Barnet continued their preparations for the new season with a narrow 2-1 defeat against Margate at Hartsdown Park on Tuesday. Barnet controlled large portions of the game against the Ryman Premier side but were undone by goals in each half from Charlie Allen and Anthony Riviere either side of a Charlie MacDonald equaliser.
Barnet: Graham Stack; Elliott Johnson (Carl Muggleton 45), Jack Saville (David Stephens 45), Bondz N’Gala, Andy Yiadom; Gavin Mahon, Curtis Weston (Mauro Vilhete 75), Luisma Villa (Sam Togwell 45), Keanu Marsh-Brown (Lee Cook 45); John Akinde, Charlie MacDonald (Jamal Lowe 67).
Martin Allen named a strong side for the Bees’ first away trip of their pre-season campaign, with John Akinde becoming the latest player to wear the captain’s armband.
Margate have enjoyed a productive summer as they look to achieve a promotion to the Conference South, and had already beaten AFC Wimbledon 3-0 and a Wolves U21 side 5-1 during an impressive pre-season campaign.
The home side began the game with confidence as Barnet struggled to assert themselves in the early stages, and took the lead after just twelve minutes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was Martin Allen’s son Charlie who scored the goal, collecting the ball on the edge of the area and breaking into the box before poking the ball beyond Graham Stack.
The Gate nearly doubled their lead after 20 minutes, when some neat interplay down the right hand side saw Lewis Taylor deliver a pinpoint cross onto the head of Jason Prior. The striker got plenty of power behind his header, but was unable to direct it as it flew narrowly wide of Stack’s right-hand post.
Barnet were growing into the game and began to convert their possession into chances as the first half wore on. They came close on 31 minutes when Nikki Bull came rushing out of his goal to clatter Keanu Marsh-Brown, but the Margate goalkeeper did well to keep out a low Elliott Johnson shot from the resulting free-kick.
Bull was again called into action five minutes later after Curtis Weston had slid Keanu Marsh-Brown through one-on-one, coming out to deny the Barnet winger with his legs before Akinde volleyed the rebound over the crossbar.
One minute before half time, the former Aldershot keeper was again on hand with a diving save to keep out Akinde’s header from a free kick, in the first instalment of a private battle between the two players that would continue throughout the second half.
Martin Allen made four changes at half-time, bringing David Stephens and Sam Muggleton into the defence in place of Saville and Johnson and replacing Marsh-Brown and Luisma in midfield with two trialists in Lee Cook and Sam Togwell.
Barnet came out for the second half with a renewed sense of urgency, and controlled the opening stages by controlling possession and pushing forward relentlessly.
They were finally rewarded for their positive play on 62 minutes, when Charlie MacDonald scored another goal against a former club to register his third goal of pre-season. The chance was created by Akinde, a thorn in Margate’s side throughout, who flicked a header into the path of MacDonald to chest down and slide beyond Bull.
The striker was replaced shortly afterwards by Jamal Lowe as Barnet continued to press forward. Bull again denied Akinde on 67 minutes, producing a spectacular reflex save to claw away his flicked header. It was the same story two minutes later, the goalkeeper this time getting down low to keep out a header across goal from the big striker.
However, despite all the visitors pressure Margate retook the lead on 77 minutes with virtually their first meaningful attack of the second half when Riviere made the most of an advantage played by the referee to break into the box and curl beyond Graham Stack.
Despite the setback Barnet continued to pour forward but were unable to find an equaliser during the closing stages as Margate held on for a third win in a row.
Barnet’s pre-season preparations conclude this weekend at The Hive on Saturday against Wycombe Wanderers.