Barnet, unbeaten in their previous eight matches, were defeated 2-1 at home by Stevenage, who for the majority of the game had the edge over their local rivals in front of a good crowd of more than 3,000.

The visitors took the lead in the 38th minute and despite a spirited comeback early in the second half by the Bees, with John Akinde scoring an equaliser from the penalty spot just minutes after the restart, the visitors’ winning goal came just after the hour mark.

The Barnet management team of Rossi Eames and Henry Newman made just one change to the side that had encouragingly won at Yeovil the previous weekend; the injured Tom Champion being replaced by Ryan Watson in central midfield.

Barnet were the first to show any attacking initiative when in the third minute Akinde ran purposefully at the Stevenage rearguard before he was fouled a fraction outside of the penalty area.

From the resulting well-worked set-play, Elliott Johnson’s deflected effort went for a corner with Stevenage keeper Jamie Jones completely wrong-footed.

The visitors then asserted some pressure on the Barnet goal and came close several times to breaking the deadlock with their front pairing of Rowan Liburd and Mark Godden looking dangerous.

Seven minutes before the break the visitors unsurprisingly went ahead. Godden played a neat pass back into the path of Dale Gorman who picked his spot with precision, curling the ball out of the reach of Barnet keeper Jamie Stephens.

Barnet made two changes at half-time, bringing on Alex Nicholls and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro who replaced Watson and Ephron Mason-Clark, both of whom had made little impression.

The substitutions enabled teenager Jack Taylor to take up a role in central midfield with the versatile Mauro Vilhete moving back to right-back.

In the opening seconds of the second half a surge forward from the impressive Taylor saw the ball move out to Akinde, whose progress goalwards was halted by foul means by Fraser Franks. Akinde, with his usual studied style, put the ball into the net from the resulting penalty.

Barnet then enjoyed their best spell of the match and sought to take a lead as they put the Stevenage goal under pressure with Akinde hitting a powerful shot just over the crossbar from distance.

The visitors were anything but down and out and Godden came close on two occasions to going in front once more. First he burst through despite the presence of Bira Dembele and Michael Nelson to shot wide and moments later he hit the side netting from an acute angle.

With 61 minutes on the clock Stevenage scored their second when Franks headed down a free-kick to Wilkinson and from 20 yards his centre-back partner hit a crisp volley that flashed past Stephens.

In the 84th minute Stevenage substitute Michael Tonge struck a free-kick that hit an upright which would have put the outcome beyond doubt. But the Bees did rally in the closing moments with a Dembele header looking destined to be the equaliser, only for the visitors to scramble the ball clear.

Stevenage were the superior outfit on the day and Barnet can have no complaints at the outcome.

This was Stevenage’s sixth away win in the league, a record second only to table-topping Plymouth Argyle, Barnet’s opponents in the first home fixture of the New Year.

Barnet: Stephens, Taylor, Nelson, Dembele, Johnson, Vilhete, Weston, Watson, Akpa-Akpro 45) Gambin (Kyei 80), Mason-Clark (Nicholls 45), Akinde. Unused subs: Vickers, Sesay, Fonguck, Muggleton.