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Valentin Gjokaj's second half stunner is enough for a much-changed Barnet to see off Nuneaton Town
Valentin Gjokaj's stunner was enough for a much-changed Barnet side to overcome Nuneaton Town this afternoon.
The Derby County loanee opened the scoring in spectacular fashion after 57 minutes, crashing home from distance.
Martin Allen made eight changes to the side beaten by Halifax Town last weekend with only the defensive trio of Andy Yiadom, David Stephens and Gjokaj surviving.
Both sides started slowly, feeling their way into the game, with Barnet's most dangerous moment coming when a long ball toward Luke Gambin forced Town goalkeeper James Belshaw out to the edge of his area to punch clear.
Wesley York had the game's first effort on target after 13 minutes, progressing to the edge of Barnet's 18 yard box before shooting tamely in Nick Jupp's palms.
Sam Muggleton was fortune to not only stay on the field but avoid a caution altogether when he went through York at knee height on the halfway line.
From the resulting free kick, Nuneaton had the best chance of the first half an hour when Dave Hibbert crashed a half volley against the crossbar from 18 yards. The offside flag had already been raised against the former Peterborough man however.
Hibbert had Jupp at full stretch again after 36 minutes, deftly guiding a header towards the back post which Jupp was able to hold.
Louis Moult tried his luck five minutes before the break, shooting comfortably into Jupp's grasp from 25 yards.
Within two second half minutes Harry Crawford came as close as any Barnet player had before the break, thrashing against a Boro defender and seeing his shot loop just over the bar.
From the resulting corner, Iffy Allen tested Belshaw at his near post with a firmly-struck effort.
Crawford came closer still from Barnet's third successive corner, Belshaw reacting quickly to push the forward's half-volley over.
The Bees carved out another chance a minute later, Gambin motoring down the left before fizzing across the 18 yard box too hard for either Crawford or Allen to connect.
Barnet deservedly took the lead in the 57th minute in stunning fashion, Gjokaj collecting the ball 20 yards from goal and pinging past Belshaw.
After the goal the Bees were in control without threatening Nuneaton, who had been unable to break down Barnet's rearguard.
On one of the few occasions they did, goalscorer Gjokaj acrobatically denied Boro substitute Andy Brown on the line with a flying clearance.
With less than ten minutes left, Nuneaton almost forced an equaliser, Gavin Cowan contriving to prod wide after a free kick was flicked into his path six yards from goal.
Nuneaton continued to press for an equaliser as the minutes ticked away, Theo Streete flicking a header wide from a corner when well placed.
In injury time Muggleton ventured forward and tried his luck, but the full-back could only loft a left-footed effort into Belshaw's palms as Barnet held on for the win.
Barnet: Jupp; Yiadom, Gjokaj, Stephens (c), Muggleton; Gambin, Warren, Abdulla, Allen (Vilhete 59); Lowe (Villa 59 (Dymond 79)) & Crawford.
Not used: Nurse, Dymod & Barnes (GK).
Nuneaton Town: Belshaw; Magri, Dean (c), Cowan, Streete; York (Taylor 57), Walker, Trainer (Cranston 72), Sleath (Brown 59); Moult & Hibbert.
Not used: Gordon & Eve (GK).
Bookings: Muggleton (33); Sleath (54); Gjokaj (83).
Referee: Mr S Bennett
Attendance: 852 (77 Barnet)
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