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Barnet climb to third after impressive display at Forest Green Rovers secures fifth consecutive win
Barnet made it five consecutive wins since Uli Landvreugd and Dick Schreuder took permanent charge and tonight’s 2-1 victory at Forest Green Rovers saw the Bees climb to third in the Skrill Premier.
The Bees got off to the perfect start as Mark Byrne opened the scoring after just 18 seconds and the visitors extended their lead before the break through Dani Lopez.
Barnet were relatively comfortable for most of the match - and played some superb football following the restart – but after a few scares late on, Marcus Kelly reduced the deficit to 2-1 with a superb free-kick deep into injury-time.
It was an impressive display from the Bees; with several of the Forest Green fans around the press box describing Barnet as “the Swansea City of the Conference” and “the best footballing side to visit The New Lawn all season”.
Barnet made three changes to their XI as Mauro Vilhete returned at left back, with Elliot Johnson making way, Ahmed Abdulla came into the midfield and Lopez at right forward, with Charlie Adams and Keanu-Marsh Brown also dropping out.
The Bees got off to the perfect start as they scored within 20 seconds. Curtis Weston’s shot was blocked to Kieron Cadogan and he picked out Byrne whose first-time finish from ten yards found the bottom corner.
With the likes of Lee Hughes and Al Bangura in the Rovers side, it was no surprise that there was an edge to the contest.
Vilhete, who was impressive, forced Sam Russell to save early on with a long-range effort but after that, there were no more clear-cut chances for a 20-minute period.
The Bees were rarely troubled by the home side in the opening quarter but David Stephens did need to make an important interception when Hughes’ low delivery looked set to reach Danny Wright midway through the half.
Forest Green improved as the half wore on. Jared Hodgkiss tried his luck from distance, firing over, and Barnet goalkeeper Nick Jupp was forced to parry a dangerous Kelly free-kick out for a corner.
But Barnet extended their lead three minutes before the break after a lovely, flowing team move ended with Lopez heading in a cross by Cadogan from the right wing.
They almost added a third as the fourth official raised his board indicating one minute of additional time. Russell was unable to hold Keanu-Brown’s powerful shot from the corner of the area and Barnet would have scored from the rebound had Dale Bennett not made a last-ditch block.
The Bees’ midfield trio of Abdulla, Byrne and the superb Weston outplayed their Forest Green counterparts, which included a former Premier League player in Bangura.
Some of Barnet’s play in the second half was scintillating. They moved the ball with confidence and composure on a pitch which at times made that difficult.
Vilhete cut in and fired a shot over from the corner of the area and Byrne had a bicycle kick saved at the near post.
Forest Green did have a penalty appeal turned down midway through the half when Hughes took a delayed tumble following a tackle by Andy Yiadom but referee Simon Bennett said no.
Barnet had been comfortable defensively for most of the match but the home side had three good chances in quick succession as Rovers laid siege to the Bees’ goal.
Hughes beat Jupp with a shot from ten yards only for Stephens to clear yards from his line, Barnet needed to scramble the ball away moments later as Yan Klukowski was set to shoot and Eddie Oshodi headed narrowly wide from a corner.
The visitors regained some composure with five minutes remaining and almost grabbed a fourth when Keanu-Brown created space to shoot only for his effort to be blocked.
Forest Green grabbed a goal back deep into injury-time through a stunning Kelly free-kick but it was too little, too late.
Forest Green: Russell; Oshodi, Bennett, Oliver (Asafu-Adjaye 64), Hodgkiss; Norwood, Barry, Bangura (Klukowski 75), Norwood; Hughes, Wright (Viera 64).
Subs not used:White, Green.
Barnet: Jupp; Yiadom, Stephens, Gjokaj, Vilhete (Johnson 88); Abdulla, Byrne, Weston; Cadogan, Hyde (Marsh-Brown 24), Lopez (Mengerink 75).
Subs not used: Saville, Lowe.
Referee: Simon Bennett.
Attendance 869 (85 away).