Barnet scored a dramatic injury-time winner to secure a thrilling 2-1 victory over Forest Green Rovers and send them four points clear at the top of the Vanarama Conference table.
The Bees looked to have let a crucial three points slip after Rob Sinclair had levelled with just two minutes remaining following a first-half strike from Andy Yiadom, but with time ticking away Bondz N’Gala grabbed a winner deep into five minutes of stoppage time to secure a vital victory.
Ahead of the game, Martin Allen made three changes to the side that thumped Altrincham 5-0 at The Hive last weekend, recalling both Sam Togwell and Lee Cook to the midfield as Adam Mekki made way and Elliott Johnson dropped back into defence.
Striker Sam Hoskins was also handed a first start following his goal-scoring debut last time out as Jon Nurse started on the right side of midfield, while 18-year-old Alfie Pavey, who joined the club on loan from Millwall on Friday, was given a place on the bench.
Forest Green had an excellent chance virtually straight from kick-off after a poor touch from Johnson allowed Christian Jolley, making his debut after joining Rovers earlier in the week, a clear route on goal. However, with the striker through one-on-one, the left-back made a superb recovery tackle to clear the danger.
Yet the Bees would recover from that shaky start to take the lead after just ten minutes, with John Akinde winning his fourth penalty of the season. The Bees’ number nine raced onto a misplaced back-pass after a clearance by Sam Russell was charged down by Hoskins, showing good pace to win the ball ahead of the keeper who saw yellow for the foul.
Akinde went the same way from the spot as his two goals against Altrincham, but after the ball thudded back against the base of the post Andy Yiadom was on hand to follow in and tuck home the rebound.
Akinde would again be denied by the woodwork just five minutes later, spurning a glorious chance to double the Bees’ leadafter going around Russell before finding the same post with his shot from a narrow angle.
The home side responded strongly however, with Lee Hughes going close after 21 minutes with a half-volley that was deflected into the side netting before James Norwood spun Bondz N’Gala on the edge of the area before sending a low shot into the midriff of Graham Stack.
Forest Green were applying plenty of pressure as the first half drew to a close, and their best chance came from a rapid counter attack that set up Jolley on the corner of the area, but Graham Stack was once again on hand to gather his deflected effort.
The new strike pairing of Akinde and Hoskins had linked up well on a few occasions during the first half, and they nearly combined to stretch Barnet’s lead just four minutes after the interval when Akinde chested down a long ball forward, but with both forwards attempting to follow up neither were able to get their shot away.
Martin Allen replaced Lee Cook with Sam Muggleton on the hour mark as Forest Green threw striker Kurtis Guthrie on shortly afterwards in place of Jolley. The substitute then went close on 73 minutes, rising highest in the area to meet a cross from the right but he was unable to get his header on target.
With a quarter of an hour remaining the hosts made a double change which saw former Preston striker Jon Parkin enter the fray with Lee Hughes making way, with Martin Allen using the chance to give Alfie Pavey his Barnet debut.
Barnet looked to be standing firm under a surge of late pressure from the home side, but with just two minutes left on the clock Rob Sinclair – announced as the home side’s Man of the Match just moments earlier – pounced on a knock-down to finish from close range.
However, Barnet refused to let their heads drop, and quickly struck back by going up the other end with Alfie Pavey forcing a corner. Sam Togwell swung in the set piece and waiting there was Bondz N’Gala to power home a header to score his first goal for Barnet and send the 153 Bees fans behind the goal wild.
The late winner meant that Barnet have now stretched their lead at the top to four points ahead of the trip to take on Braintree Town on Tuesday evening.
Forest Green Rovers: Sam Russell; Chris Stokes, Luke Oliver, Danny Coles, David Pipe; Marcus Kelly (Elliott Frear 76), Sam Wedgbury, Rob Sinclair, James Norwood; Lee Hughes (Jon Parkin 76), Christian Jolley (Kurtis Guthrie 69).
Barnet FC: Graham Stack; Elliott Johnson, Bondz N’Gala, David Stephens, Andy Yiadom; Lee Cook (Sam Muggleton 60), Sam Togwell, Curtis Weston, Jon Nurse; John Akinde, Sam Hoskins (Alfie Pavey 78).
Attendance: 1,424 (153 Barnet).