Barnet’s inability to convert opportunities into goals cost them dear at the Hive with Cambridge United scoring from one of their few forays forward as they secured a 1-0 victory.
New Barnet boss Kevin Nugent kept faith with the players that had drawn with Portsmouth in the home match the week before; the exception being in goal where emergency loan signing Harry Burgoyne replaced the injured Josh Vickers.
With the blustery conditions in Barnet’s favour, the 20-year-old keeper on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers was a spectator for much of the first period with most of the play confined to Cambridge’s half.
The Bees were the first to threaten when a neat pass from Mauro Vilhete set Simeon Akinola in on goal. The ex-Braintree striker was reluctant to shoot with his left foot though, and the opportunity went begging.
In the 12th minute Barnet looked to have taken an early lead. A free-kick from the right by Ruben Bover found its way into the net at the far post only for referee Charles Breakspear to controversially blow for an infringement.
John Akinde, with a trademark surge forward, was then fouled by Leon Legge, who picked up a yellow card, with the Barnet top-scorer set fair to bear down on the Cambridge goal.
Akinde then had a header that went close and moments later he set up Curtis Weston, whose powerful shot was parried to safety.
Vilhete was delivering teasing centres into the danger area but Barnet’s forwards were either mis-timing their runs or were wayward with their efforts.
The game was scoreless at the break, but it was the visitors who were the happier as despite being under the cosh for the bulk of the first half, they knew the conditions would be in their favour in the second.
Vilhete had a very good opportunity to break the deadlock in the 50th minute but he was unable to find the back of the net with only Cambridge keeper Will Norris to beat.
After a period of sustained pressure the visitors took the lead in the 65th minute. The talented Harrison Dunk found space down the left flank and he pin-pointed his cross into the middle where Luke Berry made a good connection to fire past Burgoyne.
In response Jamal-Campbell Ryce was introduced from the bench, the hope being that his pace and close ball control could make inroads in the knowledge that the long ball approach would likely fall victim to the wind.
Ryce was quick to make an impact with a series of runs down the left and putting in good crosses.
Akinola shot wide when well positioned and Charlie Clough was unfortunate to see his drive saved by the feet of keeper Norris as the Bees sought an equaliser.
The final whistle was greeted with cheers from the large travelling Cambridge contingent, who acclaimed the U’s for their defensive resilience. Barnet fans, by contrast, were reflecting on what could have been had their team been ruthless in front of goal.
Barnet: Burgoyne, Clough, Nelson, Santos, Johnson, Vilhete, Bover (Campbell-Ryce 71), Champion, Weston, Akinola (Amaluzor 81), Akinde. Subs not used: Dembele, H Taylor, Coulson, McKenzie-Lyle, Sweeney.