Since my last look at Barnet just over 4 weeks ago on this blog, things have certainly improved thanks to a strong end to the month of March. The day after I blogged on the FA Cup and Trophy runs masking the season as a smokescreen, the Bees proceeded to lose to then fellow strugglers Chesterfield to leave themselves just two points above the relegation zone despite having 4-5 games in hand on all those sides around them.
As would usually be the call around this time with the club in danger of dropping out of a league, a certain Martin Allen was once again being banded around social media as the ‘saviour’, pressure beginning to build on Darren Currie regardless of the amount of games still be to be played. The fine win over high flying Barrow appeared to signal a change in fortunes but following that with two successive away defeats kept the pressure up and just increased the calls for Allen to return.
But, since that last away defeat in early March Currie’s team have turned in a five match unbeaten run with four successive clean sheets, not bad for a defensive unit which has commonly shipped goals frequently throughout the season. That mini run has propelled Barnet onto 49 points before facing the current league leaders in London rivals Leyton Orient over the weekend. Even now as we enter in April, there are still games in hand for the Bees to ensure they are in mid-table safety before too long.
The return to full fitness of striker Dave Tarpey has certainly ignited things at the other end of the pitch including his winner against Harrogate just under a couple of weeks ago. Scoring goals has been Barnet’s problem all year and highlighted last time I wrote, only three sides have scored less than the Bees and two of those are firmly in the relegation zone! It’s for sure one of the areas Currie will need to address in the summer, Byron Harrison, Mo Bettahmer, Josh Walker and Jack Barham have all struggled to hit the target this season, add Tarpey and Shaq Coulthirst to the mix and six strikers is too many to have on the pay-roll especially when they mis-fire.
Defensively, the jury has been out on Callum Reynolds and Che Alexander. Both arrived with decent reputations as did those signed from Dagenham & Redbridge, stand out performances haven’t been delivered often enough which is why Barnet find themselves where they are. If their two year contracts are for this year and an option then Currie will have the chance to release who he doesn’t believe can help mount a promotion challenge next season.
The team has been crying out for a ball winning defensive midfielder since the days of Sam Togwell. For the Bees to be in the shake up next season, this area has to be one of the major areas to shape. No doubt there is talent within the squad, notably Dan Sweeney, Jack Taylor and Ephron Mason-Clark while Andre Boucard has shown that if fit for a full season, there is a big role for him. You would hope that Currie will be afforded the same budget that John Still was given for this season and is able to shift out the dead wood and build a team that will work for him, we all know he has the passion for the Bees, now he needs a squad who share that.
Whilst Currie has work to do on the pitch, it has to be pointed out there is plenty to do off the pitch as well. It’s a fractured fan base at The Hive, crowds often below 1000 and stands closed forcing people who want to go and can afford a tenner or want to stand, instead having to fork out over twenty notes for a seat, way too harsh for National League football.
You can understand why the club are doing it in order to cut costs, but apart from this weekend’s game where a free ticket was issued to those standing regulars who had to sit on Tuesday night, very little has come back to appease the supporters in way of some kind of compensation. This summer once again certainly won’t be a quiet one in the colours of black and amber……….