Barnet 0 Wycombe Wanderers 1
The Blues are flirting with promotion and the Bees are staring relegation in the face, but there was little to choose between the two sides at Underhill this evening.
In the end, Chris Westwood’s first-half stoppage-time header gave Wycombe their first victory at Barnet since 1985, but not before keeper Nikki Bull had pulled off several excellent saves to keep the home side at bay.
Manager Gary Waddock recalled Gareth Ainsworth to the side at the expense of Scott Rendell with Kevin Betsy moving to the left despite his man-of-the-match performance on the right last Saturday. Ben Strevens played up-front alongside Stuart Beavon.
In an unmemorable first-half, the Bees started brightly and only a Marvin McCoy block prevented them from drawing first blood as early as the first minute.
The next clear-cut opportunity fell to Wycombe when Kevin Betsy’s inviting cross caused a scramble in the Barnet area with Bees’ keeper Jake Cole doing just enough to deny Stuart Beavon.
The next scramble was at the other end, and Wycombe were fortunate to escape when a Barnet corner was headed goalwards by Clovis Kandjo and Bull stretched to claw it out, only for Rossi Jarvis to head the ball back against the woodwork before McCoy prevented it crossing the line.
A couple of long-range efforts from Matt Bloomfield and Stuart Lewis both missed the target before Bloomfield wasted a highly promising breakaway by electing to misplace a pass instead of taking a shot himself.
Bull made another save from Mark Byrne before Westwood scored the only goal of the game when he found himself unmarked in acres of space and headed Bloomfield’s corner into the net with only seconds of stoppage-time remaining.
The Bees probably felt hard done by to be trailing at half-time, but playing downhill in the second-half, they would have fancied their chances of salvaging something from the game, and an uncharacteristic error from Stuart Lewis almost gifted them an equaliser shortly after the break.
The midfielder’s underhit back-pass was pounced on by Izale McLeod but Bull narrowed the angle and did enough to deflect the striker’s shot narrowly past the post.
Bull made further saves from Marshall and McLeod to preserve Wycombe’s slender lead, while at the other end, Betsy saw two screamers clear the Barnet crossbar, and substitutes Scott Rendell and Matt McClure both had attempts on goal, McClure’s shot being saved by Cole, and Rendell’s glancing header hitting the crossbar.
Barnet’s Jarvis was sent-off in the final minute and Wycombe held on for a valuable three points.
It’s nice to be able to report that the defence looked solid tonight. Waddock has signed a real gem in Marvin McCoy and the youngster gets better with each passing week. Chris Westwood and Leon Johnson looked comfortable together in central-defence and Westwood had a particularly impressive game.
Betsy caused the Bees all sorts of problems and was the pick of the midfielders in my book, while up-front Beavon worked tirelessly but was often isolated.
Men of the Match – Bull & Westwood.
Line-up & ratings
Bull (7), McCoy (6), Westwood (7), Johnson (6), Foster (5), Ainsworth (5) (McClure 71 (4)), Lewis (5) (Montrose 87 (n/a)), Bloomfield (5), Betsy (6), Strevens (4), Beavon (5) (Rendell 77 (4))