Barnet go five points clear at the top with 1-0 win over Eastleigh.Barnet secured an entertaining 1-0 win over Eastleigh at The Hive on Saturday to move five points clear at the top of the Vanarama Conference table.
A deflected first-half strike from Sam Hoskins proved to be the difference, although in truth having had a goal disallowed and hit the woodwork twice in the closing stages Barnet could have won by more.
Martin Allen once again shuffled his side from the team that drew with Braintree in midweek.
Mauro Vilhete started his first game since being injured at Southport at the end of last month, filling in at left-back as Elliott Johnson moved up into the centre of midfield.
Lee Cook and Luke Gambin were also recalled in place of the injured Sam Muggleton with Sam Togwell taking a place on the bench.
In what is becoming a recurring theme this season, Barnet came out of the traps quickly and hit the post within a minute of kick-off when a quick free-kick by Andy Yiadom picked out John Akinde who nodded down for Sam Hoskins.
The on-loan striker then showed excellent close control to touch the ball over a trailing leg before dispatching a neat half-volley that kissed the base of the far post.
Barnet were looking sprightly in possession throughout the opening stages, with Hoskins and Gambin causing plenty of problems with their pace. The Bees had a strong shout for a penalty on 20 minutes after a Gambin cross bounced up onto the arm of Michael Green in the Eastleigh box following another incisive run from the winger.
The visitors were looking to contain and break, and they had a good chance shortly before the half-hour mark when Green saw a driven effort well-saved by Graham Stack before former Bee Ben Strevens fired the rebound over the crossbar.
Barnet did go on to take a deserved lead on 37 minutes however when Sam Hoskins showed good control to collect the ball on the edge of the area before unleashing a powerful shot that took a sizeable deflection to wrong-foot another former Barnet player Ross Flitney in goal as the ball nestled inside the left-hand post.
Hoskins continued to look sharp at the beginning of the second half, and nearly played a part in Barnet stretching their lead on 54 minutes when he fed John Akinde on the edge of the box who in turn teed up the advancing Andy Yiadom but the full-back’s shot was fired narrowly wide of the far post.
Despite the home side’s pressure Eastleigh were enjoying their own moments and ought to have levelled on the hour mark when Jamie Collins got up to meet a corner at the back post but was unable to get his header on target.
Martin Allen injected more energy into the side during the second half, with Adam Mekki and young loanee Alfie Pavey coming on for Luke Gambin and goal-scorer Sam Hoskins.
Eastleigh did have the ball in the net on 80 minutes after Craig McAllister turned in substitute Yemi Odubade’s shot across the face of goal but their celebrations were soon cut short by the linesman’s flag.
Four minutes later it was Barnet who were denied by the lineman’s flag after Curtis Weston slipped the ball inside to John Akinde who had just strayed beyond the last defender before curling a beautiful finish into the top corner.
Subsitute Adam Mekki would come within inches of finding the same corner of the net with just a minute remaining on the clock after he jinked his way into the box before unleashing a fierce shot towards the near post that Flitney was only able to parry against first the post and then the crossbar.
Incredibly, Barnet would hit the bar again just two minutes later after John AKinde raced through one-on-one before lofting a shot against the woodword.
However, it would matter not as Barnet held on to see out the 1-0 win and go five points clear at the top of the table, their biggest margin of the season so far.
Next up in a busy week for the Bees is the midweek trip to Macclesfield on Tuesday night followed by the visit of Kidderminster to The Hive on Saturday.
Barnet: Graham Stack; Andy Yiadom, David Stephens, Bondz N’Gala, Mauro Vilhete; Luke Gambin (Adam Mekki 61), Elliott Johnson, Curtis Weston (c), Lee Cook (Sam Togwell 87); John Akinde, Sam Hoskins (Alfie Pavey 70).
Eastleigh: Ross Flitney; Paul Reid, Dean Beckwith (c), Chris Todd (Stuart Fleetwood 46); Dan Spence, Craig Stanley, Ben Strevens (Yemi Odubade 68), Jamie Collins, Michael Green; Jai Reason, Craig McAllister.