Plymouth Argyle inflicted a 4-1 defeat on Barnet at Underhill which was, in the main, as comprehensive as the scoreline suggests. But had the Pilgrims not had the advantage of a highly dubious penalty decision in their favour within the first two minutes who knows how this game would have panned out.
Edgar Davids had trained with the players on Friday but fellow Head Coach Mark Robson selected the same team that had played so well at Southend the week previous with the exception of the Dutch international Collins John making his debut with the teenager Jamal Lowe moving to the bench.
Mark Byrne seemed to make a perfectly timed tackle just inside the penalty area only for referee Mr Fred Graham to point at the penalty spot; a decision that stunned both sets of supporters into a moment’s silence, before the implications became all too apparent.
Post-match the Argyle manager Carl Fletcher admitted that he did not feel that Byrne’s challenge warranted the penalty decision. Just the ref then...
From that moment on the visitors generally held the upper hand only and they consolidated their position on 11 minutes when Maxime Blanchard was head and shoulders above everyone and powerfully headed the ball into the net from close range.
Five minutes later the Bees were given a possible life-line when David Stephens scored from close range when he reacted first to a flick-on from Jake Hyde following a Byrne corner.
Collins John had by now left the pitch with a quad injury, he had played in the centre forward position and he did look as if he was still on the road to full match fitness.
From Barnet’s best move of the match when the players combined well Ricky Holmes cut in from the left but pulled his shot wide of the near post. The Bees could have done better here and they would not create such a good opening again.
On 62 minutes the game began to move out of Barnet’s reach when the pilgrims took a 3-1 lead to re-establish their two goal advantage when Paris Cowan-Hall got between the Barnet defenders to glance a header home from a well flighted free-kick delivery from Conor Hourihane.
The cake was iced when in the 90th minute Luke Young hit a terrific free-kick from distance which crossed the line after hitting the cross-bar.
The result naturally pleased the travelling Plymouth contingent of over 1000 supporters; but the bulk of Barnet’s first attendance of more than 3000, who had arrived with a sense of keen sense of optimism following developments during the week, could find no solace in the result or the performance.
The Bees are at home to Northampton Town this Friday, Kick-Off is 8.00pm