A bump in the road

Maidstone Utd vs Barnet 2

On Tuesday evening I had the rare luxury of watching Barnet for the second time in seven days, this time a trip ‘home’ to Kent heading for Maidstone Utd’s Gallagher Stadium. Many of you reading won’t know that I used to be a Stone growing up. They were the first non-league team my late father took me to see and were my team until their demise whilst a Football League team in the early 90’s. That void led me to Underhill and as they say the rest is history, some 20 years of it now!

As most of you know I don’t get to many games, this season in particular being caused by duties as Secretary of a step 6 club which will end over the summer. Tuesday night games are a god-send, especially when they’re more reachable than The Hive so this one was a no-brainer for me. Add in the fact the Bees were tearing up records with a superb 7 clean sheets in a row and given the Stones position of already relegated before Easter, surely number 8 was on it’s way.

And it certainly looked as if it was through the first half. A stunning strike from Medy Elito inside a minute looked as if it was to set the tone for the evening, the pace from the goalscorer and Ephron Mason-Clark meant the Bees could attack at will to support Shaq Coulthirst, the midfield trio of Craig Robson, Harry Taylor and Wes Fonguck were given time and space to dictate and control the game which they duly did. Had Barnet gone in 2-0 or even 3-0 up at half time, you couldn’t disagree given their dominance over the hosts until the final 10 minutes of the half.

The lively ex-Bee Justin Amaluzor won a penalty, but Mark Cousins was equal to Blair Turgott’s strike and the record stayed intact, but only for a few minutes more. Amaluzor equalised for the Kent outfit early in the second half, a simple goal conceded, by that I mean there were ample chances to clear the ball and it was a soft way for the record to end.

From that point on, the Bees were left to rue missed first half chances as Maidstone went on to dominate the half and once again show up the frailties that still exist within this squad, as they notched the winner with still 15 minutes left to play. Late chances for Simeon Akinola and Coulthirst went begging and the Bees went away with nothing after promising so much.

So what went wrong? After a pretty strong first half, the Bees found time and space much harder to come by. Taylor stood out for the full 90, still managing to find that extra inch to move, his midfield partners less so. Elito and Mason-Clark found their full backs much tighter and less giving, David Tutonda and Cheye Alexander retreating rather than advancing as they had been. Looking at the bench, it has been evident for this season there is no game changer or plan B despite a squad nearing 40 players!

Last night was crying out for a battering centre forward to bully their centre halves and a midfield enforcer to just put himself about a bit, DC I’m sure is well aware they’re needed as is a large trimming of the squad. You can’t knock the fact these players have delivered a lot over the past three months, especially with the run that took the club away from any fears of relegation, playing every Tuesday and Saturday for the best part of 2-3 months, maybe last night finally caught up with them? Fair play to the coaching staff for getting this out of the players, some who have looked out of place, form or whatever you’d like to call it over the course of the season.

One disappointing note at the end of the game were two ‘supporters’ making their way to the front as DC and the players came over to clap us and proceeded to make their opinions felt, berate was the word I used on Twitter, maybe slightly harsh but was it what was needed after the game? Credit to DC for coming up to the two and talking to them ending with a handshake, but some of the stuff being spouted behind me during the game you would have thought the team were on a run of 17 without a win! We all know how limited this squad has been despite it’s size and some of the poor performances they’ve delivered, they deserve some credit I felt, not to be chastised for one bad half, but thats just my opinion!

Finally though, the last few games can be used for those players Currie has lingering doubts about or blooding a few more youngsters for match action, I think we can all be sure it’ll be busy, busy at The Hive once that last game is finished.

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