A stunning strike in time added on by Alex Nicholls gave Barnet their first victory in 2018 against a Notts County outfit who were still reeling from their 8-1 FA Cup midweek defeat at Swansea City.

The game burst into life in the closing moments. A Charlie Clough header went desperately close although a defensive error by substitute Tin Plavotic moments earlier had presented an opportunity that Shola Ameobi spurned.

Barnet boss Graham Westley had selected Nicholls to partner John Akinde in attack with a first start for right winger Jordan Nicholson in a 4-4-2 formation.

Barnet had the wind in their favour in the first-half, with County keeper Adam Collin having difficulty reaching the half-way line with his goal-kicks.

The first opening of note fell to Noor Husin, who should have given the visitors an eighth-minute lead but he pulled his shot wide of the far post.

Both sides lacked confidence in the first half with coherent play a rarity, although Barnet were always looking to have a strike on target with Akinde’s power and persistence posing problems for the County rear-guard.

Midway through the first period Nichols went close with a dramatic overhead kick following a deft delivery wide from Nicholson.

Barnet had looked hesitant when facing a Notts corner with the County forwards repeatedly looking ominously dangerous.

A last-ditch tackle from Clough foiled County’s Jonathan Forte as he bore down on goal in the 35th minute, although the Bees finished the first half on top with Ruben Bover, Akinde and Nicholls all having efforts that nearly broke the deadlock.

Barnet replaced Bover with Simeon Akinola on the left flank at the start of the second half. Akinola took the game by the scruff of the neck with the ex-Braintree forward constantly running with pace and intent at the County defence.

With Akinola on the pitch the Bees were a much more dangerous proposition. The quality of the general play improved with both sides eventually coming to grips with the conditions caused by the continuous downpour.

Nicholls was then neatly set up by Akinde as this new strike partnership began to gel promisingly.

There were spells during the second half when County were dominating play but the Barnet players were all working tirelessly to prevent their opponents converting this into a lead.

This was exemplified when Akinde chased the ball back to his own goal-line when County came forward with the striker’s diligence preventing the visitors getting the ball into the Barnet box.

With the game going into time being added on Barnet scored their dramatic winner, all the sweeter since many a time this season the Bees have conceded a late, demoralising goal.

From a well-judged punt forward by keeper Craig Ross, Nicholls allowed the ball to bounce, chested the ball forward and then hit a powerful volley from just inside the penalty area across his body to find the net.

Barnet had deserved this victory on the back of their work-rate, the defence, who for the most part had showed resilience, and the expertly-taken strike by Nicholls, who looked reborn in his new role alongside top-scorer Akinde.

Barnet remain rooted to the bottom of the table, but this victory, the first under boss Westley has the potential to be a dramatic turning point if relegation is to be avoided.

Barnet: Ross, Brindley, Santos (Plavotic 83), Clough, Tutonda, Nicholson (Vilhete 83), Weston, Watson, Bover (Akinola 45), Akinde, Nicholls. Subs not used: Coulthirst, J.Taylor, Sule, Legg.