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By Harry Kemble at Underhill Stadium
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
League Two: Barnet 2 Oxford United 2
A Jake Hyde brace against Oxford United kept Barnet in touch with the rest of League Two.
The 22-year-old scored first on five minutes with a fine header before coming up with the goods again late on to draw Barnet level with a low instinctive finish into the bottom corner.
The result sees Barnet – now rooted to the bottom of the table below Aldershot and Wycombe Wanderers - to continue an upsurge in the quality of performance under the guidance of Mark Robson and Edgar Davids.
The match started at frenetic pace with both sides venturing deep into each other’s half early on.
As early as the fifth minute a deflected shot from midfielder Andy Yiadom led to a Mark Byrne corner.
The ensuing flag kick was deftly looped into the net off the head of centre forward Jake Hyde.
Keeper Ryan Clarke desperately scrambled across his goal but the ball just evaded his fingertips.
It was a great start from Barnet, desperate to break away from the relegation places.
However, almost from the re-start Oxford United scored a dramatic equaliser on six minutes.
Bees’ supporters were up in arms after losing the lead so quickly against a side, who amazingly they have never beaten.
James Constable headed the ball down into Sean Rigg’s path and the ex-Port Vale made no mistake with an expert finish into the left hand corner of Graham Stack’s goal.
The old adage sprung to mind: ‘you are never more vulnerable when you have just taken the lead’.
Fans barely had time to catch their breath before Bees’ Jon Nurse had a glorious chance to go ahead again.
Jake Hyde – the source of all things good in the opening exchanges – broke down the right and supplied a bouncing cross straight into the path of Nurse.
Sadly for Barnet, Nurse failed to connect at all with the ball.
Halfway through the first half a Mark Byrne header was sloppily addressed by Clarke in the Oxford goal.
The greasy ball slipped through the keeper’s hands and the ball was desperately cleared by the U’s defence only for the ball to be then diverted off the line by John Mullins.
Mullins’ impressive recent form had led to murmurings that the versatile defender would be recalled back to his parent club Rotherham ahead of tonght’s round of matches.
As the match drew towards half time the game slowed as both teams tried to find a rhythm.
But, Oxford’s biggest threat, Rigg, tried to adding to his tally three minutes from the break.
The attacking midfielder turned and curled a left footed shot from outside the area. However, he was never in control and the ball flew over the upright.
The second half started exactly the same as the first - except this time it was the away side to take the lead.
Peter Leven swung in a free kick down the slope and Andrew Whing lept above Barnet’s defence to score a goal reminiscent of the opening goal of the game.
A glancing header from the 28-year-old shaven head sailed into the top left corner to put United 2-1 up inside the opening two minutes of the second half.
The goal was the right-back’s first goal for two seasons.
Barnet needed to stay in touch with Oxford a task that Clovis Kamdjo decided to take into his own hands.
Close to the hour mark the Cameroonian midfielder struck a speculative shot at Clarke’s goal from 30 yards.
It was a controlled effort but sadly for Robson’s men it just crept over the bar.
Speculative shots soon became the order of the night with the swirling wind making it difficult for either side to defend.
Rigg hit a cross-cum-shot from the left and the ball clipped the bar leaving Stack stranded on his goal line.
But it was Barnet who squared the match in the 70th minute when the diminutive Holmes hit a low cross and Hyde was on the other end to make it 2-2.
The goal was a real striker’s finish and player/coach Davids, who sat out tonight’s match through suspension, was lept off the bench to celebrate with the rest of the coaching staff.
Holmes could have won the match for Barnet seven minutes from time when he timed an excellent volley that fizzed past the left post.
The match had one finally offering when a Mullins’ header ricocheted off the right hand post, bounced along the goal line before hitting the other post.
Thankfully for Barnet supporters David Stephens and Krystian Pearce managed to keep out the visitors in the final moments to give Barnet a valuable point.
Barnet: Stack, Brown, Fuller, Stephens, Pearce, Kamdjo, Byrne, Holmes (Lee 86), Yiadom, Nurse, Hyde.
Unused Substitutes: Fortune, Edgar, Cowler, Weston, Lowe, Johnson
Oxford United: Clarke, Whing, Mullins, Wright, Capaldi, Heslop (Pittman 60), Chapman, Leven, Rigg, Potter, Constable.
Unused Substitutes: Raynes, Forster-Caskey, Brown, Worley, O’Brien, Marsh.
Referee: Mark Haywood