephens named amongst the substitutes.
Barnet enjoyed the better of a lively opening to the game, although Louis Briscoe – scorer of two goals at The Hive when the two sides met last month – did force a good save from Graham Stack on twelves minutes with a volley after showing good skill to loop the ball over the defender.
It did little slow the Bees momentum however, as they took another early lead after a quarter of an hour with a well-worked goal. Akinde won the ball in the final third before poking the ball beyond the defender for Mauro Vilhete to run on to, as the winger showed superb composure to ghost beyond a challenge before curling the ball into the top corner.
Barnet were looking increasingly dangerous going forward, and prised open the Gulls’ defence again on 25 minutes as Martin Rice was forced to race out of goal and bring down Akinde, receiving a yellow card for his troubles as the covering defenders saved him from harsher punishment.
It was the Bees who were reduced to ten men six minutes later however, as Bondz N’Gala was adjudged by the referee to have been the last man following a long consultation with his linesman, after the defender had brought down Louis Briscoe just outside the box.
Thankfully for Barnet the resulting free kick came to nothing, as Martin Allen threw on David Stephens in place of Charlie MacDonald to fill the void at the back as the Bees looked to regroup.
As it turned out, they were not at a numerical disadvantage for very long as an off-the-ball incident between Aaron Downes and Akinde in the box resulted in the central defender seeing red and Barnet being awarded a penalty.
The Bees’ number nine soon picked himself up to slot away the penalty for his eighteenth goal of the season to double the visitors’ lead as both sides found themselves down to ten men.
Torquay responded by making an enforced change of their own with defender Angus MacDonald replacing Briscoe as the first half drew to a close with five minutes of additional time at the end of an action-packed first half.
The hosts threw everything at Barnet during the opening stages of the second half and threw on striker Duane Ofori-Acheampong, but they struggled to break down the Bees’ well-organised defence who kept them at bay but for a succession of corners.
David Hunt offered extra protection in the midfield after replacing Lee Cook on the hour mark, helping to ensure that the Gulls were unable to convert their possession into chances.
In fact it was Barnet who went closest to finding the net on 68 minutes after an Akinde flick-on set up a counter attack. Curtis Weston tried to play a one-two with the striker, but after seeing his through-ball cut out decided to strike at goal with a first-time shot that cracked back against the near post.
Barnet soon made their final change with twenty minutes remaining, withdrawing Akinde as player-coach Jon Nurse took over the lone striker role. He would not see out the game however, as a rash tackle by Angus MacDonald out by the touchline – for which the defender was shown a yellow card – forced him off with a few minutes remaining.
Torquay piled forward during five minutes of added time, and with the Bees down to nine the pressure eventually told as Courtney Richards fired in from outside the box off the underside of the bar.
It mattered not, as Barnet successfully negotiated the final few minutes to hang on to a valuable win that stretched their lead at the top by an extra point and sent the Bees fans home happy, with the entire squad going over to celebrate with the 115 travelling supporters at the final whistle.
Next up for Barnet is an FA Trophy first round tie away to Concord Rangers on Saturday, before resuming Conference duties with a game at home to Chester the following weekend.
Torquay United: Martin Rice; Durrell Berry, Krystian Pearce, Aaron Downes, Levi Ives; Toby Ajala, Courtney Richards, Luke Young (c), Jordan Chapell (Ashley Yeoman 64); Louis Briscoe (Angus MacDonald 44), Ryan Bowman (Duane Ofori-Acheampong 49).
Barnet FC: Graham Stack; Andy Yiadom, Bondz N’Gala, Jack Saville, Elliott Johnson; Mauro Vilhete, Sam Togwell, Curtis Weston, Lee Cook (David Hunt 58); John Akinde (Jon Nurse 69), Charlie MacDonald (c) (David Stephens 33).
Attendance: 1,933 (115 Barnet)