Barnet suffered a 1-0 Boxing Day defeat at the hands of Cambridge United with the visitors keeping the U’s at bay until just after the hour mark when George Maris scored the decisive goal.

Barnet had pinned their hopes on a defensive 4-5-1 formation with the intention of rolling with the punches and then striking on the break.

Simeon Akinola, who had impressed in the previous match against Cheltenham Town as a second-half substitute, was rewarded with a place in the starting line-up, as did Wesley Fonguck in central midfield.

The visitors were the first side to create opportunities, with a shot from Akinola and a headed effort from Charlie Clough calling the United keeper David Forde into action.

It was then the turn of the hosts to attempt to break the deadlock, with an Ade Azeez effort being blocked by Jamie Stephens and a well-struck volley from distance by Greg Taylor narrowly missing its intended target.

With just after half-an-hour of play gone, Mark McGhee’s men suffered a setback when Stephens was replaced in goal by Craig Ross due to a hamstring injury.

Barnet had a golden opportunity seven minutes before the break when a John Akinde lob went over the crossbar after the striker had outwitted Cambridge’s offside trap.

Dave Amoo’s header was kept out by Ross from close range at the start of the second half, with Cambridge continuing to have the bulk of the possession.

It was no great surprise when United opened the scoring in the 61st minute. Jevani Brown went relatively unchallenged as he weaved through the Barnet defence before releasing Maris, who expertly slotted the ball into the corner of the net.

Without creating clear-cut chances to score an equaliser in open-play, Ryan Wilson and Jamal Campbell-Ryce had opportunities from free-kicks, an Akinola shot from 20 yards was well-held by Forde and an Akinde header flew over the target, but it was Cambridge who continued to look the more likely to find the back of the net.

Barnet: Stephens (Ross 32), Brindley, Clough, Santos, Watson (Coulthirst 70), Akinde, Campbell-Ryce, J.Taylor, Akinola, Fonguck, Blackman (Tutonda 67). Subs not used: Nelson, Vilhete, Nicholls, Sweeney.