John Akinde’s third hat-trick of the season helped Barnet to beat Aldershot Town 3-1 at the Electrical Services Stadium on Friday, as Barnet continued their fine form with a Boxing Day win to go nine points clear at the top of the Conference.
Jordan Roberts’ header for the hosts shortly after half time had cancelled out Akinde’s opener, but the Bees’ number nine gave Barnet the lead once more less than a minute later before sealing the Bees’ fourth consecutive win in the league with a penalty in stoppage time as Aldershot were reduced to ten men.
With four games coming up in ten days, Martin Allen made two changes to the side that overcame Chester 3-0 at The Hive on Saturday as he looked to rotate his squad.
David Stephens returned to the heart of the Bees’ defence having recovered from a foot injury, with Jack Saville retaining his place alongside him as Bondz N’Gala dropped to the bench. Meanwhile, Mauro Vilhete lined up on the right side of midfield in place of Luisma Villa who was also named amongst the substitutes.
The hosts started quickly and enjoyed a sustained period of possession from the first whistle with Brett Williams bending a shot wide of the left-hand post after six minutes.
However, Barnet soon found their feet and went close to taking the lead shortly after a quarter of an hour when Lee Cook slipped in Charlie MacDonald who saw his shot palmed away by Phil Smith before Mauro Vilhete’s follow up was half-blocked as the ball trickled wide.
The captain was in the thick of the action again fifteen minutes later, springing the offside trap and ghosting inside his man before seeing his cut back for John Akinde intercepted at the last moment.
The Bees’ number nine was not to be denied four minutes before the break however, when he latched on to a clearance by David Stephens before controlling on his chest and bursting between the Shots’ centre-backs to poke the ball beyond Smith for his twentieth goal of the season.
Aldershot rallied quickly, and went close twice in quick succession during three minutes of added time before the break. First Brett Williams hooked a shot wide of goal with Graham Stack out of goal before the Bees’ keeper came to the rescue to block a Dan Holman shot with his leg after the striker had jinked through one-on-one.
The home fans did not have to wait much longer for a goal however, as Aldershot drew level three minutes after the break. Jordan Roberts was the man to get it, stealing in at the back post to nod home a corner from close range.
Yet their celebrations were to be short-lived, as Barnet struck back within a minute to immediately retake the lead. John Akinde was again the man to find the net for the Bees, collecting a through ball by Charlie MacDonald and taking his time to take a touch before calmly slotting underneath the keeper.
The striker had a golden chance to complete his hat-trick on 64 minutes after being played in by Vilhete, but his right-foot shot on the turn was always curling away from goal.
As the second half wore on Martin Allen looked to bring on some fresh legs, replacing Lee Cook with David Hunt as Weston pushed out to the right and Vilhete switched to the left wing before bringing on Bondz N’Gala in place of Stephens.
Barnet continued to look dangerous on the break, and had a glorious chance to wrap up the points with seven minutes remaining after an interception by Curtis Weston set up a counter attack. He powered down the right before feeding Akinde who was closed down before he could find either Charlie MacDonald or Mauro Vilhete on the left in acres of space.
A similar move then helped to wrap up the game during four minutes of added time, as Akinde raced across the face of the penalty area before being tripped by the arm of Phil Smith on the floor. The goalkeeper was subsequently sent off as the hosts brought on Dan Thomas to face the resulting penalty, but the substitute was unable to stop Akinde from coolly rolling the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of the net to seal his hat-trick and a ninth win on the road for the Bees.
Next up for Martin Allen’s men are Dover Athletic on Sunday in the first of a double header at The Hive before the return fixture against Aldershot on New Year’s Day.
Aldershot Town: Phil Smith; Jaydon Gibbs, Joe Oastler, Glenn Wilson (c) (Andre McCollin 70), Chris Barker; Sam Hatton, Jordan Roberts, Manny Oyeleke (Dan Thomas 90), Kieron Forbes; Brett Williams (Dan Fitchett 87), Dan Holman.
Barnet FC: Graham Stack; Andy Yiadom, David Stephens (Bondz N’Gala 71), Jack Saville, Elliott Johnson; Mauro Vilhete, Sam Togwell, Curtis Weston (Bernard Mensah 90), Lee Cook (David Hunt 65); John Akinde, Charlie MacDonald (c).
Attendance: 1,940 (312 Barnet).