I’ve said it a few times this season that seven days is long time in football and for a lot of clubs up and down the country the chance to actually spend a full week training instead of playing Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday has something of a rarity.
New Barnet First Team Coach Simon Bassey was afforded that honour this week giving him and Dave Anderson the chance to put some more ideas across to the players ahead of the visit from Aldershot Town to The Hive.
With the first clean sheet in months achieved last weekend at Maidenhead, the first foundation stone was laid and not surprisingly Bassey named an unchanged team, something again that hasn’t been forthcoming too often this season either, Ben Richards-Everton making his return from suspension for a place on the bench.
For the second week running Barnet started brightly, making a huge change from expecting to be a goal behind inside ten minutes which has set the tone for the season, the Bees even having the first chance of the game, JJ Hooper with the shot but one Mitch Walker in the Shots goal didn’t have to work too hard to gather.
Ephron Mason-Clark was finding a lot of joy down the left hand side and even had an effort pushed away by Walker on the half hour mark as the Bees looked the more likely to open the scoring.
As it was Barnet were in front two minutes later, Mason-Clark feeding the once again impressive Lee Vaughan whose delicious cross was perfectly placed onto the head of Hooper whose guided header was beyond Walker for his 8th goal of the season.
The lead however lasted just five minutes as Aymen Azaze came for a corner, looked to be fouled as the ball slipped from his grasp and into an unguarded net, one of the rare moments the Bees didn’t deal with a ball into the box. Rather than sit back or heads dropped, Barnet went on the attack forcing a flurry of corners but unable to find the head of skipper Liam Daly in the opposition penalty area leaving the sides to go in level at half time.
The second half was as open as the first, both sides looking to score and not settling for a point each. Bassey said after the game that the half time talk was about not sulking but to go out and prove a point, we certainly got the latter. Sam Skeffington was first to try his luck but way over the bar whilst the Shots tried to create down the flanks, but Vaughan and fellow full back Sam Beard were equal to the challenge, Beard given a good match up against Joel Nouble in the first half but the winger less creative through the second period.
The next goal was likely to be crucial especially when the Bees are used to conceding and then collapsing like a deck of cards, but not this time around. Mason-Clark who was a constant threat down that left flank all afternoon weaved his way into the penalty area and was brought down by George Fowler.
The winger then stepped up and calmy slotted the penalty past Walker to put the home side back in front, two goals at home for the first time since 16th February but still 20 minutes to play to hold out for a vital win.
The Shots brought on Ricky Miller to try and get an equaliser but with a lack of service into the front man and the Barnet defence managing to get themselves in front of everything despite the odd heart in mouth moment, the Bees looked to be seeing out the game in good time management style, a double substitution saw Tomi Adeloye and Richards-Everton replace the hardworking Hooper and tireless Harry Taylor with three minutes remaining.
With four minutes of added time to come, it was going to be a ‘backs to the wall’ effort to keep the three points, but in the fourth of those four minutes, Adeloye had other ideas as he ignored the cries from the home bench to head for the corner flag to weave his way past a couple of half challenges to be one on one with Walker and slotted past the keeper with consummate ease for his first goal in Bees colours and ensuring the three points were not leaving The Hive.
The win was Barnet’s first in two months, Tim Flowers only win in charge against Halifax after six attempts but something that took Bassey just two games. Now this doesn’t mean Barnet have finally cracked it nor does it mean the hard work stops but it has shown there are some performances in these players.
Daly and Matt Preston are starting to form a good understanding at the heart of the defence, Vaughan is Mr Consistency and the incoming Beard gives the balance on the opposite flank, more protection for Azaze is very much evident.
Mason-Clark has started to look more like the player who wants to take on full backs and deliver balls into the box, Hooper who I’ve said in the past isn’t quite doing what I’d expect a lone striker to do is also showing signs what’s being asked of him now is blossoming.
To blog on a win for the first time since February is a nice feeling, feel good has been few and far between for Bees fans since the season began and whilst it’s only two games into a new era, it does show some of these players if they deliver consistently over the next 10 games they might find a contract for next season, although the previous 30 odd games are still going to be taken into account no doubt.
On a weekend when there is talk of a European Super League and social media is awash with distain and disgust for the top level of the game, Saturday lunchtime was a little breath of fresh air, I might just revel in that a bit more, well until Tuesday evening when we go again……….