Blogging becomes a little easier when your team is winning, or even stringing along an unbeaten run, but every game is a new test which is certainly a better way of looking at it rather than a Barnet thumping every week.
Whilst there is very little football going on that you can watch at a ground and while it’s nice to blog about your favourite team I can’t wait to get things more diverse which is what this is all about.
The Bees headed north to Altrincham on a three match unbeaten run, the longest they have enjoyed this season in the National League and showing a very different side to their play under Simon Bassey. The home side hadn’t scored in three matches and on paper looked to be a slightly more even clash than you would have anticipated.
I was quite impressed with the Robins when they visited The Hive earlier in the season, the side were flying high in the table but found themselves in the mid to lower reaches of the table as the Bees arrived.
Bassey made one change to the starting line-up, Courtney Baker-Richardson back in after suspension at the expense of the unfortunate Tomi Adeloye whilst Michael Petrasso made a welcome return to the bench.
As per the last few games Barnet started the opening minutes in bright fashion, but unlike the previous three games they conceded early and almost looked to be like back to the days of old. Despite an attack breaking down, the Robins recycled the ball across the box and when the ball fell to Ryan Colclough he sent the ball fizzing past Aymen Azaze with just four minutes on the clock.
Having not gone behind in the last three outings it was a little bit of new territory with things having gone to plan so far. The play after the goal was sluggish and Barnet failed to retain the ball when they did dispossess Altrincham, passes going astray and unlike what we’ve seen since Bassey arrived.
It got worse on 15 minutes, Azaze pushing out a free kick to his right only for the Robins to return it into the danger area and Alistair Smith heading past the Bees keeper to put the home side firmly in control.
The Bees still couldn’t get going in as the hosts didn’t need to push the game forward comfortable with a two goal lead. Harry Taylor was close to dispossessing the hosts keeper after not clearing his lines but Ephron Mason-Clark couldn’t finish off Alex McQueen’s cross as a result.
The hosts looked to be finishing the half strong as Azaze tipped a shot round the post whilst Dan Mooney shot wide when well placed, but the Bees managed to find a way back into the game in first half stoppage time.
Mason-Clark’s long clearance from just outside his own box saw a Robins defender and keeper Tony Thompson fail to communicate, the ball headed over the on-rushing custodian and Courtney Baker-Richardson was on hand to put the ball into the empty net and the visitors back into the game.
A change at half time saw Sam Skeffington off with injury replaced by Petrasso, Skeffington I felt did struggle to get hold of the game while the change brought McQueen back into the middle of midfield.
The change of formation did look as if it was going to pay dividends in the second half, the next goal in the game was going to be crucial. The Bees had their fair share of set pieces but unable to find the head of a fellow player in black and amber.
They came close just after the hour mark when Mason-Clark’s deflected shot forced Thompson into a smart save whilst Baker-Richardson and McQueen couldn’t quite hit the target soon after.
The final twenty minutes saw the game open up as the Bees gambled on getting the equaliser whilst the Robins wanted to put the game to bed, Barnet adding Adeloye up front at the expense of Themis Kefalas to go 4-4-2 for the final seven minutes.
Four minutes after the change the Bees were level, a loose ball picked up by Mason-Clark saw the winger stride into the box and slot the ball past Thompson for the equaliser.
Barnet however weren’t done there as they sent on central defender Ben Richards-Everton for Baker-Richardson, extra height as they pushed for the winner and just a minute later they had it.
The hosts couldn’t clear the ball from around their own penalty area and a cross from Mason-Clark found Adeloye in the six yard box who poked the ball past Thompson for his second goal from the bench on successive Saturday’s.
The Bees negotiated stoppage time without too much drama and when a final cross into the box was plucked out the air by Azaze, the game was done for the hosts.
So four games unbeaten for Bassey and Dave Anderson although the result looked very unlikely from the first 15 minutes and most of the first half. I thought the change at half time despite Bassey saying it was down to injury actually balanced us a lot better as while Mason-Clark was again a nuisance down the left wing McQueen looked lost on the other flank, neither attacking well nor giving Lee Vaughan much protection.
The second half performance looked a lot more like what we saw over the past three games although the first half showed the lack of consistency that we’ve seen so often over the course of the season.
This unbeaten run is the best so far in the National League for Barnet this season although it hasn’t been hard to achieve that, a very stern test awaits at Sutton Utd on Tuesday evening, another side going through a dip in form and whilst four or five weeks ago they would have been expecting an easy three points.
One last thing to reflect on, Bassey’s won more games already than Tim Flowers managed in around three months whilst also equalising the amount of league wins Peter Beadle achieved in his time in charge, it’s either not rocket science or there are some managers out of their depth or lacking in playing style to suit what they have, I’ll leave you to make your mind up on that one………