Barnet 0 Stevenage 1: Pett earns Boro the points
- Credit: Archant
Stevenage maintained their unbeaten start to the Sky Bet League Two season as they battled to derby victory at Barnet, despite playing with 10 men for 55 minutes at The Hive.
Tom Pett scored the only goal of the game in the 27th minute with a spectacular volley, but Dale Gorman was sent off 10 minutes before half-time.
The home side bombarded the Boro box from there on but the visitors somehow survived the siege to take a valuable three points back to The Lamex Stadium.
Stevenage manager Darren Sarll made one change from the team that beat Grimsby Town 3-1 last Saturday, with Chris Whelpdale replacing Alex Samuel on the right of midfield. But Jack King was not fit enough to make the squad as he continues to recover from injury.
The visitors had the game’s opening chance inside two minutes with Jonathan Smith blazing over from the edge of the area after Joe Martin’s pull back.
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Boro had another chance with just less than 15 minutes played as a long ball over the Barnet defence by Whelpdale was brilliantly controlled by Danny Newton, who cut the ball back for his team-mate who had continued his run into the area, but Whelpdale fired just over.
Barnet had their first attempt on goal with Charlie Clough heading tamely into the arms of Joe Fryer in the Stevenage goal.
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And, roared on by their large travelling support, Boro opened the scoring when Martin’s deep corner was headed by Luke Wilkinson at the far post, finding Pett who connected sweetly with a right-footed volley that cannoned off the inside of the left post before finding the back of the net.
The goal gave Sarll’s side the impetus as they looked to double their lead, with Barnet struggling to cope with Stevenage’s movement in the final third.
But in the 34th minute came a moment that changed the flow of the game as Boro midfielder Gorman lunged in with force on Barnet winger Mauro Vilhete and referee Richard Clark produced a straight red card for the Northern Irishman, reducing the visitors to 10 men.
Barnet were now in the ascendancy with the extra man and very nearly equalised just moments later as Clough rose highest from a free-kick but his header came crashing off the crossbar before Stevenage cleared to safety.
The chances kept coming for the Bees with Fryer tipping a Vilhete shot onto the post and Coulthirst firing into the side netting just before half-time.
Former Southend United man Coulthirst then raced on to Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro through ball but could only drag his shot wide of the post when one-on-one with Fryer as Stevenage survived the Barnet siege to head into the break with a 1-0 lead.
Fryer was forced into action early in the second-half, getting down to his left to tip a curling Jack Taylor effort round the post.
The 10 men of Stevenage sat deep as they looked to protect their lead, hitting Barnet on the counter attack at every opportunity.
Ben Kennedy – who replaced Danny Newton 10 minutes into the second period – was causing problems for the Bees defence and flashed a shot across goal following a superb turn in the area just past the hour mark.
At the other end, Barnet striker Akpa Akpro drove a low shot just past the upright from the edge of the box.
Stevenage then had a penalty appeal turned away after a Matt Godden shot appeared to strike the arm of Ricardo Almeida Santos inside the area.
The home side once again laid siege to the Boro goal in the remaining 20 minutes, with Fraser Franks making a number of heroic blocks and Fryer punching clear a dangerous through ball before holding onto a deflected David Tutonda drive.
Stevenage had another nervous moment as the game headed into injury time, with the ball rolling just past the post following a goalmouth scramble, but Sarll’s men held on impressively to take all three points.
Barnet: Ross, Clough, Santos, Campbell-Ryce, Coulthirst (Amaluzor 66), J Taylor, Tutonda, H Taylor (Bover 62), Fonguck (Akinola 72), Vilhete, Akpa Akpro. Unused sub: Stephens, Kyei, Shomotun, D Smith.
Stevenage: Fryer, Henry, Franks, Wilkinson (Toner 73), Martin, Whelpdale (Vancooten 82), Gorman, J Smith, Pett, Godden, Newton (Kennedy 54). Unused subs: Day, Beautyman, Samuel, Conlon.