Barnet stay top despite narrow defeat to Wrexham.Barnet were narrowly defeated 1-0 by Wrexham on Tuesday night, going down to a Robbie Evans goal shortly after half-time.
Barnet started the game brightly and enjoyed plenty of possession throughout, but they were unable to break down a regimented Wrexham defence on a frustrating night at The Hive.
Ahead of the game, Martin Allen made one change to the side that drew with AFC Telford United at the weekend, handing Jon Nurse his first start of the season in place of Luke Gambin after the player-coach impressed as a second-half substitute at New Bucks Head.
There was also a return for Keanu Marsh-Brown to the bench after the winger had not featured since coming on as a substitute in the 4-0 win over Dartford at The Hive on Bank Holiday Monday.
Any fears of a lingering hangover following Telford’s late equaliser on Saturday were quickly banished, as Barnet positively flew out of the traps.
They went close after just four minutes after a clever throw by Elliott Johnson set Lee Cook free down the left. His low cross eventually found its way to Luisma Villa at the near post, but the Spaniard scuffed his shot as it trickled just wide of the far post.
Dan Bachman was then tested in the Wrexham goal five minutes later with a dipping shot from 25 yards by Curtis Weston that skidded off the surface, but the keeper got down well to parry his effort away.
Despite failing to find the breakthrough during a whirlwind opening, Barnet did not let up and continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides.
There was another nervy moment for the visitors on the half-hour mark when Bachman clawed a Cook cross away from the waiting head of John Akinde, before Luisma sent an angled volley narrowly over from the rebound.
Wrexham were offering little in attack, with their main threat coming from a succession of set pieces. However, they did register their first real shot of note on 35 minutes when Wes York cut in from the left but dragged his shot as it trickled wide comfortably wide of the post.
It took a brilliant last-ditch tackle from Joe Clarke to deny Barnet three minutes later, as a jinking run by Luisma down the left after he had switched wings with Cook helped to tee up Akinde, but he had the ball robbed from his toes by Clarke’s sliding challenge.
As with the first half Barnet started the second period with plenty of intent, and came incredibly close to breaking the deadlock two minutes after the break as Luisma planted a cross from the right onto the head of John Akinde who saw a powerful point-blank header parried away by Bachman.
They were made to pay just one minute later as Wrexham took the lead in controversial circumstances after Robbie Evans fired low into the bottom-left hand corner from the edge of the penalty area. However, the Barnet players were left incensed after the referee had failed to spot a clear handball by Elliot Durrell in the build-up.
Martin Allen made three changes in quick succession around the hour mark, first bringing on Keanu Marsh-Brown for Luisma Villa before making a double change with Sam Muggleton and Luke Gambin coming on for Elliott Johnson and Jon Nurse.
It was Gambin who had the hosts’ next effort, creating a chance out of nothing as he collected the ball with his back to goal, turned his man and unleashed a dipping shot from 25 yards that flew just the wrong side of the left-hand post.
Barnet were applying plenty of pressure during the closing stages but struggled to break down a stubborn Wrexham defence as they sought to hang on to their lead.
Keanu Marsh-Brown saw a sliced volley fly wide on 74 minutes after a long throw from Muggleton had been cleared to the edge of the area, and the substitute was in the thick of the action again with two minutes remaining when he surged forward before feeding Gambin, but his deflected shot could only find the side netting.
Barnet had a succession of corners and set pieces towards the end of game, even sending Graham Stack forward on two occasions during five minutes of added time, but they were unable to force the breakthrough on a frustrating night.
On the bright side, other results mean that Barnet maintained their one point lead at the top of the Vanarama Conference table despite the loss, with Altrincham to come to The Hive on Saturday.
Barnet FC: Graham Stack; Elliott Johnson (Sam Muggleton 62), Bondz N’Gala, David Stephens, Andy Yiadom; Lee Cook, Sam Togwell, Curtis Weston, Luisma Villa (Keanu Marsh-Brown 56); Jon Nurse (Luke Gambin 62), John Akinde.
Wrexham AFC: Dan Bachman; Neil Ashton, Manny Smith, Blaine Hudson, Ross White; Wes York, Robbie Evans, Joe Clarke, Elliot Durrell; Louis Moult (Andy Bishop 80), Connor Jennings.