Barnet will rue several missed chances as they performed excellently, only to lose 2-1 against promotion hopefuls Crawley Town.

Barnet dominated the first half and deservedly went ahead as Ricky Holmes fired in from close range.

In a closer second period Crawley fought back and goals from John Dempster and Scott Davies claimed victory for Town, but Sergio Torres was dismissed for the Reds late on.

Bees striker Ben May, an ever present since joining on loan in March, missed the clash due to a hamstring injury. Sead Hajrovic started in his place in defence with Clovis Kamdjo moving into midfield. Ricky Holmes played just off Izale McLeod.

Crawley began the game well and Dean Brill stopped a Billy Clarke effort in the opening minute.

From the resulting corner the visitors thought they had gone in front as Dempster headed home.

Fortunately for the Bees referee Andy Haines ruled out the effort.

Barnet began to gain some control on the game and Holmes fired an effort over after good work from McLeod.

The duo combined again minutes later and this time it led to the opening goal.

McLeod received the ball and did well to avoid two challenges to get a shot on goal. It wasn’t the most powerful strike but Michel Kuipers could only palm the effort back into the path of Holmes who smashed in.

Barnet continued to create chances as Crawley found it difficult to contain Holmes.

Holmes had another good opportunity to double his, and the Bees, tally as a slip from Dean Howell allowed him in on goal. He chose to shoot instead of passing to McLeod and was denied by a good stop from Kuipers.

Lawrie Sanchez’s men pressed the Crawley side throughout the opening 45 minutes and should have doubled their lead through Mark Byrne.

Again good work from Holmes led to Bryne firing a shot towards the far corner only to be denied by a fantastic stop from Kuipers.

The Reds stopper also did well to deny McLeod before Kamdjo fired wide from a tight angle.

Crawley looked nothing like promotion candidates in the first period and the only complaint for Barnet will be that they didn’t go in ahead at the break more than just one goal ahead.

There were two changes for the visitors at the start of the second half. Josh Simpson and Davies replaced Sanchez Watt and Lloyd James.

Barnet picked up where they left off at the beginning of the second period and Holmes again forced Kuipers into a good save.

However, the cliché of not taking your chances when you’re on top rang true as Crawley levelled from a corner.

Sanchez will be disappointed with the marking as Clarke's cross found Dempster unmarked and he placed his header into the far corner.

The goal didn’t affect Barnet’s attacking threat and another good opportunity fell for McLeod. The striker controlled a pass from Sam Deering before shooting wide.

But, as so often has been the case this season, Barnet were made to pay for their missed opportunities as Crawley took the lead.

There wasn’t much on when Davies collected the ball but he sent a shot towards goal. It probably wouldn’t have troubled Brill but the ball took a deflection and curled into the corner.

The Bees nearly levelled soon after as McLeod smashed a half volley against the crossbar.

Barnet’s threat had slightly diminished after going behind but only a good stop from Kuipers denied Michael Hector.

In the dying moments of the game Torres was dismissed for challenge on Clovis Kamdjo and Sanchez responded immediately by introducing Scott McGleish for Paul Downing.

The veteran striker nearly made an instant impact as a McLeod cross was turned towards goal only to be cleared off the line.

Byrne retrieved the ball and sent a pass in low. McGleish again poked the ball forward but his effort was smashed off the line.

Barnet continued to pile on the pressure in the closing moments and Hector was denied by a brilliant save.

The final kick of the game should have seen Barnet equalise. A long punt forward from Deering dropped to McLeod. The striker managed to keep the ball down but his attempt rolled wide with the goal gaping.

It was a cruel defeat for the Bees who outplayed their opponents for the majority of the contest.

Barnet face Hereford United on Friday at Underhill.

Barnet: Brill, Hajrovic, Hector, Downing, Mustoe; Byrne, Hughes, Kamdjo, Deering; McLeod, Holmes.

Barnet substitutes: O’Brien, Vilhete, McGleish, N’Diaye, Saville.

Crawley Town: Kuipers; James, Cummings, Dempster, Howell; Clarke, Bulman, Akpan, Torres; Watt, Alexander.

Crawley Town substitutes: Shearer, L.Clarke, Neilson, Simpson, Davies.

Attendance: 2,099 (551).