The hosts were left rocked on their heels by Jon Nurse’s opener for The Bees just after the half-hour but fortunately it served to sting Blues into life. Marlon King levelled from the penalty spot, against the club where he started his career, to send the teams in level at the break and soon after the interval Steven Caldwell scored his first-ever Blues goal and Darren Ambrose marked his debut with a delightful strike to put Clark’s side in control.
A late clinical finish from another new boy Peter Lovenkrands and a terrific 20-yard effort from Wade Elliott put the shine on what turned out in the end to be a thoroughly satisfying evening. However the scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story of an entertaining cup-tie as Blues were given some more than worrying moments in a first-half which could have seen the visitors score more than once.
Read how the action unfolded through our live blog service here.
Five of Blues’ six summer signings made their competitive bows – David Lucas, Ravel Morrison, Hayden Mullins as well as Ambrose and Lovenkrands - and there was also a first senior call-up for 19-year-old defender Will Packwood who deputised for injured captain Stephen Carr.
Blues made a promising start with two early chances for King and David Murphy also heading just over from a corner. But the best opportunity of the opening ten minutes went the visitors’ way when Anthony Edgar raced clear on the left side of the area but Lucas saved well with his legs and then Curtis Davies cleared the winger’s follow-up shot off the line.
Lovenkrands attempted an audacious overhead kick from King’s header back across goal as Blues looked to prize open the Barnet backline, but the League Two side were clearly not fazed by the challenge of taking on a team from two tiers above and engineered two good chances of their own.
Firstly the ball almost dropped to Andy Yiadom but Lucas was just able to divert away the danger and then just moments later The Bees did have the ball in the net. Fortunately the assistant’s flag cut short the celebrations after Clovis Kamdjo poked the ball over the line. However, the ball had originally been flicked goalwards by Jon Nurse and it remains to be seen whether the goal would have stood had Kamdjo not got a touch.
Blues responded with King’s volley flashing wide and then a shot from Burke claimed at the second attempt by visiting keeper Liam O’Brien. Mark Robson’s Bees launched another dangerous attack which ended with Edgar racing clear again inside the area but Lucas was out smartly to smother his shot from a narrow angle.
Blues had received enough warnings of Barnet’s attacking intent and they were eventually made to pay for their lacklustre start on 31 minutes. Jordon Brown’s cross was headed in at the far post by Nurse despite the efforts of Lucas to claw it away.
It was a wake-up for Clark’s side and they responded in the best possible fashion with an equaliser just six minutes later. Kamdjo was having a night to forget as his clumsy challenge on King inside the area saw the referee point to the spot. Blues’ top scorer from 2011/12 dusted himself down to open his account for the new campaign as he confidently stroked his spot-kick into the bottom corner giving O’Brien no chance.
But if Blues thought their lower-ranked opponents were now going to lie down they were in for a rude awakening. Just before the break Barnet came within a whisker of regaining the lead as Ricky Holmes cleverly chipped the ball over Lucas but saw his shot crash back off the post.
The Championship outfit began the second period in a far more determined mood however and Clark’s team were rewarded with a second goal to grab the lead on 49 minutes. Ambrose’s corner found its way to the feet of Caldwell on the edge of the six-yard box and the centre-half produced a striker’s finish lashing a fierce shot past O’Brien via the underside of the bar.
Blues made the tie safe just five minutes later with another player opening their St. Andrew’s account. This time it was new boy Ambrose who picked up the ball on the left edge of the area and then curled a delicious shot into the far corner beyond the out-stretched grasp of the Barnet keeper.
The cushion of a two-goal lead helped Blues relax and produce some tremendous free-flowing football as the game moved into its final quarter. Ambrose almost got on the end of Mullins’ clever far-post chip and the impressive former Crystal Palace man saw another effort later in the game parried away by O’Brien.
The hosts were forced into a substitution with 14 minutes left on the clock as Morgaro Gomis replaced American debutant Packwood who hobbled off through injury and both teams made further changes as the game drifted towards its conclusion.
The scoreline was given a flattering look by the injury-time strikes from Lovenkrands, a cool finish having been set up by King, and then substitute Wade Elliott who crashed an unstoppable shot into the far corner.
It was a remarkable end to an exciting cup-tie and sets Blues up nicely for this weekend’s league opener against Charlton Athletic here at St. Andrew’s.
Blues: David Lucas; Will Packwood (Morgaro Gomis 76), Curtis Davies, Steven Caldwell, David Murphy; Chris Burke (Nathan Redmond 85), Ravel Morrison (Wade Elliott 79), Hayden Mullins, Darren Ambrose; Peter Lovenkrands, Marlon King.
Subs (not used): Colin Doyle, Pablo Ibanez, Adam Rooney, Nikola Zigic.
Goals: King pen (38), Caldwell (49), Ambrose (54), Lovenkrands (90+1), Elliott (90+4)
Barnet: Liam O’Brien, Jordon Brown, Clovis Kamdjo, Jon Fortune (Jack Saville 79), Olly Lee (Curtis Weston 64), Jon Nurse (Jake Hyde 76), Ricky Holmes, Ahmed Abdulla, Andy Yiadom, Freddie Warren, Anthony Edgar.
Subs (not used): Sam Conler, Curtis Weston, George Sykes, Elliott Johnson, Mauro Vilhete.
Goal: Nurse (31)
Referee: Lee Collins
Attendance: 9,905 (383 visiting fans)