Carlisle United 2
Carlisle United will be promoted before Easter if their current form, or anything approaching it, can be maintained for a few more weeks. Barnet, one of the Third Division's better sides, were a poor match for the leaders in all departments at Underhill last night and Carlisle may take some stopping at a higher level next season too.
With the division's two leading scorers, Dougie Freeman of Barnet and Carlisle's David Reeves in opposition it was somehow inevitable that the first half would finish goalless, but there was clear evidence of the confidence and patience that comes with Carlisle's 14-match unbeaten record.
Barnet had the best chances, most notably when Paul Wilson's shot from a free-kick squirmed through the legs of Tony Caig, only to be cleared off the line. But Carlisle's composure in midfield was impressive and it was only a matter of time before Barnet's blanket offside trap would be breached, with Reeves and the skilful Rod Thomas the most likely candidates.
Barnet started the second half with a clear sense of purpose, and should have gone ahead when Freedman's cross found Michael Tomlinson unchallenged, 10 yards from goal. His shot beat Caig but bounced behind off the post.
Carlisle quickly recovered and began to time their runs with ominous accuracy, while Barnet's attacks dried up to nothing. The goal which had long seemed imminent arrived with 15 minutes to play. Reeves, under little pressure, headed down for David Currie, equally untroubled eight yards out. He beat Newell without a second thought.
The second was equally predictable as Barnet pushed up in search of an equaliser. Simon Davey sauntered through the defence before scoring with a careful shot to Newell's right.
Barnet (4-4-2): Newell; McDonald, Primus, Mutchell, Walker; Tomlinson, Hoddle, Hodges (Gibson, 81), Wilson; Freeman Cooper. Substitutes not used: Adams, Phillips (gk).
Carlisle United (4-4-2): Caig; Gallimore, Mountfield, Walling, Joyce (Robinson, 90); Conway, Davey, Prokas, Currie; Thomas, Reeves. Substitutes not used: Thorpe, Elliott (gk).
Referee: G Pooley (Bishops Stortford).