npower League 2 action from Underhillthere was little in the way of festive cheer for the Brewers as yet again they managed to surrender all three points to a team in the League 2 relegation places. The Brewers paid the price for a desperately poor second half performance having been the much better side in the first half right up to the point where Dean Lyness and Damien McCrory contrived to hand a simple chance for Barnet's hat-trick hero Ricky Holmes to equalise just before half time. The Brewers paid the price for not building on Billy Kee's 16th minute penalty and Holmes' two second half strikes, including a spot kick gave the home side renewed hope of avoiding the drop. A late penalty from Jacques Maghoma, deep into stoppage time was not enough to deny the home side victory though.
After pondering the dilemma of what formation to go with for the trip to bottom of the league Barnet, Brewers boss Gary Rowett opted to recall Billy Kee and revert to a 4-4-2 formation. Kee replaced the suspended Lee Bell meaning that Jack Dyer kept his place in the side at the ground where he scored his only Football League goal to date in the 6-3 victory last season. After returning to fitness following a groin injury Matt Paterson returned to the substitutes bench.
Playing down the famous Underhill slope in the first half Albion but despite seeing plenty of the ball early on were unable to carve out any real chances to test the Barnet defence.
The first moment of any real danger came in the 14th minute when Ricky Holmes drove in a low cross from the right and Dean Lyness gratefully hung on.
A minute later and Albion were handed a great chance to take the lead. Jacques Maghoma was played in down the left channel. The former Spurs youngster tricked and teased his way into the area where he was upended leaving referee Andy Davies in no doubt about pointing to the penalty spot. Fresh from socring in his last start for the team Billy KEE stepped up and smashed the ball comprehensively past Graham Stack.
Maghoma was close to getting his own name on the scoresheet on 22 minutes. Kee picked out his team mate and after cutting inside he unleashed a shot that Stack could only parry out and when Calvin Zola teed up Maghoma from the rebound his chipped effort just cleared the crossbar.
Albion upped the tempo and only a good reaction save from Stack kept it to one as a teasing cross from Kee was flicked goalwards by Cleveland Taylor only for the Barnet goalkeeper to react well.
Damien McCrory was the first man to go into referee Davies notebook for a foul on Barnet player-coach Edgar Davids. It was clumsy admittedly but a yellow card was perhaps a little harsh.
Clovis Kamdjo quickly followed for a foul on Robbie Weir. The two had been having a running battle throughout the early stages of the match and eventually referee Davies decided to step in.
Barnet eventually broke free of their defensive shackles on 35 minutes and Albion were again thankful for some safe handling from Lyness as Andy Yiadom found room to cross to the back post where Albion's stopper did his work well.
Yiadom was inches away from the equaliser himself on 39 minutes as a rapid counter attack launched by Davids found Holmes overlapping down the left and his cross was perfect for Yiadom who somehow skewed his header back across goal and the Brewers defence were able to scramble it away.
From nowhere Barnet were back in it on 42 minutes. Lyness aimed a clearance at McCrory who inadvertently knocked it back towards his own keeper. The ball fell kindly for HOLMES who played onside by McCrory's pass nipped around Lyness to slot home.
Eager to restablsh their lead before the break Albion almost grabbed a second when a corner from Jack Dyer wasnt dealt with at all well by Stack and the ball fell for Zander Diamond who wastefully blasted over the bar. Another chance fell to the Brewers in stoppage time as some intricate play around the edge of the box presented a chance for Kee who sliced his shot wide.
Half time: Barnet 1-1 Burton Albion
The home side made a change for the start of the second period with the experienced former Everton and Sunderland midfielder John Oster brought on to replace Kamdjo. The home side were ahead on 52 minutes as the home side were awarded a spot kick of their own. A ball driven into the box hit an Albion hand and referee Davies immediately pointed to the spot giving HOLMES the chance to double his tally. Amid the protests of the penalty Billy Kee saw a yellow card and shortly afterwards a clash between Cleveland Taylor and Davids saw both players shown cards. Jack Dyer quickly followed for a foul on Davids as frustrations came to the surface.
It got worse for Albion as HOLMES sealed his hat trick on 66 minutes from another sweeping move. Yiadom got the better of McCrory down the right and at the second attempt he squeezed the ball into Barnet's goals man and he slotted home from ten yards out.
It was time for more changes with twenty minutes to go. Curtis Weston replaced Edgar Davids for the home side and Justin Richards was brought on to spice up the Burton attack in place of Kee. Almost immediately the former Port Vale man had a chance when Taylor's deflected cross fell at his feet but he could not keep the ball down and the chance went over the bar.
Stack had to come to Barnet's rescue on 74 minutes as Jack Dyer's curling free kick was headed goalwards by Diamond with a fingertip save required to divert the ball over the bar.
Yiadom almost applied the finish to a fourth goal for the home side as a teasing cross from left back Elliott Johnson fizzed through the six yard box.
Weir picked up his ninth yellow card of the campaign with just under ten minutes to play for a foul on Holmes right on the half way line, referee Davies producing the card on the basis of an accumulation of fouls throughout the evening.
Burton were handed a second spot kick of the evening in the fourth minute of stoppage time as Jacques MAGHOMA was bundled over in the box and he stepped up to convert what turned out to be a consolation goal.
BARNET: Stack, Fuller, Kamdjo, Byrne, Holmes, Yiadom, Hyde, Johnson, Stephens, Iro, Davids. Substitutes: Brown, Fortune, Nurse, Cowler, Weston, Oster, Barker.
BURTON: Lyness; O'Connor, Diamond, Holness, McCrory; Taylor, Dyer, Weir, Maghoma; Zola, Kee. Substitutes: Atkins, Webster, Stanton, McGrath, Richards, Palmer, Paterson.
Referee: Mr. A.Davies (Hampshire)
GOALS: Barnet - Holmes (42, 52 pen, 66); Burton - Kee (16 pen), Maghoma (90+4 pen)