County returned to the capital city for the second time in three days to claim a huge three points at Barnet, as Alex Reid continued his scoring streak with a brace in an eventful 1-2 win at The Hive.
Reid pounced either side of the break following Ephron Mason-Clark’s second-half leveller to seal another away win for County, after the hosts had seen Anthony Wordsworth dismissed with a straight red for a lunge on Sam Minihan – with the win in North London moving The Hatters up to fifth in the National League.
Boss Jim Gannon opted for the same 3-4-1-2 shape as in the impressive 2-0 win at Bromley on Saturday, although there were two personnel changes – with Jordan Williams and Sam Minihan replacing Mark Kitching and Adam Thomas on the left and right flanks respectively.
The duo to drop out were both named on the bench, as Gannon stuck with the same sixteen which secured all three points at Hayes Lane three days prior.
The Hatters went into the tie knowing that a win would see County reach a tally of five straight away wins in all competitions – the highest since Gannon himself guided County to eight straight away wins back in 2008.
And County almost had the dream start inside two minutes when Richie Bennett made good inroads down the right and teed up strike partner Alex Reid at the angle, although the man in form Reid could only strike wide whilst off balance.
Barnet responded in kind through attacking midfielder Anthony Wordsworth, when the former Colchester man clipped over the crossbar from close-range after a low cross in from the Bees left.
Jordan Williams, deployed as a wing-back on his first competitive start for County, burst down the left and crossed for Bennett moments later, and although the big striker improvised well to chest at goal, ‘keeper Scott Loach was alert to parry away as The Hatters searched for an opener.
The same duo combined again just a minute later, as Williams cut inside from the left cleverly and pulled back for the arriving Bennett to fire at goal – only for a Barnet deflection to carry the effort into the hands of Loach.
Inih Effiong, the scourge of County last season in a 2-0 win for Dover at Edgeley Park, almost had the hosts in front when he rose to meet Alexander McQueen’s cross from the right, but the big striker could only make glancing contact and head wide of Ben Hinchliffe’s goal.
Effiong should have put Peter Beadle’s struggling side in front just five minutes before the break, however, when he met Alex McQueen’s cross at the back post and looked for all the world to have opened the scoring in front of the unguarded goal – only for Hinchliffe to make himself big and superbly block from close-range.
But it was the man in form, Alex Reid, who did fire County into another away lead, as the former Stevenage forward latched onto Richie Bennett’s through ball and coolly lifted over Loach just before the interval for his fourth strike in five games.
Barnet debutant Bilel Moshni went into the book as Barnet furiously protested for offside, but the goal stood, and County took a hard-fought lead into the half-time break.
But the hosts were level less than five minutes into the restart, with the tricky Ephron Mason-Clark grabbing his second goal in as many home games against The Hatters, as the winger stood unmarked at the back post to finish emphatically past Hinchliffe after a cross in from the left.
County looked to respond instantly, and almost regained their lead in the blink of an eye when Bennett superbly brought down a long ball and raced through on goal, only to see his fizzibng finish cannon off the post and away.
Barnet were reduced to ten men just before the hour mark when Anthony Wordsworth went in high on Sam Minihan, with referee Alan Dale brandishing a straight red card for the forward.
The hosts seemed spurred on by the dismissal, however, and the game descended into a rather scrappy affair soon after; although The Hatters did look to make their numerical advantage count, with Connor Jennings and Lois Maynard both heading wide with good chances.
The introduction of Mark Kitching seemed to give County fresh impetus though, and the former Hartlepool man soon crossed excellently for Bennett to flick on and grab another assist as Reid pounced to prod home his fifth in as many games in the 75th minute to restore County’s lead.
And Gannon’s men successfully navigated three minutes of stoppage time to seal a big win and extend the side’s fine unbeaten away run.
County line-up (3-4-1-2): Hinchliffe; Hogan ©, Keane, J. Jennings; Minihan, Maynard, Rooney, Williams (Kitching, 65), C. Jennings (Thomas, 90); Reid, Bennett (Britton, 86).
Subs not used: Barnes, Croasdale.