Bees defeated by Luton in even contest.Barnet suffered a 2-0 defeat against last season’s Conference champions Luton Town at The Hive on Sunday, as Martin Allen continued to prepare his squad for the new season with their third pre-season friendly.
Barnet made three changes to the side that beat Stevenage in midweek, with Gavin Mahon and Charlie MacDonald rested from the matchday squad ahead of the visit of Brentford on Tuesday night.
Luisma and Mauro Vilhete came into the team, along with Luke Gambin who supported lone striker John Akinde from a wide position along with captain for the day Keanu Marsh-Brown as the Bees tested a different formation to the one seen in their first two pre-season changes.
Once again Barnet started brightly, and nearly took the lead in spectacular fashion after just three minutes when Luisma struck a shot from range that forced a sprawling save from the goalkeeper.
The home side had a strong claim for a penalty ten minutes later, after Akinde spun his marker and broke into the box but was brought to the ground following a tussle with Stephen McNulty, who appeared fortunate to escape being penalised.
Barnet were enjoying the better of a scrappy game, and would have taken the lead on 34 minutes were it not for a fantastic save from the Luton goalkeeper Mark Tyler. Akinde was once again involved, powering to the byline before cutting back a cross for the onrushing Mauro Vilhete, but his point-blank header was somehow kept out with a reaction stop.
There was a scare for the home side just a minute later as Akinde stretched himself to connect with a deep free-kick from Luisma and ended up toppling over the advertising hoardings behind the goal, but after a short stoppage he returned to the field unharmed.
Despite barely having troubled Barnet during the first period, Luton took the lead on the stroke of half-time. The ball ricocheted to Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu in midfield who slid the ball beyond the Barnet defence, as Mark Cullen sprung the offside trap to race through one-on-one and place his finish to the right of Graham Stack and into the net.
Barnet made three chances at half-time, with Bondz N’Gala, Sam Muggleton and trialist Ramil Sheriff taking the places of David Stephens, Elliott Johnson and Andy Yiadom who had suffered an injury to his mouth.
Barnet continued to enjoy plenty of the ball and the better of the chances, but were finding it difficult to unlock a stubborn Luton defence. Luisma once again went close, stinging the hands of the goalkeeper with a long range drive that was dipping below the crossbar.
Luton were handed a golden chance to double their advantage just before the hour mark when Bondz N’Gala brought down Ruddock Mpanzu for a penalty after the midfielder had just beaten him to the ball. However, Alex Wall’s effort from the spot thumped against the bar before bouncing clear.
The Bees had a penalty claim of their own just two minutes later when another drive from distance by Luisma appeared to strike the arm of the defender, but referee Andy Woolmer was unmoved.
Both teams made a host of substitutions on 70 minutes, with the visitors making six changes while Barnet made four of their own, with Sam Cowler, George Sykes, Ahmed Abdulla and another trialist in Lee Cook coming on for Stack, Vilhete, Marsh-Brown and Curtis Weston.
Cowler was called straight into action, having to dive low to his left to keep out a shot from Jim Stephenson after the substitute had been picked out at the back post following a Luton breakaway.
However, the Hatters would soon extend their lead when they were awarded a second penalty on 78 minutes. Another Luton break caught the Barnet defence out of position, as Sam Muggleton brought down the advancing Shaun Whalley from behind.
Another substitute in Jake Howells took over the responsibilities, sending Cowler the wrong way with a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner.
The closing stages saw Martin Allen make yet more changes as he promoted four youth team players in Alfie Cain, Joe Gater, and the brothers Harry and Jack Taylor having been impressed with their performance in a 5-3 win against Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday.
Although all four youngsters more than held their own, they were unable to help Barnet reduce the deficit during the closing stages of an keenly-contested and evenly-balanced game.
Barnet: Stack (Cowler 69); Johnson (Muggleton 45, H. Taylor 82), Stephens (N’Gala 45), Saville (Gater 82), Yiadom (Sheriff 45); Vilhete (Cook 69), Weston (Abdulla 69), Villa (Cain 76); Marsh-Brown (Sykes 69), Gambin (J. Taylor 82), Akinde (Lowe 52).