Newport County AFC suffered their first defeat on the road for two months as Barnet kept their survival hopes alive with a 2-0 victory at the Hive.
The opening goal from the Bees came after nine minutes and it was with realistically the first chance created by either side in the London Borough of Harrow.
Striker Shaquile Coulthirst was the benefactor of some intricate passing play between ex-Exile David Tutonda and Simeon Akinola, collecting a delivery from the latter before taking a touch and placing a delightful strike into the bottom right corner.
Matty Dolan hit the crossbar with a header as the Exiles looked for an instant response, although if anything, it was the Bees who looked the likelier to score again.
Akinola and John Akinde both had efforts cleared off the County goal-line before half-time, while Akinde twice came close to start proceedings in the second-half.
The Bees would put the result beyond question with nine minutes remaining, however, as Ricardo Santos scored his third goal of the campaign to keep Barnet with a chance of safety in League 2 this season.
His powerful header from a corner-kick confirmed that all three points were staying at the Hive, as County's run without a victory against Barnet in the Football League continues for at-least another season.
A defeat for the Exiles also sees them drop two places in the League 2 table and down to 14th position following a draw for Crawley Town and a victory for Cambridge United.
Results also went against County in their quest for the League 2 play-offs, with a late goal for Lincoln City now meaning that the Exiles can no longer ascend into the top-seven and will be playing League 2 football next season.
Mike Flynn elected to name the same starting team that secured a long-awaited home victory against Swindon Town last time out at Rodney Parade.
That saw the Exiles stick to the familiar 3-5-2 formation from the first whistle at the Hive, with Aaron Collins and Padraig Amond again leading the line for County in the London Borough of Harrow.
The only changes in the matchday squad came on the bench, as Paul Hayes and Mark O’Brien were able to return in some capacity following recent calf and knee problems respectively.
Academy stars Momodou Touray and Jay Foulston, who signed their first professional contracts with the club last week, missed out but starred in the 4-1 success against the Forest Green academy earlier in the day, Touray scoring twice.
Barnet manager Martin Allen decided to make two changes to the side that drew with fellow relegation threatened side Grimsby Town last weekend.
That saw Nana Kyei miss out completely from the matchday squad with an unspecified injury, while Ryan Watson dropped to the bench as the Bees went in search of a much needed three points in their quest to avoid the drop.
Simeon Akinola and Ricardo Santos were both able to return from recent injury troubles, with the Bees lining up in a traditional 4-4-2 formation from the off at home.
The game certainly wasn’t one for the purists to start the contest, certainly a scrappy affair in the midfield to begin proceedings, although when the first chance came it was converted by the home side.
After nine minutes, Barnet were able to put together a succession of intricate passes between David Tutonda and Simeon Akinola on the left-wing. The latter of the pair eventually forced his way past David Pipe out-wide, before delivering a pinpoint delivery into the area for Shaquile Coulthirst to control and smash into the bottom corner.
Despite that somewhat slow opening at the Hive, the goal certainly sparked something in County and they could have been level within 100 seconds of the opener.
Robbie Willmott’s corner-kick was smacked onto the crossbar by a glancing header from Matty Dolan, while Dan Butler wasn’t too far away from the top corner with a long-range effort following a scuffed Barnet clearance.
The chances continued to flow at the Hive following the opening goal and this time the home side were only inches away from doubling their advantage on the quarter-of-an-hour mark.
Akinola was again the architect with another superb delivery into the area, this one met by Richard Brindley at the far-post, although Dan Butler was there on the goal-line to clear the strike that had originally made its way past Joe Day.
Brindley wasn’t that far away again after 25 minutes, his 30-yard free-kick angling towards the bottom corner before Day pulled off another world-class save to just about tip the effort around the post.
You would have to say that Barnet were certainly embodying the know-how required to continue their battle to stay in League 2 and the chances continued to fall their way as the game approached half-time.
Akinola again forced a smart save from Day when found from yet another cross from Brindley, although never really got anywhere near the power required to have a chance at finding the net.
The chances continued to fall for the Bees and they again came mere inches away from taking a healthier lead into half-time when forcing another goal-line clearance from the Exiles right at the end of the five additional minutes added on at the end of the opening half.
Day hesitated on a long-ball over the top from Santos and John Akinde almost took advantage, but Ben White came to the goalkeeper’s rescue and hooked the attempt off the goal-line.
That brought proceedings to a close for the opening 45 minutes and you couldn’t really argue with the Bees taking a lead back with them to the dressing rooms after a commanding performance.
Akinde was at his physical best against the County centre-halves and allowing Coulthirst to peel away and create space in behind, while the crosses from Akinola were always a danger at the Hive.
County had there moments in that first-half, Dolan’s header onto the crossbar probably the best of those, although the Exiles were struggling to create many chances against a team who were fighting for their lives in the Football League.
That first-half showing from the Exiles saw Flynn make two changes to the side at half-time, with the side switching into more of a 4-3-3 formation in order to try and have more ascendency on the contest.
Frank Nouble and Paul Hayes were the players to make their way onto the field, replacing Collins and Tozer in the process, although it was again the home side to create the opening opportunity in the second-half.
Akinde was again causing trouble with his pace and physicality, managing to skip past White and onto his right-foot, although Day had read the situation expertly to get a strong hand on the effort from the edge-of-the-area.
In truth, from that point until the final fifteen minutes of the contest, chances came at somewhat of a premium at the Hive.
Padraig Amond did have an effort ruled out for offside as the Exiles tried to force a way back into the contest, although the Bees were doing a fine job in stifling the game and trying to hold on to their slender advantage.
Santos forced a good save from Day when they did venture forward, although the centre-half wouldn’t be denied again with nine minutes remaining as the Bees doubled the advantage.
The Portuguese player lept highest from a corner-kick to send a bouncing header into the top-corner via a slight touch from Day, as the Bees continued their quest for League 2 survival with a well deserved three points.
The Exiles couldn’t quite force another chance at the Hive despite the seven additional minutes of time added on, meaning it will be League 2 football for the Exiles next season with the play-offs no longer a possibility.
County: Day, Pipe (C), White, Bennett (Martin 77’), Demetriou, Butler, Dolan, Tozer (Hayes 45’), Willmott, Amond, Collins (Nouble 45’)
Subs not used: Bittner, Reid, O’Brien, Sheehan
Barnet: Ross, Tutonda, Nelson, Santos, Sweeney (C) (Watson 55’), Brindley, Weston, Akinola (Payne 82’), Nicholls, Akinde, Coulthirst (Akpa-Akpro 79’)
Subs not used: McKenzie-Lyle, Clough, Bover, Fonguck
Referee: Robert Lewis
Attendance: 1, 816 (240 AWAY)
Next up for County: Accrington Stanley (24th April 2018)