A youthful Barnet side secured an impressive 1-0 win over an experienced Nuneaton Town on Saturday at the Sperrin Brewery Stadium.
Martin Allen made eight changes to the starting XI and after an edgy opening 45 the young Bees showed incredible promise as they systematically destroyed the home side’s defence with wave after wave of attack.
Iffy Allen and Harry Crawford both had opportunities soon after the break but were denied by James Belshaw who was unable to keep out Valentin Gjokaj’s 57th minute thunderbolt which was worthy of winning any match from Skrill Premier to Premier League.
Head-coach Allen predicted changes pre-match and he was spot on with David Stephens, Andy Yiadom and Gjokaj the only players to retain their place following last weekend’s 4-0 defeat to FC Halifax Town.
Iffy Allen, Jamal Lowe, Luke Gambin and Freddie Warren all came in as Allen opted to field a youthful side in the Bees final 3pm kick-off of the 2013/14 season.
The Bees made a bright start to the match and they were first to threaten as Lowe controlled the ball, turned his man and played in Gambin who ran the ball out of play.
With 15 minutes played the hosts had their first opportunity as Wes York shot straight at Nick Jupp from 20-yards before the Boro winger was clattered into by Sam Muggleton who was extremely lucky not to be carded.
Nuneaton rattled the crossbar with 28 minutes played as David Hibbert volleyed a fine effort against the woodwork but the linesman’s flag had already been raised to signal offside.
One minute later Iffy Allen burst into life nutmegging the full-back and driving into the box at pace only to see his low shot blocked away to safety.
With 35 minutes on the clock Muggleton was unable to escape the referee’s wrath for second time picking up a yellow card for a foul on Daniel Sleath.
From the resulting free-kick Boro caused havoc in the Barnet box as York whipped a ball across goal to the back post where the ever-present Stephens hooked the ball to safety.
After what can only be described as drab opening period the Bees came out like a bullet from the chamber creating chance after chance as Allen’s side went all-out-attack.
With 47 minutes played a trademark long throw from Muggleton caused problems in the box but goalkeeper James Belshaw was alert to deny Allen.
The Nuneaton stopper remained alert in the following moments as Crawford and Allen continued to pepper the Boro goal forcing a further three saves via five corners in quick succession.
Belshaw looked unbeatable at times but he was unable to prevent the Bees from taking the lead as the pressure finally told in stunning fashion as Gjokaj picked up the ball and thumped it into the top corner with 57 minutes played.
Head-coach Allen made changes soon after with the impressive Allen making way for Mauro Vilhete and Jamal Lowe departing for Luisma Villa whose return from injury lasted just 19 minutes with Connor Dymond replacing the Spaniard in the latter stages.
With 77 minutes played Nuneaton threatened for the first time in the second 45 as Gjokaj cleared the ball off the line before centre-back Gavin Cowan somehow guided the ball wide from just six-yards.
The final ten minutes saw Barnet control possession and frustrate their opponents who were unable to test Jupp as the Bees secured a full deserved three points.
Next up for Allen’s side is a return to The Hive on Monday for their final home fixture of the 2013/14 season against Braintree Town which is a 5.15pm kick-off.