By Gerry PrewettIn their first ever away non-League game in 95 years Bristol Rovers lost out to a Barnet team Managed by their bête noire Martin Allen. John Akinde opened his account at the Hive with a goal on 22 minutes. Another new signing, Charlie MacDonald, doubled their advantage two minutes before the half-time break, after Rovers goalkeeper Will Puddy spilled Mauro Vilhete's long-range shot.
Allen’s Barnet team has been the stand out team all season. They are nine points clear of second placed Grimsby and eleven points ahead of Rovers.
On Saturday at third placed Woking, Bees midfielder Luisma Villa Lopez turned in Elliot Johnson's cross after just 90 seconds.
Woking defender Mike Cestor stayed up following a corner and was in the right place at the right time to find the net with a cool, low finish after Scott Rendell had teed him up inside the penalty area from a Chris Arthur cross.
Earlier, Martin Allen's table-topping Bees had controlled the tempo of an absorbing clash, without seriously bothering their former keeper Jake Cole.
They kept it tight in defence restricting Woking's attacking threat, but the Cards played with much more vigour after the interval and a battle of few clear chances could have gone either way.
Allen was pleased with his side’s performance on Saturday. Speaking after the game he commented, “It was a great game. Both teams gave everything that they have got. There was a great atmosphere with both sets of supporters giving everything that they had as well. It was a bit of a derby coming just around from North London.
“Garry Hill has put together a really good team here. He has got some really good players and it is a hard place to come and play. They have just won 3-1 away to Halifax so let’s not kid ourselves; this was always going to be a tough afternoon.”
“The pitch was excellent and it was a great game to watch. They pressed us, we managed to keep them out apart from one little break, and I thought that we were unlucky on a couple of other occasions not to take a bigger lead but overall I would say that it was a good performance from us and on we go now to Tuesday and Bristol Rovers.”
“We play on Tuesday night now. We have got through the last couple of weeks with a couple of really good players suspended. We have got them returning to our squad on Tuesday night so that will be a boost for everybody.
“The boys are very good. They are very focused and very calm. You will see in a minute that every player will leave our dressing room taking some of the equipment to the bus. We have got no kitman, we are the kitman. We just do it exactly the same week in, week out.
“They clean their own boots and they take their own gear home and wash it every day. They are a quality bunch of lads and I am very, very proud of them all.”
The Bees last visit to the Mem was on 1st February 2013, Rovers showed patience and composure, and were rewarded when Fabian Broghammer opened the scoring with just over ten minutes left on the clock.
Barnet then levelled thanks to Harry Crawford, but Ryan Brunt marked his home debut with an impressive late strike to seal the victory for Rovers and make it three wins out of three.
Until 2011/12 the Bees had never beaten the Gas, but that changed with a vengeance, the Londoners winning both games 2-0, with Izale McLeod and Mark Byrne scoring the Londoners goals at the Mem with McLeod and Clovis Kamdjo hitting the back of the net at Barnet. The clubs first met in the FA Cup in 1983/84 season with a 0-0 draw at Underhill and Rovers winning the replay 3-1.
When the Bees played their only season in (the Old) Division 2 in 1993/94 they met Rovers for the first time in a League encounter. Rovers had been relegated the previous season and the Bees promoted. Marcus Browning and John Taylor scored the goals that gave Rovers a 2-1 victory at Underhill in October, with Kelly Haag being on the scoresheet for the Bees.
In the return fixture having lost their previous five games Rovers were in dire need of a victory and a Justin Channing hat-trick lead the way to a 5-2 win. An own goal by Alan Walker and a contribution by Marcus Stewart completed the scoring for Rovers, whist Russell Edwards and Paul Wilson scored for the Hertfordshire team.
Players who have played for both teams include Giuliano Grazioli who joined Barnet from the Gas, with Junior Agogo and £110,000 going the opposite way. Danny Senda, Michael Leary, Anwar Uddin, Matt Lockwood and Chris Plummer have also all played for both teams. Another notable player for both teams is John Akinde, made 18 first team appearances for the Gas during a loan spell in season 2010/11 while with Bristol City.
Barnet ended last season in eighth and they were expected to improve on that this season. The level of improvement could hardly have been expected.