Alfreton Town’s first ever game in the northern suburbs of London saw their impressive winning run stutter to a halt on Saturday with Edgar Davids’ side avenging an earlier defeat at the Impact Arena.
Barnet have a brand new stadium with a playing surface that withstood torrents of rain and the brightest floodlights imaginable, but relocated a good distance from their home town the club had to supply coaches for some of their fans - meanwhile Alfreton took a larger number than usual on their travels with the visitors’ tally being 123.
The ground is also set alongside a high embankment where Jubilee line Underground trains rumbled past at regular intervals in a surreal backdrop.
Godfrey Poku had arrived on loan from Mansfield Town since the New Year’s Day win over Wrexham and the midfielder was thrown straight in at the deep end by manager Nicky Law, and did not disappoint him.
Lathaniel Rowe-Turner had received the green light from Luton Town to extend his loan period with the Reds until the end of January, so he was able to continue at the back, but striker Paul Clayton was an absentee having been indisposed.
This formation left Job Ayo Akinde as the solitary front-runner until Michael Wylde was withdrawn early in the second half as a precaution with a hamstring niggle, Danny Wishart replacing him but operating much further forward than the central defender.
Barnet made much of the early running without troubling Reds’ keeper Jon Worsnop, who was tasting defeat for the first time since joining from FC United of Manchester six games earlier, the closest the hosts came to scoring in that period being a third minute free-kick from Luisma Villa.
On 25 minutes a pass from Chris Westwood fell short of Daniel Meadows on the half-way line, which allowed Jake Hyde to intercept and embark on a run at goal that was only halted by the vigilance of Wylde.
Westwood though supplied Akinde with the pass that heralded Alfreton’s first real chance after 24 minutes, but Curtis Weston and fumbling keeper Nick Jupp managed to avert the danger between them.
Akinde then took too long to take advantage of Dan Bradley’s pass into the target area and Dani Lopez was able to block, then Lopez was on hand again to head clear a 28th minute Daniel Meadows free-kick.
Poku had a shot blocked at source nine minutes later after Rowe-Turner had linked with Akinde on the left, then five minutes before half-time Lopez struck with venom from 30 yards with the ball dipping late in flight to enter the net via the crossbar and that was the only goal of the game.
There was an immediate response from the Reds with Wylde playing Akinde through, but a stretching tackle by David Stephens kept Barnet ahead, then Jupp had to track a long punt by Bradley Wood that did not quite have the same effect as Lopez had.
Three minutes after the break Akinde turned neatly but shot weakly from a Meadows cross before Barnet started pressing forward again, with Mark Byrne heading wide and Hyde scuffing a good chance off target moments after testing Worsnop with a low drive.
Lopez sent Villa through on 66 minutes, but a stubbed shot was pounced upon by Worsnop, then Darran Kempson superbly tackled back as Hyde broke through seven minutes later, with Byrne heading wide from the ensuing corner.
Another hopeful dink from Wood was gathered by Jupp with ten minutes remaining, then almost into added time Worsnop produced his customary memorable save to thwart Harry Crawford before Villa curled another chance wide.
Right at the end the Bees were almost stung by a late Alfreton attack, but Akinde’s header was held by Jupp from a Josh Law free-kick, the midfielder having returned to action for the final 25 minutes of the contest after a lengthy injury lay-off.
ALFRETON: Worsnop; Westwood, Wylde (Wishart 56), Kempson, Rowe-Turner, Franklin, Wood, Meadows (Shaw 59), Poku, Bradley (Law 65), Akinde.
Subs not used: Fenton, McFadzean. Att: 1,400 (123).