Barnet Football Club



Match report: Barnet 1 – 3 Forest Green Rovers

Barnet missed out on the chance to go back to the top of the table on Saturday, going down 3-1 at home to Forest Green Rovers.

John Akinde had given the Bees the perfect start from the penalty spot to give the Bees a deserved lead, but after Dale Bennett had levelled before the break goals from Jon Parkin and Kurtis Guthrie during the second half were enough to give the visitors all three points.

Ahead of the game, Martin Allen named three changes to the side that won away at Altrincham last time out. Andy Yiadom returned to the starting line-up having recovered from a foot injury, with Jack Saville coming into the heart of defence in place of Bondz N’Gala.

Meanwhile, Lee Cook returned on the left of midfield in place of Sam Muggleton as Elliott Johnson reverted to full-back, with Michael Gash continuing to partner John Akinde up front.

Sam Togwell also returned to the squad following injury, whilst he was joined on the bench by player-coach Jon Nurse who was involved for the first time since December having continued his recovery from a knee injury sustained against Torquay back in December.

Barnet came flying out of blocks, and forced an early save from Sam Arnold who was sent sprawling as he tried to keep out a fierce Luisma strike from 25 yards.

The Bees’ early endeavours were rewarded on seven minutes when they took the lead from the penalty spot. John Akinde was the man to win it, beating Arnold to the ball on the corner of the area as he chested it down before being sent tumbling by the keeper who received a yellow card. Once again the big striker then quickly dusted himself down to calmly slot home and give Barnet a deserved 1-0 lead.

The home side were on a high, and some excellent pressing deep in the Forest Green half helped force another chance as the visitors conceded possession to Lee Cook who cut inside before sending a low shot towards the bottom corner which Arnold scrambled across to save.

However, Rovers then hit back to equalise on 25 minutes after the ball ricocheted to Dale Bennett who took a touch before firing into the top corner from the edge of the box to make it 1-1.

Barnet refused to be bowed however, and nearly hit back immediately when Michael Gash got on the end of an Akinde knock-down in the box only to see his flicked effort well saved by Arnold.

The closest the Bees came to scoring again before the break was during two minutes of stoppage time, when Arnold nearly fumbled a wicked free kick by Luisma over his own line before recovering to gather the loose ball.

It proved to be the Spaniard’s last contribution as Martin Allen made one change at the break, bringing on Luke Gambin in his place. 

Barnet continued in much the same vein at the start of the second half and had two early chances to retake the lead.

Firstly, John Akinde muscled his way past Aaran Racine to claim a flighted ball over the defence before dribbling beyond Charlie Clough and poking a shot from a narrow angle agonisingly wide of the far post.

Four minutes later, it was another Clifford pass that sparked a Barnet attack, with Elliott Johnson racing onto his lay off before crossing for Andy Yiadom who saw a glancing, bouncing header destined for the top corner plucked out of the air by Arnold.

Forest Green were however looking dangerous, and responded instantly with Elliott Frear striking the base of the post with a low drive after Barnet had lost possession in their own defensive third.

The visitors then took the lead through another counter attack on 67 minutes, as Charlie Clough strode out of defence with the ball to set up an attack that eventually led to Jon Parkin being picked out at the back post to score with a precise finish.

Barnet responded by bringing on Sam Togwell for the injured Curtis Weston, but the midfielder could not stop Rovers from stretching their lead on 73 minutes when Kurtis Guthrie got on the end of a corner from the right to head home and make it 3-1 to the visitors.

Martin Allen threw on another attacker in Jon Nurse during the closing stages, but Barnet struggled to carve out chances as Forest Green looked to protect their lead.

The closest they came was when John Akinde collecting a cross from Gambin from the left before shooting from a tight angle, but even the Bees’ top scorer could not spark a comback as he lashed into the side netting.

Following the defeat, Barnet remain two points behind Bristol Rovers with a game in hand, after the Gas were beaten 2-1 at home by Eastleigh, the Bees’ next opponents on Saturday.

Barnet FC: Graham Stack; Andy Yiadom, David Stephens, Jack Saville, Elliott Johnson; Luisma Villa (Luke Gambin 46), Curtis Weston (c) (Sam Togwell 67), Conor Clifford, Lee Cook; John Akinde, Michael Gash (Jon Nurse 80).

Forest Green Rovers: Steve Arnold; Dale Bennett, Charlie Clough, Aaran Racine, Marcus Kelly (c); Kurtis Guthrie (Tom Bender 85), Clovis Kamdjo (David Pipe 90), Rob Sinclair, Elliott Frear; Stuart Fleetwood (James Marwood 78), Jon Parkin.

Attendance: 2,070.