Saturday afternoon was my first trip to The Hive this season. With a combination of long work hours meaning any Tuesday visit is currently out of the question and being involved at Wick FC makes most Saturdays difficult too, not to mention the minimum 5 hour round trip!
Following a team from afar is never easy, however social media makes it easier these days to keep abreast of things and also viewing highlights can allow you to see the good and the bad of any game.
Woking have had a fantastic start to this season for a part-time team, a rarity in the National League these days although recent form, no win their previous four games, has seen them fall away from the top three and are just hanging onto a play-off place. Barnet’s current form is not much better, just one win their previous six games but sit only two points off the play offs despite being unable to pick up wins.
The game itself was a disappointment from a Barnet point of view. Far too often this season, the team have given a lacklustre performance for at least one of the two halves, yesterday appeared no exception. Barnet were never at the races in the first half, Woking were no more impressive either, their goal coming from a silly free kick given away on the edge of the box by Dan Sweeney and with the Bees unable to defend set pieces for the second game in a row went 1-0 down.
Sweeney provided one of the very few bright spots in the first half along with Mauro Vilhete, the former’s distribution and play from the back always an option. The lack of bustle from a front two of Simeon Akinola and Josh Walker meant an easy first half for the two burly Woking centre halves and an unsurprising lead for the Cards at half time.
No changes from boss Darren Currie at half time gave his side the chance to start brightly and get back into the game. But, they fell further behind on 53 minutes conceding another sloppy goal and now finding themselves needing to score twice just to rescue a point.
Vilhete duly obliged with the first goal, having gotten himself into great positions in the penalty area throughout the game and suddenly Barnet were back into the game. That certainly brought the small crowd to life for the first time in the afternoon and the Bees should have level minutes after when Alfie Pavey headed wide when easier to score, Pavey though once brought on gave those centre halves something else to think about.
Barnet’s best efforts were coming down their right hand side through Sweeney and Cheye Alexander and Woking seemed content to play on the counter and soak up the Barnet pressure. Currie introduced Ephron Mason-Clark and the youngster’s low curling effort beat Ross all ends up but came back off the post, you just had the feeling for all the possession and pressure Barnet were coming away with nothing.
Ironic as it is, ex Bees keeper Ross was guilty of persistent time wasting all afternoon and rather than book the keeper the referee added on six minutes of stoppage time, those minutes contributed to Barnet’s equaliser, a goalmouth scramble turned in by Mason-Clark and cue some fantastic and unexpected celebrations.
Coming from two goals down to draw shows the character of the team but individual performances were clearly lacking, only Sweeney and Vilhete shining on a dreary day. As with Bromley I felt it was a good time to play a Woking side lacking a bit of form and Barnet didn’t capitalise on it. Too many players had an off day and failed to add that extra edge.
I also noticed the referee being reluctant to book players all afternoon and not noticing subtle fouls, no different to the County League one I watch most weekends, worrying it’s becoming a trait at all levels.
However, we are still nicely placed and I’m sure no one would swop this season for either of the last two so far, this is not an easy league to get out of, as Barnet fans we should know that only too well, on the opposite side we also know what is needed to get us promoted.
As always the positives, one defeat in our last five is still good, but is countered by one win in five, however could those four points from the draws be beneficial in the final reckoning? Well, we won’t know yet! But, what I do know is last season those draws would have been losses, two tough away games coming up after the FA Cup tie at local rivals Potters Bar, four points from those two games will keep us placed nicely, after all we’re not even halfway through the season yet………