Charlie MacDonald says he’ll be disappointed not to score 20 goals this season and after netting both in Barnet’s 2-0 win at Nuneaton Town, the Bees captain is on track.
MacDonald’s double made it four in as many games since moving to The Hive in the summer and the 33-year-old could have finished with a hat-trick, had he not seen a second-half penalty saved.
The former Brentford hitman put the Bees ahead after eight minutes from the penalty spot, doubling up just five minutes later following slack marking at a corner kick.
Mauro Vilhete came back into the Barnet starting XI in place of Keanu Marsh-Brown, who dropped down to the bench in the only change from the side beaten by Lincoln City last weekend.
The Bees side was otherwise unchanged as Martin Allen picked the same side which started the 5-0 opening-day thrashing of Chester.
Luisma Villa, fresh from signing a new contract, was not included in the matchday squad, with Sam Cowler named amongst the substitutes for the first time this season.
Graham Stack, Andy Yiadom, David Stephens, Bondz N’Gala and Elliot Johnson continued their unbroken partnership at the back, with Sam Togwell, Curtis Weston and Lee Cook once more in midfield.
MacDonald was partnered up front by John Akinde once more.
Boro boss Brian Reid handed a second debut to new loan signing Tyrell Waite, whilst Delroy Gordon came into the back three in place of Gavin Cowan.
The hosts posed a threat for the first five minutes, with Waite slashing their best chance over the bar on the volley, before Barnet were awarded a penalty.
Yiadom’s marauding foray down the right-hand flank was rewarded with spot-kick after midfielder Anton Brown deliberately handled the full-back’s cross.
Skipper MacDonald made no mistake from 12 yards, steering low beyond Reice Charles-Cook to hand Barnet the perfect start.
Akinde could have doubled the Bees’ lead a couple of minutes later when he was put through on goal before testing Charles-Cook from the edge of the area.
The Bees did not have to wait long for a second, though, taking advantage of some slack defending from a corner to double their lead.
Cook’s corner from the right was allowed to float all the way to MacDonald at the far post and after seeing his initial effort kept out by Charles-Cook, the Barnet number ten made no mistake at the second attempt.
Former Fulham winger Cook almost added a sumptuous third shortly after, picking up a loose ball from an acute angle before attempting a deft chip over the stranded Charles-Cook; Gareth Dean heading clear on the line.
Reid’s side created two good chances of their own in response, though.
First Theo Streete heading agonizingly wide of the far post from an in-swinging free-kick and then Cook nodded a Streete delivery against the face of the Barnet crossbar and away to safety.
At that stage the game had echoes of Chester on the opening day about it but the Bees – whilst in complete control – failed to turn the screw as the half ground to a close.
Nuneaton began the second half with more intent than they’d ended the first, going close when Andy Brown crashed a half-volley over from 30 yards with the aid of a deflection.
From the resulting corner, the hosts earned a free-kick which was flicked on by Anton Brown on into the palms of the underworked Graham Stack.
Barnet won another penalty in the 65th minute; Akinde raced onto a ball forward before cutting inside only to be felled.
Bidding for his hat-trick, MacDonald took aim for the same corner as his successful first effort but was denied by Charles-Cook, who guessed correctly.
The Bees came close once more a couple of minutes later, Yiadom bursting into the penalty area before selflessly clipping across goal for the onrushing Vilhete, who was boxed out by the covering Boro defender.
Substitute Marsh-Brown was next to try his luck, dancing into the penalty area before drawing a fine low stop from Charles-Cook at his near post. From the follow-up, Akinde again tested the former Arsenal gloveman with a firmly-struck side-footed effort.
The Boro refused to give up and caused a couple of late scares, none more so than when Dan Walker forced a fine low stop from Stack, with N’Gala tidying up before Waite to attempt a follow-up.
However the hosts could not reduce the arrears as Barnet closed out the win to move up to fourth.
Nuneaton Town: Charles-Cook; Dean, Gordon, Streete; John, Armson (Quinn 84), Ant. Brown, Dyer (Walker 60), Franklin; Waite, And. Brown.
Subs: Vieira, Hutchinson, Wren (GK).
Barnet: Stack; Yiadom, N'Gala, Stephens, Johnson; Vilhete, Weston, Togwell, Cook (Muggleton 70); MacDonald (Marsh-Brown 65), Akinde (Lowe 84).
Subs: Cowler (GK), Saville.
Referee: Mr Lee Swabey.