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15 July 2014

Stevenage fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat at Barnet this evening in a competitive pre-season encounter at The Hive.

A first half Charlie MacDonald goal was enough to separate the two sides in a game which lacked goalmouth action but no end of commitment from both teams.

Stevenage manager Graham Westley handed Chris Whelpdale, Charlie Lee and trialist Connor Calcutt their first starts of pre-season with Chris Day and Jon Ashton also coming into the team.

The Skrill Premier side were first out of the blocks in glorious sunshine with former Ebbsfleet and Crawley man John Akinde having two early efforts. Fortunately for Boro his first shot flew wide and his second, a header from six yards out, header over when he really should have scored.

Good work out wide on 12 minutes by Pett saw him beat his man and whip in an inviting cross for Whelpdale, whose near post header flew over for the visitors.

On the quarter hour mark there was a real scare when Ronnie Henry went down in obvious pain after a hefty challenge. After a lengthy period of treatment from physio Paul Dando the right-back was able to hobble off and was replaced by Jo N’Guessan.

The deadlock was broken on the half hour and it was from a familiar face. A slip from N’Guessan at a crucial time allowed former Boro striker Charlie MacDonald to be played in and he calmly slotted past Day into the far corner.

Boro responded and had a good opportunity to equalise just minutes later from a free-kick. Charlie Lee stepped up to play the ball to Wells at the back post but his cross failed to trouble the Barnet defence.

Back came Stevenage again with a dangerous Charles cross well gathered by Stack before Deacon fired wide. The same player had the final chance of the half when Lee was hauled down 25 yards out in a central position, but curled his effort over.

Fresh from his goal at West Ham, Calcutt was again working hard up top and he had the first chance of the second period with a low drilled effort at Stack.

Chris Day came to Boro’s rescue on 55 minutes with a good save from Myles Weston with Jack Saville then nodding the second of two resulting corners just wide.

Just past the hour Okenabirhie replaced Charles and Whelpdale swapped with N’Guessan as Boro switched to a youthful front six. Barnet also took the opportunity to change pretty much their whole XI, with ex-Boro man Bondz N’Gala amongst the Bees subs.

Calcutt saw one shot fly over and another skew wide as he continued his efforts to impress. Deacon also glanced a header wide after a good cross from the left from Dembele. 

Gordon and Johnson came on to make it four former Boro scholars on the pitch and Chris Beardsley made a welcome return in a Stevenage shirt, coming on for Calcutt for the final 15 minutes.

Luisma flashed a volley just wide for Barnet and Okenabirhie saw a shot bounce past the post as both teams traded chances late on, with George Sykes also missing a sitter.

Deacon had the best chance of the game for Boro as the clock approached 90 minutes, seeing a fierce low effort deflect behind in a rare moment of real panic for Barnet.

Millwall are next up for Stevenage at The Lamex Stadium on Saturday in a game where Boro will look get back to winning ways.

Barnet: Stack, Yiadom, Muggleton, Mahon, Saville, Stephens, Marsh-Brown Weston, Johnson, Akinde, MacDonald

Subs: Cowler, Vilhete, Sheriff, Nurse, Lowe, Sykes, Gambin, Abdulla, Villa, N’Gala

Stevenage: Day, Henry (N’Guessan 20), Ashton (Worley 62), Wells, Dembele, Pett (Johnson 72), Whelpdale (Beardsley 75), Lee (Gordon 71), Deacon, Calcutt, Charles (Okenabirhie 62)

Subs: Beasant, Bond, Zola

Attendance: 548

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