The secret is out: Lee Cook is too good for this level. The Barnet winger was instrumental in the Bees’ win over Dartford this afternoon, scoring a hat-trick off the bench.
Akinde scored the Bees’ opener three minutes before the break, with Cook netting twice in 11 second-half minutes to take the game out of Dartford’s reach.
The former Fulham and Queens Park Rangers winger came close twice before completing his treble, eventually applying the gloss with an 85th minute penalty.
Winless Dartford had made the match a contest until Akinde converted from close range but once Cook had grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck, it was always a case of ‘how many?’ for the rampant Bees.
There were three changes to the Barnet side which beat Nuneaton Town 2-0 on Saturday; with Adam Mekki making his debut and Luisma Villa and Jack Saville both making their first starts of the season.
Out went Mauro Vilhete, Cook and Elliot Johnson as Martin Allen shuffled his pack.
Graham Stack started in goal, with Andy Yiadom, Bondz N’Gala and David Stephens remaining.
In midfield, Sam Togwell and Curtis Weston continued in the centre, whilst up front, Akinde and Charlie MacDonald were paired together once more.
For Dartford, former Barnet forward Harry Crawford started on the bench, with the Darts making two changes.
Barnet started the brighter of the two sides and in teaming rain, almost got fortunate as the first chance of note fell their way.
Defender Rory McAuley – already in the book for a challenge on Yiadom – slipped in the penalty area and allowed Akinde to pick up the loose ball and cut back for MacDonald, who could not quite turn and divert beyond Jason Brown.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between, with the Bees struggling to make the ball stick in the final third.
Yiadom had a presentable chance after 21 minutes, cutting inside from a corner before dragging a low, left-footed effort into the palms of Brown.
The Darts responded by creating their best opening; Andy Pugh driving into the Barnet penalty area before shooting tamely at Stack from an unfavourable angle.
Debutant Mekki had a good penalty claim shortly before the half-hour mark when barged to the floor by McAuley. Referee Mr Richard Martin was unmoved, though.
Seconds later, Luisma tested former Wales international Brown, crashing a half-volley towards the bottom corner from the edge of the area, which was deflected wide for a corner.
The chances were starting to come with more frequency as Barnet improved, Akinde dragging wide of the far post after a good pass from Luisma put him through.
Two minutes before the break, Barnet took the lead in scrappy fashion.
A corner was swung in from the left to the back post and knocked back into the middle where Akinde was on hand to prod home for the Bees.
Dartford carved out one good opportunity before the break, Tom Bradbrook testing Stack when one-on-one, with the Bees custodian coming out on top.
Cook was introduced at half-time in place of Mekki and the winger had the desired impact just three minutes after his arrival.
Patient progress down the left from Akinde saw the big forward pick out the Bees number 11 with a considered pass, the experienced winger controlling exquisitely before directing low past Brown into the bottom corner.
The visitors almost pulled one back immediately, Bradbrook flicking a header towards goal from a free-kick which required the alert Stack to deflect it over for a corner.
Barnet did not have to wait long for a third, Cook doubling up to take his Bees’ tally to four goals, 11 minutes after his first of the afternoon.
If the first owed something to the vision of Akinde, then the second owed a similar debt to the selflessness and vision of Luisma, who after being picked out cleverly by MacDonald, looked up and found the unmarked Cook on the far side of the penalty area.
The winger took a touch to control before drilling low past Brown and into the exact same spot as his first.
Cook could have completed his hat-trick with ten minutes remaining, latching onto Luke Gambin’s pass before testing Brown with a low effort which had been destined for the same corner as his two strikes.
The Cook show was completed with five minutes remaining when Gambin’s surging run into the18-yard box resulted in a Bees’ penalty.
Up stepped the in-form wideman, who made minimal fuss of placing beyond former Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper Brown to score his fifth in as many matches.
Barnet: Stack; Yiadom, N'Gala, Stephens, Saville; Luisma (Gambin 67), Togwell, Weston, Mekki (Cook HT); Akinde, MacDonald (Marsh-Brown 60).
Subs: Muggleton, Nurse.
Dartford: Brown; Collier, Mitchel-King, McAuley, Green; Noble (Hayes 78), E. Bradbrook, Cornhill (Sweeney 58), Daley; Pugh (Craswford 67), T. Bradbrook.
Subs: Ibrahim (GK), Harris.
Referee: Mr Richard Martin.