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Report: Cheltenham Town 1-2 Barnet

26 December 2016

Goals from John Akinde and Curtis Weston give Barnet a 2-1 win at Cheltenham Town on Boxing Day...

Barnet gave Rossi Eames a late Christmas present by handing the interim Bees boss a 2-1 win at Cheltenham Town in EFL League Two – his second in three games at the helm.

The Bees were made to battle hard for maximum points at  the LCI Rail Stadium but had more than enough chances to put breathing space between themselves and the Robins but found home keeper Russell Griffiths in good form. 

Curtis Weston capitalised on slack Cheltenham defending after eight minute to nudge the Bees in front.

But Danny Wright ensured the Robins went in level at half time by heading home a minute before the half-time whistle.

However, Barnet picked up their second win under Rossi Eames and Henry Newman when, in the 51st minute, John Akinde slid home his 17th of the season.

Interim boss Eames made two changes from the side beaten by Stevenage last weekend, bringing Alex Nicholls and 

Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro in for Ryan Watson and the injured Ephron Mason-Clark.

Meanwhile, Harry Taylor and Jamal Campbell-Ryce returned to the bench following injury.

Barnet set their stall out early on and immediately began causing the hosts problems from the wide areas.

After just five minutes Weston crossed from the right for Akinde but the Bees forward could not steer his header beyond keeper Griffiths.

Three minutes later Barnet made the breakthrough. Elliott Johnson crossed from the left for Luke Gambin who crashed a volley against the bar. 

The Bees reacted quickest to the loose ball, Weston snatching possession and ramming home.

From there chances came thick and fast for Barnet. 

Akpa Akpro – on his return to the starting XI – was inches away from doubling the lead five minutes later but instead nodded Gambin's cross just wide.

In the 21st minute goalscorer Weston lobbed forward for Akinde to give chase. The big number nine outmuscled 

Cheltenham skipper Aaron Downes but keeper Griffiths stood up to make a good save.

Just after the half hour mark the Bees saw another chance go astray. Gambin crossed from the left for Akpa Akpro who laid off for Nicholls on the edge of the box. But the former Exeter City man lashed over first time.

Eight minutes before half time Cheltenham came within a whisker of levelling when Wright squeezed a low shot against the near post from six yards.

Within a minute Barnet responded in kind; Akinde breaking free of the Robins' back four and stroking against the far post with Griffiths beaten.

An end-to-end half drew to a close with Cheltenham equalising a minute before the whistle. Jack Munns floated in a free-kick and Wright nodded beyond Stephens to level.

The second half started in a much more sedate fashion than the first ended. That was until Barnet re-took the lead six minutes after the restart with a well-taken goal.

Bees keeper Stephens released the ball quickly following a free-kick and, on the break, Gambin released Akinde who nonchalantly tucked past Griffiths to put Barnet ahead.

The visitors nearly added a third two minutes later. Nicholls forced a good parry from Robins stopper Griffiths but Gambin could only poke the rebound wide.

Cheltenham very nearly pulled level just after the hour mark. Substitute James Dayton skipped down the right and picked out Billy Waters with an inviting cross which the forward could only hook into the side netting.

Chances continued to pile up for Barnet with Akinde heading off the back post in the 68th minute following the second phase of a Gambin free-kick.

Substitute Campbell-Ryce had only been on the field a minute when Akinde cut back from the left-hand side. But the winger's first-time shot flew wide without troubling Griffiths in the Cheltenham goal.

Five minutes of additional time passed without incident and the Bees clinched another win, moving back within a point of the play-off places. 

The Bees return to action at Luton Town on New Year's Eve (3pm kick-off).

Barnet: Stephens; Vilhete, Nelson (c), Dembele, Johnson; Nicholls (Campbell-Ryce 72), Weston. J. Taylor, Gambin (Sesay 85); Akinde, Akpa Akpro (Muggleton 74).

Subs: Vickers (GK), H. Taylor, Kyei, Amaluzor.

Cheltenham Town: Griffiths; Barthram, Dickie, Downes, Parslow (Holman 58), Cranston; Pell, Storer, Munns (Dayton 58), Waters, Wright (Morgan-Smith 72). 

Subs: Kitscha (GK), O'Shaughnessy, Rowe, Arthur.

Referee: John Busby.

Attendance: 3,441 (211 Barnet supporters).


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