John Akinde’s second-half penalty gave ten-man Barnet a point which they more than deserved from a 1-1 draw at Carlisle United in EFL League Two.
Even after Simeon Akinola’s straight red card in the 66th minute the Bees carved out a number of chances first equalising and then going close to a dramatic late winner.
In the event it was not to be but Barnet had the better of the goalscoring opportunities at Brunton Park against the third-place Cumbrians.
The home side took the lead after 29 minutes when Charlie Wyke stabbed home but the Bees set off on the long journey home thanks to Akinde’s 19th goal of the season.
There were four changes from the side frustratingly held to a goalless draw at home to Newport County last weekend with new signings Charlie Clough and Luke Coulson handed their full debuts.
Ruben Bover, signed on Friday, travelled up with the squad yesterday but was not included as he was not yet eligible.
Curtis Weston and Jack Taylor missed out with minor injuries picked up in the week, while Harry Taylor and Nana Kyei dropped to the bench.
Jamal Campbell-Ryce and Tom Champion were the other players returning to the starting XI. Bira Dembele was back among the subs following a calf problem.
Carlisle boss Keith Curle was still able to call upon striker Wyke – subject of a reported £250,000 bid from Bradford City – and it was he who made the difference in the first half.
Barnet had more chances and better chances. Yet it was the Cumbrians who went in ahead when Wyke poked home from point-blank range in the 29th minute.
The Bees had a string of corners in the first half and from one debutant Clough got up highest to meet Campbell-Ryce’s delivery but could not beat Carlisle keeper Mark Gillespie.
The other debutant, Coulson, tried his luck after 20 minutes, dragging a low shot wide after Ricardo Santos’ free-kick from deep dropped invitingly outside the box.
Santos then connected with a free-kick with his head, earning another Barnet corner. From the second phase the ball popped up at Michael Nelson’s feet. The skipper shot left footed but could only win another flag kick.
But the Bees were left to rue those misses just before the half-hour mark when Carlisle went ahead. A free-kick from the left was not dealt with and, after the ball had struck the left-hand post, Wyke stabbed home.
Barnet nearly responded immediately with Akinde latching onto a long ball forward. But the Bees’ top scorer could not beat Gillespie after going through one-v-one.
Nelson connected with the resulting corner but it was Akinde who got the final touch, nodding agonisingly over with Gillespie stranded.
The Bees had the final chance of the first period just before the break, Akinde going through once more only to find Gillespie in his way for a second time.
Carlisle made a change at half time, bringing winger Reggie Lambe on for centre-back Shaun Brisley.
And it was Lambe who very nearly doubled the lead five minutes later, testing Josh Vickers with a curling effort which needed an outstretched palm to see it wide.
Moments earlier Vickers had been called into action to pluck Jabo Ibehre’s goal-bound header out of the air.
Chances were thin on the ground from there, with substitute Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro’s off-target header all the Bees had to show for their efforts.
With 25 minutes to go things went from bad to worse for Barnet when Akinola was sent off for connecting with Carlisle skipper Michael Raynes as he tried to clear.
Carlisle could and should have wrapped up the points eight minutes later. Nicky Adams swung an inviting ball in from the left-hand side but Ibehre – who scored the winner at The Hive London in September – could not connect at the far post.
But Barnet kept plugging away and, with 13 minutes remaining, drew level. Elliott Johnson burst into the box and was brought down by Tom Miller to earn the Bees a penalty.
Akinde took responsibility for the kick, firing past Gillespie into the right-hand corner of the net to equalise.
Back on level terms, Barnet went in search of a winner.
And they nearly found one five minutes from the end when Akpa Akpro fired in a first time shot that fell at the feet of Akinde. The usually reliable Bees number nine, however, scooped over from six yards. There was no offside flag to spare his blushes.
Carlisle piled on pressure during five minutes of injury time but never seriously tested Vickers as the Bees claimed a hard-fought point – the very least they deserved for their endeavours.
Next weekend the Bees are back at The Hive London with Mansfield Town our visitors in EFL League Two (3pm kick off).
Barnet: Vickers; Clough, Nelson (C), Santos, Johnson; Champion, Vilhete; Coulson (Akpa Akpro 56), Akinola, Campbell-Ryce (Kyei 64); Akinde.
Subs: McKenzie-Lyle (GK), Dembele, H. Taylor, Sweeney, Tutonda.
Carlisle United: Gillespie; T. Miller (S. Miller 83), Raynes (C), Brisley (Lambe HT), Gillesphey; Kennedy (Devitt 55), Liddle, Joyce, Adams; Ibehre, Wyke.
Subs: Crocombe (GK), McKee, Holt, McQueen.
Referee: Michael Salisbury.
Attendance: 4,547 (140 Barnet supporters).