Bees go down to Brentford in tough test.Barnet suffered a 5-1 defeat against London rivals Brentford in their fourth friendly of the summer at The Hive on Tuesday evening.
Martin Allen’s men started brightly and even took an early lead through another Charlie MacDonald goal, but were ultimately undone by the superior quality of the Championship new-boys during what will undoubtedly be the toughest test of their pre-season campaign.
Barnet: Graham Stack; Elliott Johnson, Jack Saville, Bondz N'Gala, David Stephens; Gavin Mahon; Luisma Villa (Jon Nurse 60), Curtis Weston, Andy Yiadom; John Akinde (Mauro Vilhete 72), Charlie MacDonald.
Once again, Barnet made three changes to their starting team with both Gavin Mahon and Charlie MacDonald returning to the side having been rested on Sunday.
Bondz N’Gala also made his first start for the Bees, coming into the centre of defence alongside Jack Saville as David Stephens was moved to right-back with Andy Yiadom playing further forward in midfield.
As has been the case throughout Barnet’s pre-season campaign, the home side set the early tone of the game with a period of possession and string of corners.
Their first real chance came after just three minutes when captain for the evening Gavin Mahon picked out John Akinde who powered past his marker into the box but his cross rolled just behind the advancing Yiadom.
Just five minutes later though Yiadom would play a crucial role in giving Barnet the lead. Clearly enjoying his more advanced position, he picked the ball up in midfield and glided past two defenders before clipping a ball into the box for Charlie MacDonald. The experienced striker showed an adept touch to bring the ball down on his chest and fire a low half-volley into the bottom left-hand corner of the net for his second goal of pre-season against his former club.
Barnet’s lead would only last six minutes however as Brentford came back into the game strongly, with a cross from the left eluding everybody before bouncing through for Stuart Dallas to nod in at the back post.
Brentford were starting to show their class having romped to automatic promotion from League One last season and nearly took the lead on 25 minutes. Andre Gray, last season’s top scorer in the Conference with Luton Town, stabbed a close-range effort towards the top corner but Graham Stack produced a fantastic reaction save to parry it over.
Barnet were still creating chances, and forced the opposition goalkeeper into a spectacular save of his own when Luisma Villa sent a curling strike towards the bottom right-hand corner but David Button dived low to palm the ball away.
Brentford kept coming forward though, and took the lead on 36 minutes in slightly controversial circumstances. The ball was played through the middle for Alan Judge to run beyond Andre Gray in an offside position, and with the linesman ruling that he was not interfering with play Judge was allowed to advance and slot home.
Judge, signed permanently from Blackburn this summer, would score a classy second five minutes later to give Brentford a 3-1 in. Elliott Johnson did superbly well to make a sliding block on his initial shot, but as the rebound fell back into his path the Irishman produced a moment of impudence to lob the ball over the stranded Stack and just inside the far post.
Brentford made seven changes at half-time, leaving just Nico Yennaris, Jake Bidwell, Alex Pritchard and Gray on the pitch. However, the visitors lost none of their intensity and the latter two of those four soon combined to stretch Brentford’s lead on 57 minutes.
Pritchard, on a season-long loan from Tottenham, sent a low cross into the box from the left from the left where Gray was waiting to place his finish into the middle of the goal for Brentford’s fourth.
Brentford made four more changes on the hour mark but it was one of the faces that had been introduced at half-time who scored the fifth on 64 minutes, with Montell Moore drilling from distance into the bottom right-hand corner of the net to make it 5-1.
Jon Nurse was introduced in place of Luisma shortly before the goal, and the player-coach made an immediate impact, flicking the ball through for MacDonald. However, the striker chose to shoot from distance rather than take the ball on as his low effort was saved.
Brentford continued to look dangerous going forward, and rattled the woodwork on 68 minutes after Jake Reeves collected a Moses Odubajo back-heel and rifled the ball against the crossbar from 25 yards.
Just a minute later Brentford had an even better chance to extend their lead after they were awarded a penalty for a trip by Stephens on Odubajo, but Kevin O’Connor skewed his effort from the spot over the bar.
It proved to be the last golden chance for either side as Barnet kept pressing the visitors when they were in possession until the final whistle.
The result may not have been a welcome one, but there can be little doubt of the value of this test against a top-class team when the Bees’ league campaign gets underway in less than three weeks' time.