Barnet 1-0 Port Vale

By Paul FletcherBBC Sport at Underhill

An Izale McLeod penalty was enough for Barnet to beat Port Vale and avoid relegation from the Football League.

McLeod struck a minute after the restart and, with Aldershot's defeat of Lincoln, the Bees climbed out of danger and up to 22nd in League Two.

Barnet deserved their win, with Mark Byrne and Joe Devera also going close.

Marc Richards wasted a chance for Vale with the score goalless but, with their play-off hopes effectively over, they were a poor second at a feisty Barnet.

The result ensured that the Bees avoided relegation on the final day of the season for the second successive year.

However, the difference with 2010 is that Barnet did not have their fate in their hands on Saturday, but had to rely on Aldershot defeating relegation rivals Lincoln.

Word seeped through in the second half that the Imps were losing, helping to create a triumphant atmosphere inside Underhill as the north London side extended their stay in the Football League for at last another year.

It has been a dramatic and difficult season for Barnet, who in rookie boss Guiliano Grazioli are on their fourth manager of the campaign, but at least it ended on a high note, with the Bees finishing one point above the Imps.

There was an unmistakable passion among the home side, with no-one exemplifying this more than midfielder Sam Deering, who made countless lung-busting runs and last-ditch challenges.

Barnet made the running from the opening whistle but Daniel Leach headed over from a good position, while Clovis Kamdjo twice failed to connect with free-kicks into the area.

The first clear opening of the match came after 24 minutes when Byrne showed great determination to dispossess Ritchie Sutton before bearing down on goal.

Byrne then placed his shot beyond Chris Martin but it rolled agonisingly wide of the far post.

The Bees, attacking uphill in the opening half, appeared to have most of the momentum but they were lucky to escape when Justin Richards' free-kick skimmed the wall and dropped invitingly for Marc Richards, who headed wide when it seemed easier to score.

The hosts refused to be thrown out of their stride and created another good chance when skipper Devera met a free-kick from the left but he headed over the crossbar.

Mark Marshall was a menace down the left and forced a stop at the near post after cutting inside and shooting but it was goalless at the break.

That all changed immediately after the restart when striker McLeod dusted himself down after Gareth Owen had fouled him to put the Bees ahead from the spot.

Barnet pushed hard for a decisive second, with Kamdjo inches away from hooking the ball beyond Vale substitute goalkeeper Stuart Tomlinson, while Rob Taylor made a great block to deny Mark Hughes.

Shortly afterwards a ripple of cheers around the ground indicated that Aldershot had taken the lead against Lincoln, strengthening Barnet's grip on their place in the Football League.

Vale substitute Gareth Roberts cleared off the line and Tomlinson made a superb save from the luckless Byrne before home keeper Sam Walker brilliantly saved at the feet of Marc Richards after Lewis Haldane had played him through.

By that stage the reaction in the stands made it clear that Lincoln had conceded twice more and Barnet saw out six minutes of injury time to claim a deserved victory.


Barnet manager Giuliano Grazioli told BBC London 94.9:

"As a player here, winning promotion was great, winning golden boots, and playing at Old Trafford fantastic occasion but this has surpassed everything.

"the players have been a pleasure to work with credit to them, we had a task in hand to be in it on the last game of the season and to go one better when nobody gave us a chance is fantastic.

"I knew we'd win the game today and it was a great performance under those circumstances, those boys are a great bunch."

Port Vale caretaker manager Mark Grew told BBC Radio Stoke:

"I've just told them that to put in a performance like that is unacceptable to Port Vale Football Club.

"That was an absolute total and utter disgrace of a performance and some of them should count themselves lucky that they have two-year contracts.

"I'm not naming names but some of them haven't given their all for Port Vale Football Club, and I wonder sometimes how they can go home and look themselves in the mirror."

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