Barnet stretch their lead at the top with point away to Woking.Barnet secured hard-earned point away to third-placed Woking on Saturday night, as a gripping game at the Kingfield Stadium finished 1-1.
Another fast start saw the Bees take the lead after just ninety seconds as a marauding run by Elliott Johnson forced an own goal after just ninety seconds, but a Mike Cestor equaliser during the second half meant that both teams had to share to the spoils from an entertaining game.
Ahead of the game, Martin Allen made two changes to the side that beat AFC Telford last weekend.
Bondz N’Gala returned to the heart of the Bees’ defence whilst captain Charlie MacDonald resumed his partnership up front alongside John Akinde, with the men they replaced in Jack Saville and Bernard Mensah dropping to the bench.
In what is becoming a recurring theme this season, Barnet took no time at all to settle and raced into an early lead with just one minute on the clock.
Charlie MacDonald collected the ball with his back to goal before playing a reverse pass to the overlapping Elliott Johnson, before the full-back delivered a pinpoint cross that Mike Cestor could only turn into his own net with Luisma lurking behind.
The Spaniard nearly helped to create a second midway through the first half when his inswinging corner from the left caused panic in the Woking box with Joe Clarke clearing off the line following a goalmouth scramble.
The hosts were enjoying spells of possession, but Barnet’s pressing game and resolute defence were helping to stop crosses coming into their box and block the majority of shots that did come their way. The closest they came was when a header by Bondz N’Gala, under heavy pressure whilst defending a corner, flew narrowly wide of the post.
Barnet continued to look the more dangerous of the teams however, with James Clarke becoming the first player to go into the referee’s notebook after being forced to bring down John Akinde whilst he was bearing down on goal shortly before the break.
Woking came out with a renewed sense of purpose for the second half and put Barnet under some early pressure as Graham Stack was forced to produce a superb diving save to keep out a header from Joe McNerney at a corner.
However, the Cardinals were not to be denied moments later, as a cross from the left fell at the feet of Mike Cestor who atoned for his earlier error by slotting the ball into the net from ten yards out to level the scores shortly before the hour mark.
The Bees quickly rallied and went close three times in quick succession. First Lee Cook dribbled past virtually the entire Woking defence before dragging a shot wide of the far post before Charlie MacDonald was inches from connecting with a deep cross from Luisma with a sliding effort.
The pair nearly combined again to give Barnet the lead just a few minutes later as Charlie MacDonald had a strong penalty appeal turned down after rounding the goalkeeper before Luisma saw a last ditch block prevent his follow up on the rebound from finding the net.
Villa was replaced by Bernard Mensah shortly afterwards as Barnet continued to search for another goal. It was the home side who were next to go close however, as leading scorer Scott Rendell sent a left-footed shot from outside the box curling around the post.
Charlie MacDonald was forced from the field after suffering a blow to the face, and as the game ticked into the final ten minutes the captain was replaced by Jack Saville as Barnet reverted to a 5-4-1 formation.
The defender nearly proved an unlikely match winner with five minutes remaining, popping up at the back post to get on the end of a cross from Mauro Vilhete, but his lopping header was gathered by former Barnet goalkeeper Jake Cole.
Both Adam Newton and Jack Marriott went close for the Cardinals during the closing minutes, but the Bees held firm to secure a valuable point on the road that keeps them ??? clear at the top of the Conference table.
The Bees have a quick turnaround, with another away trip on Tuesday night, this time against ???-placed Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Ground.
Woking FC: Jake Cole; James Clarke, Joe McNerney, Mike Cestor, Chris Arthur; Adam Newton, Theo Lewis (Joey Jones 53), Josh Payne, Kevin Betsy; Giuseppe Sole (Jack Marriott 73), Scott Rendell.
Barnet FC: Graham Stack; Mauro Vilhete, David Stephens, Bondz N’Gala, Elliott Johnson; Luisma Villa (Bernard Mensah 65), David Hunt, Curtis Weston, Lee Cook; John Akinde (Jon Nurse 90), Charlie MacDonald (c) (Jack Saville 79).
Attendance: 2,617 (382 Barnet)