A bumper crowd (4,422) turned out at Underhill for its final game of the season and the home fans certainly went home the happier after smashing four goals past AFC Wimbledon – a first win in 17 games and only the second victory this calendar year!
For the hosts, Scott McGleish started up front with Izale McLeod, with Ben May dropping the bench. There was also a re-shuffle to the back four, with Mark Byrne drafted in as right back, and Michael Hector partnering Mark Hughes in the centre of midfield. For the visitors, Terry Brown made five changes to the line-up and young goalkeeper Jack Turner made only his second start in the Football League.
The Bees started the brighter of the two, kicking up the slope and against the wind: McGleish with the opening chance, a tame header. Despite the torrential rain making conditions difficult, Barnet played it around well (something we’ve not witnessed much this season!) and Hector and Byrne, playing in unnatural positions, were highlights – Ricky Holmes was able to utilise a number of clever balls played to him on the wing, making several decent runs towards the penalty area.
Needless to say, he was Man of the Match. The Dons’ keeper was certainly the busier keeper of the two, and was called into a save a handful of shots, mainly from distance.
The visitors’ first real attack came midway through the first half: a dangerous ball whipped into the box, but no-one there to make any real impact – the Bees’ defence, despite not having too much to do, generally looked assured.
And it was the home side that deservedly broke the deadlock: Ricky Holmes with a shot from 10 yards out.
Barnet 1–0 AFC Wimbledon (Holmes ’33)
The second half started much like the second, but with the Bees playing down slope, in the direction of the wind, that would always carry them on from where they left off. It was obvious that the goals hadn’t stopped at one, and so, they kept Turner busy in the Wimbledon goal. Jordan Mustoe with a lashing free kick, which was always going over, got a rapturous applause from the crowd.
As did Michael Hector, who had a couple of shots from distance, causing a number of good saves. It was fair to say Turner kept the Dons in the game, and so the score remained tight at 1–0.
Just before the hour mark, Wimbledon looked the best they had all game and a couple of chances in quick succession: first Sam Hatton hitting over the bar, and then Byron Harrison with a header that never really tested Dean Brill in the Barnet goal, who didn’t have too much to do all game.
Terry Brown then proceeded to make a double substitution, one of which saw Jack Midson’s return to Underhill – and he got a decent reception, with a number of home fans applauding his entrance. He made very little impact on the game.
The final 10 minutes made excellent viewing for the home faithful, not so much to the Dons’ fans, a number of which left when the second goal went in: an assist from Holmes allowing Sam Deering to tap into the corner of the net.
Barnet 2–0 AFC Wimbledon (Deering ’81)
And the third came minutes later, again, Holmes – who had an absolute blinder down both flanks – the architect. An excellent run down the wing before cutting inside and delivering a beautiful cross for Ben May (who replaced McLeod) to tap in from range – a real poacher’s goal!
Barnet 3–0 AFC Wimbledon (May ’86)
With five minutes added on by the fourth official, the Bees continued to look rampant and weren’t going to stop at three – the fourth and final goal came midway through the time added on. Mark Byrne had a shot from distance, and despite Turner saving it, he could only manage to punch it skywards and captain, Mark Hughes, was on hand to tap it into the empty net.
Barnet 4–0 AFC Wimbledon (Hughes ’90+2)
The Bees thoroughly deserved the victory and safe in League Two, AFC Wimbledon never really got out of second gear and made it easy for the home side. It was probably one of the performances of the season; every player knew their job, did their job and there could be no complaints about the score line – more than four goals could have easily been scored.
Unfortunately, the victory doesn’t confirm safety in the Football League and once again it will go down to the wire – Hereford beat Crawley away from home 3–0, and the final game of the season decides who will be joining Macclesfield Town in the Conference next campaign. Next weekend Hereford play Torquay at home, whilst the Bees go away to Burton Albion. With the gap still only two points, it could go either way…