When Tim Flowers arrived at Barnet FC the size of the task in hand was a long hard slog. Six games later and despite some signs of improvement he might be thinking a trek over the Himalayas might prove less challenging.
Flowers was absent from the Bees Tuesday night trip to Aldershot, the club stating a non-covid illness, but assistant Gary Whild in the post-match interview suggesting the boss should get a covid test on the assumption of how he looked, make of that what you will!
Having watched the Shots live on BT Sport on Saturday evening away at Bromley, it was a good chance to see what to expect when facing Barnet. A liking to attack down the flanks where Barnet are weak was going to cause a few problems, strong across midfield and a cohesive back four, although that four described by the commentators were all centre halves by trade.
The one change for the Bees bringing in Michael Petrasso for Ephron Mason-Clark was like for like on what was to be another heavy pitch but of course nowhere near as tough as the conditions a week ago at Dover.
Best word to describe the first half, sluggish. The Shots didn’t create as much as I expected nor targeting the full backs either, although they were the only side to look as if they might score, Barnet once again less than potent in the opposition box, something that we’ve not managed to address since Flowers’ arrival.
By half time I duly believed that the game was there for the taking if we could somehow remember the opposition had a goal we were supposed to score in and funnily enough the memory came back.
A superb, whipped ball into the box by Antony Wordsworth found the head of an unmarked Petrasso to give the Bees the lead eight minutes into the second half, minutes where we seemed to remember that attacking play brings goals.
Minutes later Barnet should have had a second, Petrasso again with a shot that looked like it was heading into the net only for Shots keeper Mitch Walker to pull off the save, the loose ball then evading Courtney Baker-Richardson.
Just four minutes later however the hosts were level, a short corner from the Bees right hand side was not picked up quick enough and on hand at the far post unmarked was Jamie Sendles-White to volley past Scott Loach for parity.
The Shots almost took the lead a minute, a long ball over the top saw Frank Nouble beat the on-rushing Loach only to see the ball come back off the crossbar and evade the incoming Ricky Miller before the Barnet defence cleared the ball.
It wasn’t long in coming however for Aldershot to take the lead, a silly free kick given away by Miles Judd just outside the penalty area and former Bee Mo Bettamer fired the ball under the wall and into the net, sweet justice maybe for a player whose career stalled very quickly after signing for Barnet from Braintree but has ignited once more in Hampshire.
That goal did seem to knock the brittle confidence of the Bees once more and although Mason-Clark had a goal bound effect deflected over by JJ Hooper the Bees ran out of ideas and steam and once again defeat on the road for the struggling side from The Hive.
Petrasso since his return from injury has been a leading light for Barnet, it wasn’t surprising to see him withdrawn after an hour as he builds up fitness once again, the team can’t afford to have him suffering on the sidelines.
Defensively away from the goals conceded the centre halves looked better, but still concern in the full back positions, Jerome Binnom-Williams caught out of position far too often and Judd offered very little in either half of the pitch.
Good to get ninety minutes in the tank for both Wordsworth and Baker-Richardson, the lack of games played for the former due to suspension and for the latter a lack of action prior to arriving on loan, match fitness many need but quickly.
Evident once again that while we are getting better slowly defensively, the other end of the pitch is still causing concern and while quite a few have dug out Alfie Pavey over the last few weeks, most of which I agree with, Hooper should not be without criticism.
If the ball isn’t forthcoming too often, then let’s get some work-rate going please. Mo Faal doesn’t look to be in favour, looking for a goal last night in the last ten minutes and we chuck Liam Daly up the pitch instead of bringing on the tall striker. Hooper needs to do more for me, it’s the one area where we now need major improvement if we are to get out of the bottom three and if anything he has more help now in Petrasso and Baker-Richardson.
No win in fourteen league games now is a sorry statistic and a far cry from twelve months ago when the club were in the middle of what turned out to be a run of one defeat in seventeen games when the season came to a halt in March. A weekend off is probably not what is needed at the moment, but when Halifax visit the Hive next Tuesday it must signal the start of a run if the Bees want to finish outside the bottom three. Forget what is going on with the vote, that distraction and reliance on things going our way is not going to help, muddled thinking will only result in a failure to escape relegation in that someone or something else will help us out.
Games are starting to run out and while it still looks like there are plenty of matches and time on our side that soon evaporates and it becomes nigh on impossible to not lose another one, never dull being a Bees fan is it………..