Barnet’s winning start to the season came to an end on Saturday, as the Bees went down 2-1 to Lincoln City at The Hive.
Lincoln raced into a two goal lead after just 21 minutes, with Barnet pulling one back through Keanu Marsh-Brown after half-time. However, despite constant pressure throughout the final half hour the Bees were denied a point thanks mainly to an inspired performance from Lincoln goalkeeper Nick Townsend.
Martin Allen made one change to the side that beat Bristol Rovers in midweek, replacing Mauro Vilhete on the right wing with Keanu Marsh-Brown who made his first start of the season.
Also featuring in the matchday squad for the first time this campaign were Jamal Lowe and Luke Gambin, who took the places of Luisma Villa and Jon Nurse on the bench.
Barnet started the better of the two teams, and carved out the first real opportunity in the ninth minute when a Lee Cook cross from the left found Charlie MacDonald unmarked in the penalty area, but the Bees’ captain couldn’t get any power on his header as it looped into the goalkeeper’s hands.
However, it was Lincoln who took the leader after a quarter of an hour. Sean Newton was afforded much space on the left, sending in a cross for striker Jordan Burrow to plant a firm header into the net at the back post.
Barnet were nearly punished in exactly the same way two minutes later, with another deep cross from Newton being flicked on by Burrow before falling to Lincoln captain Alan Power who sent a scuffed effort bouncing wide.
However, the Imps did double their lead on 21 minutes. This time it was a cross from Jon Nolan from the right-hand side that did the damage with Hamza Bencherif using his height advantage to outjump Andy Yiadom at the back post.
It was nearly three just before the half hour mark, when Ben Tomlinson’s cut the ball back for Bencherif from the left byline, but Graham Stack produced a superb save to keep his powerful effort out.
Barnet came within inches of reducing the deficit on 38 minutes. Charlie MacDonald showed his usual tenacity to win the ball back in the Lincoln with a sliding tackle before cutting it back for John Akinde but the big striker was unable to make a connection. However, Lee Cook was following in behind, sending a curling effort towards the top corner which goalkeeper Nick Townsend, on loan from Birmingham City, somehow tipped over.
Having come so close to getting back into the game, Barnet thought they were as good as out of it less than a minute later when Lincoln went straight up the other end and put the ball in the back of the net, but Tomlinson was flagged offside after turning in another Newton cross from the left.
Martin Allen made two changes at half-time as he searched for a route back into the game, bringing on Sam Muggleton and Mauro Vilhete at full-back for Elliott Johnson and Sam Togwell, as Andy Yiadom pushed into midfield.
Barnet came out for the second half a different team, with Akinde forcing Townsend into a string of fine saves to deny Akinde three times in the space of six minutes.
However, the Bees’ constant pressure finally told on 55 minutes when they got the goal that their improved performance deserved. It all came when the referee reversed a throw-in deep in the Barnet half after Jake Caprice refused to take it from where it was awarded despite being warned on numerous occasions.
Sam Muggleton then launched a quick thrown down the touchline for Charlie MacDonald to run onto before crossing from the left, with the ball finding its way to Keanu Marsh-Brown in the box to lash low and hard into the bottom left-hand corner.
Barnet continued to pour forward, but it was Lincoln who nearly scored the fourth goal of the afternoon when Nat Brown flicked a near-post header against the crossbar following a free-kick from the right.
The game became incredibly open during the final half-hour as Barnet poured forward in search of an equaliser, throwing on another substitute in Luke Gambin after 61 minutes, with Lincoln counter-attacking at will.
There was a moment of controversy on 74 minutes when John Akinde had a loud appeal for a penalty turned down, and instead received a yellow card for simulation, a decision that looked harsh given that he had already stayed on his feet once to ride the initial challenge.
Barnet kept pressing but were unable to convert any of the chances that came their way, the best of which came in four minutes of additional time. Gambin, enjoying a lively cameo, got in behind the Lincoln defence and crossed for Akinde, but after controlling and turning he was unable to create the room for a shot.
Bondz N’Gala went up front during the final minutes with even Graham Stack advancing for a late corner but somehow the Imps held on to win 2-1.
Barnet: Graham Stack; Elliott Johnson (Sam Muggleton 45), Bondz N’Gala, David Stephens, Andy Yiadom; Lee Cook (Luke Gambin 61), Sam Togwell (Mauro Vilhete 45), Curtis Weston, Keanu Marsh-Brown; John Akinde, Charlie MacDonald (c).
Lincoln City: Nick Townsend; Sean Newton, Tony Diagne, Nat Brown, Jake Caprice; Ben Tomlinson, Jon Nolan, Arnaud Mendy, Hamza Bencherif, Alan Power (c) (Marcus Marshall 85); Jordan Burrow.