Lee's transformation is complete as he nets Barnet winner

League Two: Barnet 0 Luton Town 1

Saturday, 8th April 2017, 6:15 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 8:18 pm
Isaac Vassell shoots for goal against Barnet

The transformation of midfielder Olly Lee from villain to hero in the eyes of Luton Town supporters was all but completed this afternoon as he scored a cracking second half winner at Barnet.

It was just two weeks ago when Lee was the subject of criticism from a section of the away fans at Colchester United during a disappointing 2-1 defeat for the Hatters.

Recalled by manager Nathan Jones for the 1-0 win over Blackpool last weekend though in what was a man-of-the-match display, he followed that up by producing a finish of real quality with his left foot on 66 minutes to decide this scrappy encounter at the Hive.

Although Town's hopes of a top three spot have all but realistically gone now, it was still a vitally important win for Nathan Jones' side, as Town leapfrogged Stevenage into fourth place, extending their gap over eighth to a welcome six points, with a vastly superior goal difference too.

Lee's winning strike was the only real moment of composure for the visitors in a match they struggled to ever get going bar a 20 minute spell at the start of the second period, as had Barnet, more specifically, John Akinde's finishing been better, it could have been a very different afternoon.

Hatters boss Nathan Jones made just one change to the side that beat Blackpool, an enforced alteration too as with Matt Macey recalled by Arsenal on Wednesday evening, Stuart Moore won the battle with Craig King to take the number one jersey.

Moore had a few shaky moments early on and was thankful to a great headed clearance under extreme pressure by Alan Sheehan, before a routine cross almost drifted in at the far post.

The visitors couldn't create a great deal in the first half, Lawson D'Ath getting to Stephen O'Donnell's pass ahead of keeper Jamie Stephens to win a corner, while Isaac Vassell shanked wide.

Vassell was then fashioned a shooting opportunity for Danny Hylton, who saw his drive blocked, before Vassell went alone, denied by a smart stop from the onrushing Jamie Stephens.

The hosts really should have ahead on 27 minutes, when John Akinde raced through the middle, getting the better of Scott Cuthbert, but his shot was timid and easy for Moore.

Ruben Bover didn't miss by much on the half hour, as the Bees had a good spell prior to the break, an intricate move leading to Mauro Vilete scuffing at Moore and Charlie Clough glancing a corner off target.

If Akinde's first chance should have been taken, his second on the stroke of half time, definitely had to be, when a long ball caught out Cuthbert leaving Bees' towering striker clean through.

However, he produced an effort un-befitting of a striker who has 23 league goals to his name this term, with Moore sticking out a leg to turn over the bar.

Luton's on-loan Reading stopper then claimed Charlie Clough's header from the corner as the deadlock remained at the break in a first half, Town had never really got going in.

Jones' charges made a far better start to the second period, Lee sending a left footer over the top, however they were indebted to yet another excellent stop from Moore on the hour mark, as he flung himself to his left to claw out Mauro Vilhete's header that was arrowing into the top corner.

With Stephen O'Donnell struggling at right back once more, Town made a double change, replacing the full back and Vassell for Luke Gambin and Ollie Palmer.

The moved worked a treat too, as Hylton got away on the right and his cross into the box saw Palmer battle for possession, with the ball dropping perfectly to Lee who controlled his left footed effort into the corner for an excellent first goal of the season.

Having the goal advantage and looking like they could add to their tally, Hatters then started to almost try and hold on to their victory, conceding territory in the closing stages.

Barnet could and should have made them pay too, with Glen Rea's last ditch clearance preventing Justin Amaluzor's shot finding the corner, and Akinde missing two great chances that should have been meat and drink to him, heading one tamely at Moore, and the other not even requiring a save from Town's recalled keeper.

When Curtis Weston's ambitious volley was gathered it was game over for the hosts, as Luton could celebrate a second win and clean sheet to boot with their nearly 1,700 strong contingent in the away end, who have hopefully changed their lyrics to the song for Town's midfielder for good.

Barnet: Jamie Stephens, Elliott Johnson, Richard Santos, Curtis Weston (C), John Akinde, Ruben Bover (Justin Amaluzor 68), Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Harry Taylor, Fumnaya Shomotun (Jack Taylor 61), Mauro Vilhete (Simeon Akinola 75), Charlie Clough.

Subs not used: Kai McKenzie-Lyle, Michael Nelson, Luke Coulson, David Tutonda.

Hatters: Stuart Moore, Scott Cuthbert, Glen Rea, Alan Sheehan, Stephen O'Donnell (Luke Gambin 62), James Justin, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Olly Lee, Lawson D'Ath (Jonathan Smith 89(, Isaac Vassell (Ollie Palmer 62) Danny Hylton.

Subs not used: Craig King, Jordan Cook, Jack Marriott, Frankie Musonda.

Booked: Taylor 48, Rea 60, Hylton 90, Campbell-Ryce 90.

Attendance: 3,313 (1,687 Luton).

Referee: Darren England.

Hatters MOM: Stuart Moore. Two crucial saves. The one from Vilhete proved a real game-changer.