August 13, 2014
(Taken from the Barnet and Potters Bar Times, London. By Tom Bodell)
John Akinde scores his first goal for Barnet to set the Bees on their way to a 2-0 win over Bristol Rovers at The Hive.
First-half goals from John Akinde and Charlie MacDonald sealed a comfortable 2-0 home win over Bristol Rovers for Barnet, who remain top of the Conference after two games.
Akinde opened his account for Barnet after 22 minutes, displaying power, pace and poise to plant the ball into the far corner. Two minutes before half-time, MacDonald was on hand to double the Bees’ advantage.
Martin Allen named an unchanged side, with new signing Adam Mekki not included in the matchday 16.
Rovers boss Darrell Clarke handed a debut to recent signing, Neal Trotman, whilst summer additions Stuart Sinclair, Lee Mansell, Andy Monkhouse and Matty Taylor all started.
With heavy rain before kick-off, the two sides initially struggled to get into their stride but as the rain abated, Barnet carved out a couple of half-chances.
Andy Yiadom and Mauro Vilhete – again employed down the right-hand side of midfield – both whipped in dangerous low crosses, with Vilhete’s causing confusion between Rovers goalkeeper Will Puddy and the covering defender.
Referee Mr Robert Whitton awarded the free-kick but appeared unsure if a red card offence had taken place and McChrystal escaped without a caution.
Akinde had another sight of goal when he saw his header saved by Rovers keeper Puddy, down low at his near post.
In the 22nd minute, the forward scored his first in black and amber, displaying all the attributes which persuaded Allen to bring him to The Hive from Alfreton.
Released down the right-hand side by strike partner MacDonald, the beefy forward accelerated away from his marker before advancing into the penalty area and sliding low past Puddy as the angle diminished.
The experienced McChrystal was struggling to deal with the pace of the Barnet side, never more evident than when Vilhete almost nipped in behind, with the former Tranmere defender just managing to hook the ball away from the Portuguese flyer before he was clean through.
Bristol Rovers had their best chance in the 37th minute; Monkhouse’s shot deflecting into the path of Jake Gosling, who blazed over from an acute angle.
The Pirates carved out another chance two minutes later, Lee Mansell striding into space before testing Stack with a firmly-struck effort from 20 yards.
Mansell, who joined in the summer from also-relegated Torquay, had a second effort almost immediately after, this time driving straight into the palms of Stack from 18 yards after neat build-up play.
Two minutes before the break, the Bees doubled their lead through skipper MacDonald.
The opportunistic Vilhete let fly from 20 yards and caught out by the greasy surface, Rovers keeper Puddy could only watch helplessly as the ball bounced off him and into the path of MacDonald, who tucked into the empty net from six yards.
Barnet saw out the rest of the half to take a comfortable lead into the break.
The first chance of the second half fell the way of the visitors, Matty Taylor racing onto a flick-on to test Stack with a low half-volley, which the player-coach got down to well to palm away.
That set the tone for the first 15 minutes of the second period, with Clarke’s side enjoying their best period of the game.
Rovers kept up the pressure and a cross from the right found Mansell, who headed easily into the grasp of Stack from a good, central position.
Clarke’s side undoubtedly had the better of the game after the break but were unable to take full advantage of their superior possession and territory.
Another chance went Rovers’ way shortly after the hour mark, a suspiciously offside-looking Taylor racing onto a ball over the top before seeing his shot from an acute angle blocked by Elliot Johnson for a corner.
Akinde had a rare Barnet chance with 20 minutes left on the clock, striding forward before seeing his route to goal blocked by substitute Daniel Leadbitter.
From the resulting corner, Stephens looped a header over Puddy at the back post, only to see a Bristol Rovers defender stoop to head the ball to safety.
With Rovers committing men forwards in the hope of pulling one back, the Bees looked increasingly dangerous on the break.
However, the Gas still retained a threat of their own and Taylor was unlucky to see his header fly narrowly over before Monkhouse fired dangerously across the face of goal, his delivery begging for a touch.
The Bees never looked unduly threatened through and held on to maintain their 100 per cent record after two matches of the new Conference season.
Barnet: Stack; Yiadom, Stephens, N’Gala, Johnson; Vilhete, Weston, Togwell, Cook; MacDonald (Nurse 90), Akinde.
Subs: Saville, Marsh-Brown, Luisma, Muggleton.
Bristol Rovers: Puddy; Lockyer (Leadbitter 51), Trotman (Parkes HT), McChrystal, Brown; Sinclair, Gosling (Brunt 65), Mansell, Monkhouse; White, Taylor.
Subs: Clarke, Harrison.
Referee: Robert Whitton.