Despite taking the lead in the 27th minute Barnet suffered a heavy 5-1 defeat at the hands of Portsmouth, who scored four times in the second-half.

A John Akinde penalty put the Bees ahead, an advantage Barnet would enjoy for only seven minutes before Pompey levelled.

Barnet’s cause was not helped when just after the hour mark Bira Dembele received a harsh red card which enabled Portsmouth to dominate the rest of the fixture.

Boss Martin Allen surprisingly made five changes to the team that had stuttered to a draw against Colchester United the week before.

In came Dembele, Ryan Watson, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Harry Taylor and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, with Bondz N’Gala, Alex Nicholls, Shaun Batt and Luke Gambin dropping to the bench while Sam Togwell missed out through injury.

The home side opened positively but after the Bees had coped with this initial flurry they began to take the game to the hosts.

In the heart of the Barnet defence Dembele was looking purposeful and a good chance fell to Curtis Weston after intricate build-up play but the midfielder’s effort lacked power.

Carl Baker had blazed over when well positioned for the hosts but it was no surprise when the Bees took the lead.

Elliott Johnson’s progress down the left was halted by foul means and from the resulting Ryan Watson free-kick eagle-eyed referee Darren England spotted a Tom Davies handball, a decision that was not contested.

Akinde then calmly passed the ball into the corner of the net from 12 yards to put Barnet ahead against his old club.

With Barnet playing well, an Akinde header from a corner minutes later almost doubled Barnet’s advantage, but it would be a false dawn.

In the 34th minute the tide turned. Barnet had opportunities to clear the ball but an astute pass from the talented Gary Roberts set up Conor Chaplin to drill the ball low into Barnet’s net.

The sides were level at the interval but Pompey set about their task with renewed effort from the first whistle of the second period.

Within five minutes the home side were ahead when Roberts skilfully evaded Michael Nelson on the edge of the penalty area before finding the top corner of the net with a powerful drive.

In effort to get back in the game Barnet then made a double substitution with Gambin and Batt entering the fray at the expense of Watson and Akpa-Akpro.

Within a minute though, Pompey extended their lead when Baker cut in from the right to find the net with a well-aimed left-foot shot.

The home side were now rampant, but when Dembele was shown a red card for seemingly impeding the progress of Chaplin, whose Chaplinesque stumble prompted referee England to reach for red and award a penalty Barnet’s hopes were effectively extinguished.

Josh Vickers pulled off a remarkable stop to keep out Roberts’ penalty, but with the Bees a man light Pompey’s task was now all the easier.

With the contest virtually over Pompey added two further goals through Milan Lalkovic and Danny Rose.

Lalkovic capitalised on lax defending and Rose was able to slot home after good inter-play had cut Barnet open.

From the moment Barnet took a first-half lead Portsmouth showed why they now reside in second place in the table with an impressive response, but even the locals felt that the margin of victory flattered their side.

For Barnet, Vickers, despite the result, continues to impress in goal and in central midfield, teenager Taylor put in a performance that belies his years and he must be pushing to retain his place in the side when the Bees face Morecambe at the Hive on Tuesday evening.

Barnet: Vickers, Vilhete, Nelson, Dembele, Johnson, Watson (Batt 55), Taylor, Weston, Akpa Akpro (Gambin 55), Campbell-Ryce (N'Gala 64), Akinde. Subs not used: Stephens, Sesay, Kyei, Nicholls.