Lee Cook's debut double means Barnet are the Conference's early leaders following a 5-0 win at ten-man Chester

Picture: Action Images

Picture: Action Images

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Lee Cook’s double helped ruthless Barnet thrash ten-man Chester 5-0 and move top of the Conference table on the opening weekend of the season.

The Bees found themselves 3-0 up at half-time, with Andy Yiadom scoring before Danny Harrison was dismissed for the hosts. Cook and Charlie MacDonald then rubbed salt in the wounds before Graham Stack saved John Rooney’s penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Cook added his second after the break before substitute Keanu Marsh-Brown slid home the fifth shortly after his introduction.

Martin Allen sprung a surprise by starting with Mauro Vilhete on the right-hand side of midfield in place Marsh-Brown. Bondz N’Gala, Sam Togwell, John Akinde, Cook and MacDonald were all handed their Bees debuts.

For Chester, Steve Burr elected to start in a 4-3-3 formation, with Craig Hobson leading the line, flanked by Craig Mahon and Peter Winn.

The hosts carved out the game’s first chance inside 30 seconds, Rooney winning a free-kick between the left-hand side of the penalty area and the touchline.

Rooney then curled the set piece into the far post where skipper Matty Brown headed into the side netting.

A minute later, the Bees took the lead through an unlikely source with their first chance of note.

Good work down the right from Vilhete released Yiadom, who burst into the Chester penalty area and took advantage of a lack of pressure to drive beyond Jon Worsnop and into the bottom right-hand corner from 12 yards.

Chester nearly levelled immediately but Barnet were indebted to Elliott Johnson on the line.

Kingsley James made some room inside the Barnet penalty area before driving across goal, where Mahon looked set to stab home, only for Johnson to block on the line.

In the 14th minute, things went from bad to worse for the Blues, who were reduced to ten men.

Harrison and debutant Togwell both launched themselves into a 50:50 challenge, with the Barnet man coming off worse. After giving himself a few seconds to think, referee Steven Rushton sent off Harrison, much to the surprise and frustration of his team-mates.

Barnet doubled their lead after 20 minutes, Cook marking his full Barnet debut witth a well-taken goal.

The former Fulham man manufactured some room just inside the Chester penalty area before nonchalantly placing beyond Worsnop and into the far corner of the hosts’ net.

Captain MacDonald opened his Bees’ account shortly after the half-hour mark when strike partner John Akinde won a penalty for the visitors.

Chasing a ball over the top, the former Alfreton man took a heavy touch as he progressed into the penalty area. The miscontrol favoured Akinde, though, as Worsnop brought the Barnet number nine down for a penalty as the angle deserted him.

From 12 yards, MacDonald planted his penalty past Worsnop with ease to put the Bees 3-0 up.

On the stroke of half-time, the Blues were awarded a penalty of their own when Rooney’s ferocious free-kick was judged to have been handled deliberately by Vilhete in the wall.

Rooney stepped up to take the penalty but was denied superbly by the agile Stack, who got down to his right to block and preserve his clean sheet heading into the break.

Burr's side would rue the miss as they went on to concede two more goals in the second half.

It took just seven second-half minutes for the Bees to extend their lead further, with Cook doubling up for the afternoon.

The menacing Akinde made progress down the left before cutting back for Cook to place beyond Worsnop with his right foot.

Substitute Marsh-Brown waited just three minutes to mark his introduction with a goal and make his point to head coach Allen. After collecting a pass, the winger held off Chester’s veteran defender, Gareth Roberts, before dragging the ball low past Worsnop and in at the far post.

Stack was forced into a rare save in the 66th minute, reacting smartly to push Rooney’s 25-yard free-kick over for a corner.

After a quick Barnet breakaway broke down, Mahon brought the best out of Stack once more, the Bees player-coach flinging himself full-length across his goal to push Mahon’s curling effort wide.

In the 72nd minute, Akinde was denied a brilliant first goal in Barnet colours by a deflection. Johnson scampered down the left before cross for Akinde to fire narrowly over with a perfectly-struck half volley.

Akinde’s quest for a debut goal continued in the final minutes, Worsnop denying the powerful hitman one-on-one from an acute angle late on.

As the game wound down, the Bees took their foot off the gas and saw the game by stroking the ball around.

Tuesday night’s visit from recently relegated Bristol Rovers will provide a much sterner test of Barnet’s promotion credentials.

Chester: Worsnop; Taylor (Menagh 58), Brown, Charnock, Roberts; Harrison, Rooney, James; Mahon, Hobson (McConville 78), Winn (Iwelumo 58).

Subs: Hall (GK), Disney.

Barnet: Stack; Yiadom, Stephens, N’Gala (Saville 54), Johnson; Vilhete (Marsh-Brown 54), Weston, Togwell, Cook (Luisma 58); MacDonald, Akinde.

Subs: Muggleton, Nurse.

Attendance: 2,514

Referee: Steven Rushton

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