Stevenage’s defeat to Barnet was a compelling drama

Teddy Sheringham

Teddy Sheringham - Credit: Archant

Match report: Barnet 3 Stevenage 2

Speaking in the week preceding his side’s visit to The Hive, Stevenage boss Teddy Sheringham made the point that ‘football is not theatre, it’s not planned’.

But although there was no script involved in Boro’s 3-2 defeat to Martin Allen’s Barnet, it was a match that was rich in drama.

Things started well for the visitors as Fraser Franks headed them in front when Steven Schumacher, back after injury, put a corner on Charlie Lee’s head, and the forward steered the ball on to Franks.

Following their lead they continued to look the better side until Curtis Weston forced Jesse Joronen into a fine one-handed save half an hour into the game.

In the centre of Barnet’s defence were two former Stevenage centre-halves, and both had a hand in the Bees’ equaliser shortly after the interval.

While Bira Dembele was the focal point of much of the pre-match talk following his release in the summer by Stevenage despite a very strong half to the season last year, it was his defensive partner Bondz N’Gala who pulled his side back level; Dembele made a nuisance of himself at a corner, and N’Gala poked home from close range.

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A minute later, however, and the visitors were back level. Schumacher and Lee were once again involved, the former’s free-kick being directed by the latter into the path of Tom Hitchcock, who made no mistake.

There was poor defending involved in both goals, but even worse was to come as the hosts drew back level thanks to Aaron McLean.

The veteran striker had looked short of the speed required to get away from defenders in the first half, but when John Akinde made a run down the left on 63 minutes he found his striker partner on the right. McLean had somehow got to the box unmarked, and he made no mistake with the chance that was presented to him.

Boro felt Barnet should then have had a man sent off when Hitchcock was brought down 35 yards from goal by Elliot Johnson, with no defenders left between him and the goal. But although the referee gave a free-kick, he deemed the situation worthy of nothing more than a yellow card.

Akinde was fast becoming the hero of the piece for the home side, and he had a big hand in their winner. Marked by Dean Wells just inside the Boro box, he fired across the face of goal and Joronen got down low only to palm the ball into the path of Michael Gash. The substitute, getting ahead of his marker, tucked home the winner.

Barnet were not content to sit back, and they pushed for more goals. Time and again they exploited space down the flanks, and Dembele almost increased their lead but for a terrific stop by Joronen to push his header over the bar.

There was still time for Boro to create one more chance, with substitute Dipo Akinyemi dragging his shot wide, but Barnet were rarely troubled and were deserved victors on a dismal afternoon for Stevenage.

Barnet: Crocombe, Hoyte, Dembele, N’Gala, Johnson, Yiadom, Weston, Togwell (Gash 57), Vilhete (Gambin 54), McLean, Akinde (Nelson 89). Subs: McKenzie-Lyle, Muggleton, Gash, Shomotun, Stevens.

Stevenage: Joronen, Franks, Hughes, Wells, Okimo, Smith (Parrett 61) Shumacher, Whelpdale, Lee (Williams 80), Pett, Hitchcock (Akinyemi 74). Subs: Day, McCombe, Jebb, Henry.