Barnet open their Checkatrade Trophy account with a point but lose on penalties...
Barnet were beaten 5-3 on penalties at MK Dons in their first Checkatrade Trophy fixture but took a point after drawing 2-2 in normal time.
Goals from Alex Nicholls and Curtis Weston put the Bees 2-1 up after Ben Reeves’ opener. However, Joe Walsh levelled to force a penalty shootout competition for the right to a second point.
Martin Allen named a strong side for the game, making only three changes. Josh Vickers, Sam Muggleton and Mauro Vilhete came into the team. Jamie Stephens, Ryan Watson and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro dropped down to the bench.
MK Dons had the better of the early chances and twice went close inside the first three minutes. Winger Daniel Powell was played through but couldn’t find a way past Vickers when one-on-one. The ball fell for Reeves but he side-footed wide.
Reeves got it right after 17 minutes and it was a considerably harder chance. The midfielder picked up possession on the right-hand side of the penalty area and fired an unstoppable left-footed effort into the far corner which left Vickers with no chance.
Ten minutes later John Akinde nearly levelled for the Bees but, instead, saw his header drop wide at the far post.
Barnet had another chance to equalise just before the half-hour mark. A free-kick from the right was aimed towards Michael Nelson but the skipper couldn’t get enough on his header to trouble keeper Lee Nicholls.
Dons midfielder Reeves, having found his range with the opener, almost added a second a minute later when he arrowed wide from 20 yards on the run.
And Reeves had another attempt before the half was out, bringing a good save out of Vickers with a stinging effort from inside the penalty area.
Bees boss Allen made two changes at the break, bringing Justin Amaluzor and Akpa Akpro on for Taylor and Muggleton, and the pair were key in the turnaround.
The Dons went close to doubling their advantage before either of the changes could take effect, Vickers was again called upon to parry away an effort from Powell.
Amaluzor’s first involvement came six minutes after his introduction, crossing for Nicholls who knocked down for Weston to lash over.
The young Barnet winger played a part in the Bees’ next chance, nodding Akpa Apkro’s long ball inside for Elliott Johnson to sprint onto. The left-back tried to pick out the run of the advancing Akinde but his pass into space was over hit.
Shortly after Weston cushioned an inch-perfect ball over the Dons’ backline for Akinde to latch onto. But the big number nine’s touch carried the ball into Nicholls’ hands as he moved into position to shoot.
But, having threatened for much of the second half, Barnet drew level in the 62nd minute. Amaluzor drove into the box from the left and, when the ball spun up in the air, Nicholls steered a volley into the empty net.
Ten minutes later the Bees took the lead. Akpa Akpro crossed from the left and Akinde knocked down for Weston to bundle home from inside the six-yard box.
But Barnet could not hold onto their lead and, with eight minutes remaining, Karl Robinson’s side found an equaliser against the run of play when centre-back Walsh headed Dean Bowditch’s free-kick beyond the dive of Vickers.
With the prospect of a penalty shootout looming both sides pushed for an equaliser. Dons skipper Dean Lewington and substitute Brandon Thomas-Asante went close for the hosts while Amaluzor had Barnet’s best chance.
Full time meant a point for each side but a penalty shootout for the opportunity to earn a second point.
Barnet matched the Dons for their first three spot kicks with Weston, Nicholls and Nelson all converting. However, Akpa Akpro fired the Bees’ fourth kick over the crossbar before Thomas-Asante netted to win the shootout 5-3.
The Bees return to EFL League Two action on Saturday with a trip to Newport County.
Barnet: Vickers; Vilhete, N’Gala, Nelson (c), Muggleton; Togwell; H. Taylor (Amaluzor HT), Weston, Muggleton (Akpa Akpro HT); Nicholls, Akinde (Tomlinson 79).
Subs not used: Stephens (GK), Watson, Champion, J. Taylor.
MK Dons (5): Bowditch (scored), Walsh (scored), Powell (scored), Maynard (scored), Thomas-Asante (scored).
Barnet (3): Weston (scored), Nicholls (scored), Nelson (scored), Akpa Akpro (missed).