Stevenage’s recent run of form came to an abrupt halt with a 3-2 defeat at Barnet this afternoon.
Twice ahead through Fraser Franks
and Tom Hitchcock, Boro were looking comfortable but twice the Bees equalised before going ahead late on through sub Michael Gash.
Teddy Sheringham made two changes from the side that drew the previous weekend with Jerome Okimo
coming in for the injured Connor Ogilvie (hamstring) and Steven Schumacher
returning from injury to replace Jack Jebb, who dropped to the bench.
The first chance fell to Boro on six minutes after good early pressure from the visitors. An Okimo cross was flicked on by Lee and met by Chris Whelpdale
, but his header was straight at debutant Max Crocombe.
A minute later a poor kick from the Oxford loanee – his third in a matter of minutes – saw Lee collect possession and try his luck from distance but his shot sailed wide.
Sam Togwell saw his delivery from a free-kick sail harmlessly wide before Boro broke the deadlock before the 10 minute mark from a corner won by Chris Whelpdale
. Steve Schumacher drifted the ball in, Lee headed back across goal and Fraser Franks
was there to head home to send the Boro fans wild at the opposite end.
Togwell again tried his luck from 25 yards with no success and it capped a good opening 20 minutes for Stevenage, who were happy to keep possession and press the Barnet backline, whilst frustrating the hosts’ attacking momentum.
With 25 minutes on the clock Boro temporarily found themselves down to nine men with Jerome Okimo
receiving treatment for a facial wound and Dean Wells
also off the field of play changing his boots. Jesse Joronen put the ball out to allow both to return, but Barnet kept possession and flooded forward, with the giant Finn having to be sharp to save down low from Curtis Weston.
It sparked the hosts into life for the next few minutes and Joronen was again there to mop up after Hughes tackled Hughes with an excellent last-ditch challenge inside the box, with former Boro man Bira Dembele then firing straight at Joronen on the half hour.
Soon Boro were back on the attack, with Lee flashing a cross right across the face of goal with Hitchcock instead waiting on the penalty spot for a cut-back.
10 minutes before the break Crocombe came out brilliantly to save at the feet of Whelpdale after the winger won possession on the flank, exchanged passes with Lee and burst into the box at speed.
Sam Togwell again blazed high and wide for a third time on 37 minutes and Boro pushed forward in the closing moments of the half, but had to settle for a one goal lead at the break.
A Barnet corner within a minute of the restart saw Whelpdale nearly head into his own net but it wasn’t long before Martin Allen’s men drew level. This time Dembele was there to hold up in the box and N'Gala slotted home from close range.
However parity lasted less than 90 seconds as Boro promptly went back up the other end and restored their lead. In similar vein to the opening goal, Schumacher swung in a delivery, Lee flicked on and there was Hitchcock to head into the back of the net.
The game tooed and froed until just past the hour when Barnet again struck back. Akinde broke forward and held off Hughes, before spreading the ball out to McLean who steadied himself and fired low into the bottom corner for 2-2.
A minute later it should have been 3-2 when the ball fell for Akinde inside the box but the big striker blazed over.
The Bees were then mightily lucky to keep 11 men on the field when last man Elliott Johnson took Hitchcock out when clear on goal on the counter. Referee Adcock opted to show the defender just a yellow, much to the dismay of the travelling fans and Boro bench. Schumacher took aim from 30 yards but fired the resulting free-kick just over.
replaced a tiring Hitchcock for the final 18 minutes however however four minutes later Barnet took the lead for the first time in the game – and in rather simple fashion. Akinde again found space behind Wells and the big front man patiently waited just outside the box before slotting the ball across for Gash to tap home at the far post.
3-2 nearly became 4-2 moments later when a recycled Bees corner saw Gash cross for a thumping Dembele header, only for Joronen to produce the save of the game and tip over.
Sub Dean Parrett
forced Crocombe into a low save from the edge of the area with seven minutes remaining and when six minutes of added time was signalled Boro pushed forward in earnest.
A Parrett free-kick caused chaos in a half-chance and then Akinyemi created a golden chance to equalise but fired wide after latching onto a Williams flick and rounding two defenders.
After a poor first half a revitalised Barnet, led well at the back by Man of the Match Dembele, will be delighted to earn all three points. Stevenage, meanwhile, are left to figure out how they lost that game and learn lessons quickly ahead of next weekend’s trip to Cambridge United.
Barnet: Crocombe, Hoyte, Johnson, Dembele, N’Gala, Yiadom, Weston, Togwell (Gash 56), Vilhete (Gambin 53), Akinde (Nelson 89), McLean
Subs not used: McKenzie-Lyle, Muggleton, Shomotun, Stevens
Stevenage: Joronen, Franks, Wells, Hughes, Okimo, Schumacher, Smith (Parrett 60), Whelpdale, Lee (Williams 80), Pett, Hitchcock (Akinyemi 72)
Subs not used: Day, McCombe, Jebb, Henry
Referee: James Adcock
Attendance: 2,480 (681 away)