The Barnet FC Youth Team recorded a thrilling 6-3 victory over Watford at London Colney on Saturday, with Mathew Stevens scoring a spectacular haul of five goals.
Despite having two players sent off, the Bees were able to record an emphatic victory that takes them to the top of the Football League Youth Alliance table.
Stevens helped Barnet take a 2-0 lead inside 25 minutes, first taking advantage of a through ball by Nana Kyei before finishing from close range following a neat one-two between Tamille Roache and Elliott Harris.
Harris then made it three shortly after the half-hour mark with a neat near-post finish following some good combination play with Jack Taylor down the left-hand side.
Their momentum was halted two minutes before the interval when Watford countered from a Barnet corner following a slip by Brendan Ocran, with Roache seeing red for a foul as the last man.
Despite being reduced to ten men, Henry Newman and Ross Eames made the bold decision to switch to a 3-4-2 formation at half-time, bringing on Charlie Kennedy and Hakeen Odofin in place of Ocran and Kyei as they looked to maintain the pressure on Watford’s defence.
The hosts did pull a goal back on 55 minutes but Barnet responded immediately, with Stevens coolly slotting home to complete his hat-trick following an excellent through ball by Jack Taylor.
Barnet suffered another setback with quarter of an hour remaining when an under hit back-pass by Joe Gater led to keeper Kai McKenzie-Lyle committing a foul in the penalty area. Despite the fact that the attacker was going away from goal, the referee decided to brandish another red card.
Jake Knight, the centre forward who had made his comeback from a year out with injury just five minutes earlier as a substitute was forced to take over goalkeeping responsibilities, but he was unable to prevent Watford making it 4-2 from the spot.
The Hornets then made it 4-3 with ten minutes remaining after a corner had dropped in the box, but Barnet quickly rallied as their nine men showed incredible work rate to cover the ground and make their tackles.
It was this effort that led to the Bees stretching their lead on 83 minutes, as Stevens beat the goalkeeper to a back-pass before lobbing him from an angle as he desperately tried to track back.
With just one minute left on the clock Stevens wrapped up the victory with his fifth of the game, tapping home Jack Taylor’s pass after the midfielder had been released by a back-heel in the corner from Keir Dickson.
The Youth Team have now won 16 points from their first seven games of the season and sit on top of the table, two points ahead of Peterborough United in second who visit The Hive on Friday with a kick-off time of 14:00.