Barnet’s sixth defeat in 11 matches under head coach Kevin Nugent proved to be his last game at the helm at The Hive with Rossi Eames now taking charge for the remaining four matches of this campaign following the 2-1 defeat at Exeter City.
In what would prove to be his final team selection Nugent made three changes from the team that was beaten by Luton Town the previous Saturday. Simeon Akinola, Luke Coulson and Jack Taylor gained recalls at the expense of Curtis Weston, Jamal Campbell-Ryce and Fumnaya Shomoton, who all dropped to the bench.
The Bees shot themselves in the foot, not once, but twice, in the opening exchanges at St James Park and were soon trailing by two goals after only six minutes played.
Before the Grecians took the lead they had already hit the frame of the goal, but after the Bees had repeatedly failed to effectively clear their lines an opener for the home side was inevitable.
In the fourth minute good team work by David Wheeler and Reuben Reid set up Jordan Moore-Taylor to hit the ball home from close range as the Barnet defence were noticeably absent.
Just two minutes later Jake Taylor found Wheeler, who from a narrow angle found the back of the net with the Barnet rearguard again unable to defend their penalty box.
At this stage a rout looked likely but Exeter purposely retreated into their shell and simply asked Barnet to try and break them down.
Barnet had got themselves in a position where they had to push players forward in almost reckless abandon; setting the scene for the home side to hit them on the break.
Ruben Bover troubled Exeter keeper Christy Pym from a free-kick following a foul on the midfielder, Akinola flicked a header wide of the mark and Harry Taylor took a pot shot from distance but a goal on the break always looked the more likely outcome.
Exeter were content to defend in numbers, confident that the damage they had imposed in the early stages would be sufficient to separate the teams come the final whistle.
Barnet were able to construct moves in front on the Exeter defence but when they attempted to get the ball into the final third the home defence were quick to sniff out any danger.
The exception to this rule would be if the Bees could get the ball to Campbell-Ryce, who again delivered good quality crosses from both flanks.
Akinde did have a number of half chances to reduce the deficit until he eventually did so in the 69th minute. Akinola slipped a neat pass into the striker, who without ceremony blasted the ball past Pym.
The goal boosted Barnet’s hopes of a leveller and the home defence were now beginning to show signs of nervousness.
As the clock ticked down Exeter’s defenders were prepared to put their bodies on the line to keep Barnet out.
Akinde could have equalised for the Bees in stoppage time, but the key moments in the match were at the very beginning.
It is possible to have a grain of sympathy with the Bees for failing to take anything from this fixture, but when they gift two early goals to a side that is determined to cement their place in the play-off positions, a defeat is the most likely outcome.
Nugent leaves his post by mutual agreement; but three consecutive defeats and just a solitary win during his tenure would surely have focused minds.
Barnet: Stephens, H Taylor, Clough, Santos, Johnson, Vilhete, J Taylor, Bover (Weston 68), Coulson (Campbell-Ryce 45), Akinola (Amaluzor 78), Akinde. Subs not used: Nelson, Shomotun, McKenzie-Lyle, Tutonda.