Two goals from Jamie Cureton condemned Barnet to their tenth game without a win this season as Exeter City sealed a narrow 2-1 victory over the Bees at the Underhill Stadium.
Mark Robson’s side remain rooted to the foot of League Two despite a spirited fight back which nearly saw the home side steal a late point.
With first choice goalkeepers Graham Stack suspended and Liam O’Brien struggling with a hernia problem, Robson handed a debut start to 19-year-old goalkeeper Sam Cowler.
The novice stopper had plenty of time to settle his nerves though as the opening exchanges were full of misplaced passes and heavy touches on a wet and greasy surface.
Kicking down the Underhill slope Barnet created the first opportunity in the ninth minute on the break when the ball fell to Ahmed Abdulla on the edge of the area but his shot sailed narrowly over.
Barnet’s midfield trio of Abdulla, Oliver Lee and Clovis Kamdjo looked neat and tidy but they were unable to create any genuine chances while the Bees defence looked uncertain.
Jordan Brown’s aimless header back to his keeper just after the half-hour mark fell into the path of Exeter’s Arron Davies who should have done better with his shot.
Minutes later though Exeter got the breakthrough.
Steve Tully’s cross to John O’Flynn got flicked on to the feet of Jamie Cureton who, with his back to goal, was allowed to turn, look up and pick his spot.
Barnet started the second half brightly but the fluid transition from midfield to attack necessary to create genuine chances was lacking.
Exeter meanwhile looked dangerous and in the 66th minute Davies was allowed time to ghost forward before chipping into the path of Cureton who headed in his second of the game.
The Bees nearly hit back straight away when substitute Andy Yiadom’s looped cross beat Rhys Evans only to come back off the woodwork.
With ten minutes to go the Bees got the goal their endeavour deserved.
Ricky Holmes picked up the ball on the left before crossing to the near post where Jake Hyde was on hand to head home and set up a grand finale.
And with a minute to go it looked as though Barnet had grabbed a point as a deep cross found Holmes who somehow hit the post from point-blank range.
The ball was scrambled in on the rebound but, much to the home crowd’s dismay, the referee adjudged there to have been a foul in the build-up.
Barnet will feel aggrieved to have not earned a point from the game but another defeat, and a smattering of boos at the final whistle, suggest the Bees fans are beginning to run out of patience.
Mark Robson’s search for a first league win continues on Saturday when his team go away to Southend.
Barnet:- Sam Cowler, Barry Fuller (Byrne, 60), Jordan Brown, Clovis Kamdjo, Oliver Lee (Yiadom, 45), Ricky Holmes, Ahmed Abdulla, Jake Hyde, David Stephens, John Oster (Lowe, 71), Krystian Pearce
Subs:- Jack Saville, Mark Byrne, John Nurse, Andy Yiadom, Jon Fortune, Jamal Lowe, Liam O’Brien
Exeter City:- Rhys Evans, Steve Tully, Craig Woodman, Pat Baldwin, Danny Coles, Matt Oakley, Arron Davies, Jamie Cureton (Bauza, 90), Tommy Doherty, Kevin Amankwaah, John O’Flynn (Keohane, 84)
Subs:- Artur Krysiak, Elliott Frear, Guillem Bauza, Jimmy Keohane, Aaron Dawson, Elliott Chamberlain, Jordan Moore-Taylor
Referee: David Phillips