Barnet made their first ever trip to play Alfreton Town on Saturday, with legendary head coach Edgar Davids making a rare journey north.
The Impact Arena encounter lived up to its pre-match anticipation, although the Reds clearly had not read the script as they achieved a highest-ever position of third in the Skrill Premier with a 3-1 win.
The margin of victory could have been greater as missed chances, particularly in the first half, let Barnet off the hook and the visitors’ defence experienced a torrid time from the menacing combination of Job Ayo Akinde and Paul Clayton.
Clayton almost broke through after two minutes when he glanced a header wide from a John McGrath corner, then two useful crosses in response by Keanu Marsh-Brown needed dealing with by Nick Fenton and Lathaniel Rowe-Turner.
The opening goal arrived in the 13th minute after Tom Shaw had been brought down by Mark Byrne 25 yards out in a central position, with McGrath picking out the very far corner of the net with a scintillating free-kick that keeper Graham Stack had no chance of reaching.
Shaw’s shot from 20 yards needed to be palmed behind by experienced keeper Stack then Akinde was sent on a run at goal by Michael Wylde’s 19th minute through-ball, but the striker opted to chip the Barnet keeper and the ball drifted harmlessly wide.
Curtis Weston was off target for Barnet from 30 yards then Wylde’s close range header from Alfreton’s fourth corner in the 22nd minute was held by Stack, then at the other end Wylde had to concede a corner as Andy Yiadom picked out Harry Crawford at the near post.
Clayton then sent a back post header crashing against the top of the crossbar from Daniel Meadows’ 25th minute cross, and the visitors were beginning to look shell-shocked.
To be fair Barnet were playing some neat, attractive and sometimes slick football but were not able to overcome some resolute defending by the Reds.
However Alfreton continued to cause problems and Meadows had a shot blocked after taking a return pass from Lathaniel Rowe-Turner and Shaw fired over from 22 yards following another McGrath corner.
The North London team did have a chance in first half added time when Keanu Marsh-Brown dispossessed Meadows only to fire into the side-netting.
Barnet grabbed a 49th minute equaliser in some style though with a move down the right initiated by Yiadom that concluded with Marsh-Brown smashing the ball past Ross Atkins from the edge of the area after it had been helped on by Weston.
Barnet were looking as if they would take the game by the scruff of the net for a few minutes and Ahmed Abdulla’s shot struck colleague Mauro Vilhete before diverting innocuously wide.
Suddenly though the issue was settled by two goals inside seven minutes from Clayton, the first in the 54th minute after Akinde had shrugged off two defenders to feed him ten yards out for a low drive past Stack.
Clayton followed that up with a near post side-footed goal after more superb approach work by Akinde in the middle before Meadows supplied the cross.
Akinde almost grabbed a fourth Reds’ goal within seconds of the restart after dispossessing David Stephens to advance threateningly on goal, but his shot just evaded the target.
Barnet were limited to long range shots after that as Alfreton took control and Clayton might have bagged a hat-trick but for his 80th minute header rebounding off Weston’s back.
In the closing stages sub Josh Law made tracks down the left before seeing his low angled drive held by Stack, then in response Atkins held Yiadom’s 25 yarder that had taken an awkward deflection off McGrath.
ALFRETON: Atkins, Wood, Fenton, Wylde, Rowe-Turner, McGrath, Bradley, Shaw, Meadows [Law 72], Clayton, Akinde. Other subs: Franklin, Westwood, Wishart, Taylor.