Barnet continued their perfect start to the season with a convincing 2-0 win over Bristol Rovers at The Hive on Tuesday night.
Rovers have been hotly-tipped to make an instant return to the Football League this season, but were undone by two first half goals from the Bees’ new strike partnership of John Akinde and Charlie MacDonald.
A torrential rainstorm in the moments leading up to kick-off meant that the game started at a good pace, with both teams zipping the ball around quickly on the greasy surface.
Barnet shaded the opening stages, and were having particular joy down the right-hand side with both Andy Yiadom and Mauro Vilhete breaking down the flank at pace and putting in dangerous crosses that caused all manner of problems for the Rovers defence.
There was a moment of controversy on 17 minutes, when John Akinde was denied a clean run on goal by Mark McChrystal deliberately grabbing the ball as he lay prone on the floor. However, the big defender somehow escaped without a yellow card as referee Robert Whitton awarded just a free-kick.
The Bees’ early pressure was rewarded exactly midway through the first half, with John Akinde scoring his first for the club to give the home side the lead. Charlie MacDonald collected the ball from deep, chesting the ball down before threading a superb ball down the right-hand touchline for Akinde to run onto, taking his time before confidently slotting over the diving Will Puddy in goal.
The only real scare for Barnet came on 35 minutes, when an Andy Monkhouse shot from the edge of the penalty area deflected off the back of David Stephens into the path of Jake Gosling, but the Gibraltar international was unable to keep his shot down, blazing over from just six yards out.
Barnet continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides and they doubled their lead three minutes before half-time when Mauro Vilhete fired low towards goal from 25 yards out after the ball fell into his path in midfield. Puddy was only able to parry back across the face of goal, where MacDonald was waiting to calmly stroke into an unguarded net and register his second goal in two games.
Unsurprisingly, Bristol Rovers came out of the traps quickly after half-time as they looked for a way back into the game. They had a good chance just a minute after the interval, as Matty Taylor fired a low shot across goal but Graham Stack got down well to palm his effort away and clear of danger.
Despite having plenty of possession the visitors were unable to break Barnet down, as they were reduced to speculative shots from distance and a succession of crosses into the box.
Barnet carved out the first real chance of the second half on 69 minutes, when MacDonald collected the ball in the centre circle and threaded it between the centre backs for Akinde, but despite holding off his marker his shot was deflected wide.
From the resulting corner the Bees looked to made it 3-0, after a David Stephens header at the back post looped over the goalkeeper, but with many Barnet fans behind the goal celebrating the referee adjudged it to have been cleared off the line.
Bristol Rovers did apply some late pressure, but the closest they came was with a Monkhouse cross from the left that fizzed all the way across the face of goal before going out for a throw-in.
In the closing minutes Mauro Vilhete nearly added a spectacular third, knocking the ball beyond his marker before jinking past three defenders but as he charged into the penalty area he was unable to find the room to shoot.
Barnet held firm during four minutes of additional time to wrap up their second win in as many games and maintain their position at the top of the Conference table.
Next up is another home game at The Hive, against Lincoln City on Saturday.
Barnet: Graham Stack; Elliott Johnson, Bondz N’Gala, David Stephens, Andy Yiadom; Lee Cook, Sam Togwell, Curtis Weston, Mauro Vilhete; John Akinde, Charlie MacDonald (Jon Nurse 89).
Bristol Rovers: Will Puddy; Lee Brown, Mark McChrystal, Neil Trotman (Tom Parkes 45), Tom Lockyer (Daniel Leadbitter 52); Jake Gosling (Ryan Brunt 64), Lee Mansell, Andy Monkhouse, Stuart Sinclair; Matty Taylor, Jamie White.