Bees leave South Wales with a point after strong second half...
John Akinde struck twice on his 100th league start to secure Barnet a point in a dramatic 2-2 draw at Newport County in EFL League Two.
Akinde’s brace, his tenth and 11th goals of the season, looked to have given the Bees back-to-back wins until a 89th minute Newport penalty.
The Exiles went in front after 33 minutes when Ben Tozer headed home from close range.
However, Barnet turned the game on its head after the restart and drew level when Akinde nodded home. The Bees’ number nine then nudged the visitors ahead with five minutes remaining.
Yet the drama did not end there. With a minute of normal time remaining Newport were awarded a penalty and Sean Rigg dispatched calmly to ensure the game finished level.
Martin Allen made just one change from the side which won 2-0 at Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday. Alex Nicholls came in on the right-hand side of midfield with Luke Gambin missing out.
Newport County, under the stewardship of new boss and former Barnet striker Graham Westley, named ex-Bee Mark Randall in their starting XI.
The Bees were quick out the blocks and created two chances in as many minutes. Alie Sesay, starting again after an impressive return to the fold at Wycombe, met a corner from the right but could only nod wide.
A minute later Sam Muggleton curled a free-kick narrowly over the bar leaving backup County keeper James Bittner scrambling.
But the visitors suffered a blow after 14 minutes when Gavin Hoyte, making his second start of the season after recovering from injury, was forced off following two full-blooded challenges out on the touchline.
Newport’s best chance of the opening 45 minutes arrived midway through the first half when Rigg hooked a half volley towards goal which Josh Vickers parried to safety.
Mauro Vilhete, moved to the left of midfield with Gambin absent, warmed the gloves of Bittner after half an hour but could not find a way past him from 20 yards.
But three minutes later Newport led. Josh Sheehan delivered a corner which the Bees failed to deal with and Tozer was on hand to glance past Vickers.
Ryan Watson, brought on for the injured Hoyte, had a chance seven minutes before the break but Barnet again found Bittner equal to the strike from outside the 18-yard box.
The Exiles had the last chance of the half two minutes before the whistle, skipper Scot Bennett heading into Vickers’ grasp.
Bees head coach Allen made a second substitution at half time, bringing Shaun Batt on in place of Curtis Weston and switching to 4-4-2.
But it was Newport who had the first chance of the second period, Vickers haring off his line to push away Rhys Healey’s effort.
Healey then fed Queens Park Rangers loanee Reece Grego-Cox but he fired over at the near post as the angle diminished.
Watson had Barnet’s best two chances of the early stages of the second half. The first was a volley from the edge of the penalty area which he steered over after a Muggleton throw bounced out invitingly.
The second was a rather better chance. Akinde evaded two poor County challenges before cutting back for the former Leicester City man who arrowed narrowly over Bittner’s bar from a central position.
Newport might have doubled their lead in the 65th minute when former Bee Randall, who scored against the Exiles last season, ghosted into the penalty area only to plant his shot wide of the far post.
By now the Bees were piling on the pressure to take something back to London with them. Another Muggleton throw nearly paid off when the ball fell for Sesay at the back post but he couldn’t turn home.
However, in the 76th minute the Bees did bag an equaliser and it came from another Muggleton bomb into the penalty area. Akinde was the beneficiary, heading past Bittner to level.
And the Bees were by no means done there. Five minutes from the end Akinde doubled up, rifling into the top corner from 15 yards to give Barnet the lead for the first time.
It was short lived though, and four minutes later the Exiles levelled from the penalty spot, Rigg sending Vickers the wrong way to ensure a share of the spoils.
Next up for Barnet is a visit from Hartlepool United on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).
Barnet: Vickers; Hoyte (Watson 14), N’Gala (Akpa Akpro 59), Nelson (c), Muggleton; Nicholls, Sesay, Champion, Vilhete; Weston (Batt HT); Akinde.
Substitutes: Stephens (GK), Dembele, H. Taylor, Kyei.
Newport County: Bittner; Bignot (Barnum-Bobb 87), Bennett (c), Jones, Cameron; Grego-Cox (Myrie-Williams 82), Tozer, Randall (Green 77), Sheehan; Healey, Rigg.
Substitutes: Beauchamp (GK), Butler, Compton, Wood.
Referee: Graham Salisbury.
Attendance: 2,381 (86 Barnet supporters).