Barnet go two points clear at the top of the table with comfortable win over Dover.Barnet put on a show in front of the BT Sport cameras to return to the top of the Vanarama Conference table on Wednesday night with a 3-0 victory over Dover Athletic at the Crabble.
A second strike in the space of four days for Luisma Villa and goals either side of half-time from substitute Luke Gambin were enough to give the visitors their fifth consecutive win and send them two points clear of Halifax Town at the summit.
Barnet made two changes to the side that overcame Alfreton at the weekend, with Elliott Johnson replacing the injured Jack Saville at left-back and the match-winning hero Luisma Villa coming in on the side on the right side of midfield in place of Luke Gambin.
After a cagey opening to the game it was the hosts who had the first real chance on twelve minutes when Richard Orlu won the ball on the edge of the area and slipped it through to Stefan Payne. However,
Graham Stack quickly raced off of his line to produce a crucial save, palming away the shot with his trailing arm.
Just how important that save would prove to be soon became clear, as they quickly went straight up the other end to take the lead. It was the two new faces in the starting line-up who combined, with Johnson swinging in a pinpoint cross from a deep position on the left-wing for Luisma to place a looping header just inside the far post to register his second goal in as many games.
Dover responded however, with former Barnet player Nick Deverdics going close midway through the first-half, shooting narrowly wide having manufactured some room on the edge of the box before Graham Stack made a good covering save to deny Soloman Taiwo at the back post.
Barnet then nearly doubled their advantage with an identical chance of their own. This time it was Lee Cook who picked out Luisma, but Mitch Walker did well to parry out his volley at the back-post from close range.
There was a moment of panic for the visitors on the half-hour mark, when Stefan Payne was allowed to race through after David Stephens misjudged the flight of a long ball forward, but Sam Togwell did well to get back and mop up the danger.
The Bees suffered a blow shortly before the interval, when captain Charlie MacDonald was forced off following a collision with Dover goalkeeper Mitch Walker. Luke Gambin was the man to replace him with Curtis Weston taking over the armband as Martin Allen shuffled his formation.
The substitute would make an immediate impact, scoring with virtually his first touch of the ball on 43 minutes. Some lovely interplay between Johnson and Cook down the left set the winger free in the box, and after fizzing a low ball across the face of goal Gambin was on hand to slide the ball into an empty net and give the Bees a two-goal lead.
Dover made two changes of their own as they searched for a way back into the game, replacing Nathan Alder with Jake Reid up front at half-time and throwing on another striker in Ricky Miller in place of defender Richard Orlu on 58 minutes as the hosts cranked up the pressure.
However, Barnet continued to look dangerous and it was they who scored the third goal of the evening to take a commanding lead on the hour mark. Once again it came from a move down the left hand side, with Elliott Johnson providing another assist for Luke Gambin to finish low under the keeper from close range for his second goal of the night.
The young midfielder then came within inches of completing a remarkable hat-trick from the bench, dummying his way across the edge of the penalty area before unleashing a shot that took a deflection and looped just over the crossbar with the goalkeeper stranded.
Dover’s best opportunity of the second half came with twenty minutes remaining, when a cross from the left found its way to Miller at the back post, but with the ball bouncing through a crowd of bodies the chance took him by surprise and he slashed his shot wide.
Dover continued to press for a consolation goal, with both Elliott Johnson and Luisma Villa joined Andy Yiadom in the book for halting their attacks.
Yet with the pace of both Gambin and substitute Jamal Lowe offering an outlet and the assistance of another change in Sam Muggleton doubling up in midfield, they were able to reach stoppage time without too many scares.
The home side were not going down without a fight however, and struck the crossbar during three minutes of stoppage time through substitute Chris Nanetti, who first saw a free-kick hit the woodwork before unleashing a shot from 25 yards that also bounced back off the upright.
But Barnet would hold on to clinch their seventh win in the first eight games of the season and their sixth clean sheet of the new campaign.
Remarkably, the Bees are still yet to concede a goal on the road as they head to struggling Telford on Saturday looking to stretch their lead at the top of the table.
Dover Athletic: Mitch Walker; Tyrone Sterling, Connor Essam, Tom Bonner, Richard Orlu (Ricky Miller 58), Craig Stone (c); Soloman Taiwo, Matt Lock, Nick Deverdics; Stefan Payne (Chris Nanetti 66), Nathan Elder (Jake Reid 46).
Barnet: Graham Stack; Elliott Johnson, Bondz N’Gala, David Stephens, Andy Yiadom; Lee Cook (Sam Muggleton 55), Sam Togwell, Curtis Weston, Luisma Villa; John Akinde (Jamal Lowe 63), Charlie MacDonald (c) (Luke Gambin 38).