Ten-man Barnet edged out1-0 by Wrexham.Barnet were narrowly defeated by Wrexham at the Racecourse Ground on Saturday, going down 1-0 to the Dragons in an eventful game that saw John Akinde sent off shortly before the hour mark.
Robbie Evans had given the hosts the lead midway through the first half before Akinde received a second booking for simulation, but that did not stop the Bees from throwing everything at a game from which they can rightly feel disappointed not to have claimed at least a point.
Ahead of the game Martin Allen named just the one change to the side that defeated Woking at The Hive last time out, handing a first start to loanee Conor Clifford who came in on the right side of midfield in place of Luisma Villa who dropped to the bench.
Fresh from their FA Trophy quarter-final win over Halifax in midweek, the hosts started strongly and put Barnet under some early pressure with Steve Tomassen sending a glancing header from a corner wide of goal.
A ricochet in midfield then sent top scorer Louis Moult through on goal, but after excellent covering by Sam Togwell forced the striker wide Graham Stack was able to smother his shot behind.
However, the goalkeeper was unable to stop the Dragons taking the lead on 24 minutes after Robbie Evans arrived late into the box to steer a cut-back from Louis Moult – who had been played through by a ball over the top of the defence – into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Barnet began to find their feet after the goal and finished the half strongly with a period of pressure.
They had a good chance when Charlie MacDonald collected a flick-on by John Akinde but the skipper was then bundled off the ball as he shaped to shoot with his penalty appeals falling on deaf ears.
The Bees nearly found an equaliser through an unlikely source on 40 minutes when Bondz N’Gala controlled a Cook cross into the box before fashioning a yard of space to shoot, only to see his effort deflected over for a corner by an outstretched leg.
Barnet had a second appeal for a penalty waved away a minute before the break when another cross by Cook appeared to hit a hand, but they were forced to make do with a corner from which Jack Saville got a header on target.
The visitors started the second half in the same way in which they finished the first, and should have levelled when John Akinde muscled his way onto a poked pass through by MacDonald to go through one-on-one, but saw his shot cannon back off Coughlin’s leg with the ball destined for the far corner.
It was to prove to be the big striker’s last contribution of the afternoon, when, having been booked in the first half for an accumulation of fouls, he received a second yellow card on 57 minutes when referee Ian Hussin adjudged to him have dived as he tumbled under pressure on the edge of the area.
Martin Allen had only just introduced Michael Gash for Curtis Weston, and he responded to the red card by throwing on another substitute in Luisma Villa in place of Lee Cook as Barnet searched for a way back into the game.
The Spaniard nearly made an immediate impact with a free kick from 30 yards five minutes later which looked destined for the top corner before Coughlin scrambled across to tip the ball away for a corner.
Barnet then made their last roll of the dice with just over twenty minutes remaining by bringing on Luke Gambin in place of Conor Clifford.
It was the two strikers that were left on the pitch that nearly combined to draw Barnet level two minutes later, as Michael Gash lofted a ball behind the defence for Charlie MacDonald to run onto, but having controlled well the captain could not force his low shot beyond Coughlin who came to the Dragons’ rescue once more.
Barnet threw everything at the hosts during the closing stages with Luisma seeing two shots blocked and one more deflected behind for a corner during a frantic finish, although Wrexham did nearly wrap things up when they hit the post with a late counter.
Despite five minutes of added time which even saw Graham Stack stay forward for attacks the Bees were unable to find a breakthrough, with opposition goalkeeper being named as Man of the Match as the game drew to a close.
Following the defeat Barnet are now four points clear of both Bristol Rovers and Macclesfield, with a game against fourth-placed Grimsby Town to come next up at The Hive next Saturday.
Wrexham AFC: Andy Coughlin; Steve Tomassen, Manny Smith, Luke Waterfall, Neil Ashton (c); Connor Jennings, Robbie Evans (Jay Harris 64), Joe Clarke, Kyle Storer, Kieron Morris (Wes York 68); Louis Moult (Andy Bishop 80).
Barnet FC: Graham Stack; Andy Yiadom, Bondz N’Gala, Jack Saville, Elliott Johnson; Conor Clifford (Luke Gambin 68), Sam Togwell, Curtis Weston (Michael Gash 54), Lee Cook (Luisma Villa 59); John Akinde, Charlie MacDonald (c).
Attendance: 2,727 (107 Barnet).