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Charlie MacDonald's strike after half an hour gives Barnet their first win of pre-season
Charlie MacDonald scored the only goal of the game to give Barnet a thoroughly-deserved first win of pre-season against Stevenage.
Trialist MacDonald handed the Bees the lead in the 30th minute, demonstrating all of his Football League experience in planting into the bottom corner from just inside the penalty area.
Martin Allen included two familiar trialists in the Bees squad; goalkeeper Sam Cowler, who made three appearances during the 2012/13 season, and Bondz N'Gala, who featured six times whilst on loan from Stevenage in the latter part of the campaign.
Former Watford and Queens Park Rangers midfielder Gavin Mahon was once again included in the starting XI, though Will Antwi was not included in the matchday squad.
The first chance went the Bees’ way, Graham Stack launching a clearance into the path of John Akinde, who outmuscled his marker with ease before rushing his shot and slamming wide from 20 yards.
Akinde saw another chance go begging just three minutes later when he nodded Keanu Marsh-Brown’s perfectly-weighted cross over at the back post.
Stevenage’s first opportunity came when summer signing Tom Pett created enough room down the right hand side to sit up a cross for Chris Whelpdale, who promptly nodded narrowly over at the near post.
An injury to Stevenage defender Ronnie Henry following a challenge from Marsh-Brown saw a several minute delay and took some of the flow out of the game upon the restart.
Barnet took the lead on the half-hour mark after good play from Elliott Johnson, who had been pushed forward into a more advance left midfield role.
Johnson showed good presence of mind to hold off his marker before offloading to MacDonald on the outside of him, the 33-year-old placing beyond Chris Day and into the bottom corner from the left-hand side of the penalty area.
The Bees had been the better of the two sides in the first half and followed Allen’s constant instruction to pass to the letter, deservedly taking a 1-0 lead into the break.
MacDonald nearly added to his tally shortly after the restart but the ball would not quite run for the former Brentford forward after a Marsh-Brown shot deflected into his path.
Johnson continued to revel in his left midfield role and almost provided the ammunition for Curtis Weston to double the lead; the energetic midfielder denied by Day at close-range.
From the resulting corner, Jack Saville flashed a header narrowly wide as the hosts continued to pile on the pressure.
A succession of corners failed to yield a goal for the Bees, who were enjoying a sustained period of control before ten substitutions just after the hour.
The sheer volume of change disrupted the flow initially – much as it had done against Peterborough on Saturday – but Luisma Villa saw a dipping volley drop narrowly wide after Day’s near post shortly after his introduction.
Barnet came agonizingly close to a second five minutes before the end, with the lively Villa creator-in-chief once more.
A searching pass from the Spaniard found Jamal Lowe on the far side of the Stevenage penalty area and the young forward controlled before chipping to the back post for Ahmed Abdulla to guide against the underside of the bar. George Sykes could not convert from close-range with the follow-up as Stevenage survived.
Borough came as close as they had at the death, Roarie Deacon seeing his low effort blocked away for a corner by David Stephens – the only player to play the full 90 minutes for the Bees.
Barnet: Stack (Cowler 64); Yiadom (Abdulla 64, T), Stephens, Saville (N’Gala 64), Muggleton (Nurse); Marsh-Brown (Gambin 64), Weston (Sheriff 64, T), Mahon (T) (Vilhete 64), Johnson (Villa 64); MacDonald (T) (Sykes 64) & Akinde (Lowe 64).
Stevenage: Day; Henry (N’Guessan 21), Ashton (Worley 64), Wells, Dembele; Pett (Gordon 71), Whelpdale (Beardsley 74), Lee (Johnson 71), Deacon; Charles (Okenabirhie 64) & Calcutt.
Subs not used: Beasant (GK), Bond, Zola.
Referee: Mr D Rock.