Mark Byrne's late strike secures three points at The Hive against Forest Green Rovers.
Mark Byrne’s 80th minute strike ensured Barnet’s promotion push stayed alive as the Bees secured a 2-1 win over Forest Green Rovers.
The Bees dominated the first-half and entered the break with a deserved lead courtesy of a bullet header from Valentin Gjokaj but Oliver Norwood equalised with 30 minutes to play.
Martin Allen’s side continued to impress and with ten minutes remaining Keanu Marsh-Brown crossed to Byrne who slid in to secure three points and spark jubilant scenes at The Hive.
Barnet made two changes to the side who secured a point at the Abbey Stadium with Graham Stack returning from a three match ban to replace Nick Jupp and Elliot Johnson replacing the suspended Curtis Weston.
With just two minutes on the clock the Bees were filling the Rovers’ back line with dread as Jon Nurse battled to the byline and crossed into the danger zone where the away side cleared.
13 minutes later Jake Hyde got his first sniff at goal when Nurse and Byrne combined and the ball fell to the club’s top scorer who was unable to divert his low effort on target.
The warning signs were there and with 19 minutes played the Bees took a deserved lead through on loan Derby County defender Valentin Gjokaj who rose unmarked to power Marsh-Brown’s corner into the back of the net.
Credit for the goal should also go to Nurse and Hyde with the former’s quick thinking and quicker throw allowing his strike partner to force the initial save from Sam Russell.
With 24 minutes played the first yellow card of the match was awarded to Paul Green who scythed down Nurse after the forward turned the defender with ease.
Barnet continued to dominate with Nurse continuing to torment the Rovers’ defence before Andy Yiadom shot wide and Marsh-Brown was denied following a free-flowing move which was started by the impressive James Harper.
Five minutes before the break the Bees again sliced through the away defence but after picking his spot Marsh-Brown’s low shot clipped the post and rolled wide as Ady Pennock’s side continued to live on the edge.
Rovers did manage to test Stack before the break but the former Arsenal goalkeeper was alert to deny Lee Hughes at his near post and ensure the Bees entered the break with a 1-0 lead.
The away side improved in the second period and with 58 minutes played they had a golden opportunity to level but after evading his marker Eddie Oshodi headed wide.
Three minutes later they did equalise when Yan Klukowski’s low ball into the box was met by Norwood who showed excellent composure to stroke the ball past Stack.
On 65 minutes Barnet broke in behind the Rovers’ defence and a hefty challenge from Luke Oliver sent Jake Hyde tumbling to the ground but as attentions turned to the officials it became clear that the linesman had already flagged for offside.
Marsh-Brown was next to try his luck forcing Russell into a good save with a swerving 35-yard effort before substitutes Sam Muggleton and Ahmed Abdulla got in on the action with the latter’s shot falling to Hyde who headed over.
With just under ten minutes remaining the Bees went back in front through Byrne who darted in at the near post to slide the ball past Russell and send Allen’s side on their way to a big three points.
There were however nervy scenes in the later stages especially when Klukowski broke through but Stack got a vital touch to give Gjokaj time to clear and ensure Martin Allen remained unbeaten since his Barnet return.