Trips to Eastleigh are generally very good for Barnet, drama, goals, and wins go hand in hand but this was likely to be a much tougher test with the Spitfires still in with a chance of gate-crashing the play-off’s while the Bees were just playing for pride.
Sam Beard returned to the starting line-up for Simon Bassey’s men while Matt Preston missed out through injury meaning only four players were named on the bench with Liam Daly the latest player to be furloughed.
The opening minutes had a clear pattern of the hosts in possession of the ball while the Bees were set up to break on the counter with the pace of Tomi Adeloye and Ephron Mason-Clark, but the game plan went out of the window inside ten minutes as keeper Adam Parkes came for a ball he was never going to get and Tyrone Barnett was gifted an easy header into an open net.
Mason-Clark looked the most likely to get the Bees back into the game, but a lack of ball retention and then unable to win it back started to show although the hosts seemed happy to sit on their one goal lead.
Just after the half hour mark Joe Tomlinson stung the palms of Parkes who saved well, pushing the ball over the bar when the Spitfires man thought he had extended the lead for the home side.
The Bees though exerted some pressure on the Eastleigh defence as the half wore to a close, Adeloye having an effort cleared off the line just after Themis Kefalas was also close to levelling the scores but adjudged offside, to send the home side in front at the break.
The best spell of the game for Barnet came at the beginning of the second half, as the hosts invited the pressure, Mason-Clark testing Joe McDonnell whose save fell at the feet of Harry Taylor, quickly blocked by a home defender and away for a corner.
Adeloye was next to try his luck ten minutes into the half and again McDonnell was equal to his effort followed by another shot which didn’t find the target. The Bees had a penalty appeal turned down after the hour mark when Mason-Clark had weaved his way into the box and the shot from Ben Richards-Everton appeared to strike a hand.
Still the Bees pressed forward, Alex McQueen looping a header over the bar and Mason-Clark’s next effort almost turned into his own net by an Eastleigh defender.
Twenty minutes from time the game swung back in favour of the hosts, Adam Marriott getting beyond the visitors backline and brought down by Parkes in the area which earned the young keeper a yellow card, Tomlinson putting the penalty into the net comfortably.
Substitute Sam Smart notched a third for the Spitfires in the final ten minutes, a slight deflection off Beard as the ball went across Parkes and into the net to seal the points and another loss in the column for the Bees.
Four left to go now and like most fans it appears Bassey can’t wait for the season to get to its end, the lack of playing staff being allowed to pick from despite a squad of 36 players is becoming a joke. I appreciate there is little to play for but only being able to name four players on the bench is ridiculous given the number of players we have.
Solid from Beard on his return and the usual energy from Sam Skeffington in midfield, and as Bassey said in his post-match interview we could and should have had two or three goals, but not taking chances you don’t get anything from games. A big learning curve for Parkes from this one in his first loan spell in senior football, showing not all games are going to be in his favour good test of character to see how he responds on Tuesday evening, no time to dwell on this one.
Solihull on Tuesday night, the first one I’m missing since the turn of the year which amounts to 25 games in a row as I’m actually heading to watch some live football locally, something different to write about next week and as it’s a friendly nothing riding on it, but then you can say the same about Barnet’s season since February.