Another small step in the right direction

Local derbies are never one for the faint hearted and Tuesday night’s trip to Boreham Wood was going to be no exception for Barnet FC. After Saturday’s win over Aldershot provided the Bees with a first win under Simon Bassey the trip up the road was likely to be a much sterner test.

A knock for one of the weekend goal-scorers JJ Hooper saw him replaced by Tomi Adeloye, himself a goal getter at the weekend, in an otherwise unchanged line up.

As per the weekend both sides opened brightly under the Meadow Park lights and it’s refreshing to see the Bees concentration from the off rather than expecting us to concede a goal or two and be out of the game before half-time.

The Bees had the first couple of early chances, although it was Kabongo Tshimanga who forced Aymen Azaze to save at his near post inside five minutes, one of the very few occasions the young Belgian keeper had a shot on target to make him work.

Ephron Mason-Clark, who again provided some good width and penetrating runs on the left flank, tested Wood with a couple of half chances as the home side started to take control of possession but were not creating too many chances, Tshimanga and Matt Rhead marshalled well by Liam Daly and Matt Preston.

On the half hour came Barnet’s best chance of the game, Adeloye making a little space for himself and only a strong hand from Wood keeper Nathan Ashmore prevented the Bees going in front.

Play swung from end to end with both sides trading corners but neither able to make the other pay from set pieces despite height in both ranks and the sides went in goalless at half time, Wood definitely enjoying more possession and putting the Bees under some pressure at times.

Wood certainly upped the ante from the re-start as Barnet struggled to get the ball and when they did they couldn’t keep it long enough to halt the pressure coming their way. The home side forced a succession of corners within the first 15 minutes of the half but failed to make any of them count as the Bees looked to play fully on the counter attack.

Just after the hour mark a mis-controlled ball from Krystian Pearce was about to set Adeloye away but the Wood defender took the foul and a yellow card before the Bees striker could make an impact.

The final quarter of the game saw the home side poke and probe to try and find a way through the visitors defence but Barnet held firm despite the odd nervy moment with balls coming into the box, but a second clean sheet in three games for Azaze and a third game unbeaten for Simon Bassey and Dave Anderson in what was certainly a very different game from the previous two sets of opponents.

For a side that has been caving in all season under pressure, this result was another huge step in the right direction upwards. Granted we have no other way to go but this is the first time this season the team has gone three games without losing in the National League, a pretty poor stat but one we’re not surprised at.

Plusses are springing up all over the park, Themis Kefalas once again a vital cog in front of that back four who are growing in confidence every game. Sam Skeffington quietly going about his game with energy whilst the press Harry Taylor put in for 89 minutes was pretty decent, to make Wood think harder about where they were putting the next pass every time, a different role for the young midfielder but one that gave the team something else.

Adeloye is starting to look more the part like Hooper, a job to do and knowing what to do, very simple but why couldn’t the others manage it with these players? Did they over complicate it or just a stubbornness to stick to one style?

Either way they are starting to be moulded into a team that’s hard to penetrate and be beaten, a bit more pride appears to be emanating back into the shirt which is all us supporters ask for.

Just a note on Antonis Vasiliou, I know a lot of fans want to see him on the bench and whilst I’ve loved the moments where he has played this season I can see why he’s not involved at the moment. People criticise two defenders on the bench, but when you break down the play as it is now one will replace Taylor after he’s run himself into the ground to shore up the back line.

If that defender has come on earlier for an injured player then we lose that game plan notion and we need to be water-tight defensively, that breeds the confidence of not getting smashed or simply conceding.

Vasiliou has a role to play next season I feel, Petrasso we would expect to return home which gives room for the young Cypriot to make his mark at this level, it’s ‘horses for courses’ as I see it to get us through the remainder of the season and to restore more of that pride I mentioned earlier.

In a week where the greed at the top end of the game was almost taken to a new level it’s refreshing to see my football club is taking small steps to get back on an even keel after the disbelief of all we’ve seen across the live streams all season, after all owners are just custodians of our clubs, supporters are there for life…………………..

Bassey has Bees buzzing

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……….

Title race very much alive and kicking

As the season enters the final six weeks of what seems to have been the longest eight months on record, there is a fantastic title race at the top of the National League for promotion into the Football League.

Had last season carried on I believe we would have seen a challenge to Barrow who were having a mini wobble at the time of the pandemic forcing all football to be suspended. As it was they took their place in League Two along with Harrogate Town for the 2020-21 season.

This season for a majority of the first few months it looked a one horse race as Torquay Utd won game after game and on Boxing Day last year after thumping local rivals Yeovil Town 6-1 the Gulls were nine points clear of their closest challengers despite having played two games more.

A stuttering January and February where only one win was gained in each month saw the chasing pack catch and overtake Torquay but the Gulls have managed to compose themselves and remain firmly in the hunt for automatic promotion.

The biggest advantage takers from Torquay’s blip have been Sutton Utd, quietly going about their business and stealing a march whilst the Gulls faltered. Of course every team goes through at least one sticky patch in a season and the Gander Green Lane outfit have been no different although more in the form of draws than defeats.

The basis of their title charge this side of Xmas has been a current 14 match unbeaten run which stretches back to the beginning of February and despite a few more draws in the last five weeks or so they too remain fully in contention.

With no game at the weekend they relinquished top spot to Hartlepool but trail the North East side by just a single point with a massive four games in hand whilst being three points in front of Torquay with a game in hand on them.

This Tuesday night see the Gulls heading to Gander Green Lane in search of three big points. Whilst the hosts can afford to draw in terms of their games in hand on both chasing clubs the visitors really need the win to keep the pressure on Sutton and Hartlepool as we head towards the season climax.

As well as Sutton’s great run Hartlepool are themselves 14 games unbeaten and their season comes to a climax a week earlier than everyone else due to Dover’s demise this season and it couldn’t have been written any better, a trip to Sutton in what potentially could a title decider depending on how results fair for both clubs in the next four weeks.

Having watched all three sides either on BT Sport or streamed against Barnet you can make a case for all three to be champions. Sutton are well organised at the back, strikers who can poses a threat up front and the goals from midfield of Harry Beautyman a real bonus.

Pools are free-flowing, also strong defensively and goals across the team, like Sutton they know if they keep their run going it’s going to become a two horse race.

Torquay though now they are over a raft of injuries to key players will feel the race is far from done even if they suffer defeat on Tuesday night, the wily Gary Johnson will try to ensure his team are competitive till the end. With Saturday Tuesday Saturday football for Sutton to contend with over the next four weeks more than the other two sides there is likely to be a lot more twists and turns before the curtain comes down on a difficult season.

Underneath these three clubs those currently in the play-off’s positions are very much in control. Three defeats in a row for Wrexham and for Eastleigh just recently has made the job a little harder whilst four draws in the last five for Boreham Wood might have given them a little too much to do.

Sandwiched in between those three clubs are Bromley who seem to have come to terms with the departure of Neil Smith and unbeaten in three games under Andy Woodman, but like those around them it might be an ask to get inside those top seven places and stay there.

Ten games to go for most clubs does mean there is time to turn things around but those games will pass by very quickly and then the margin for error becomes smaller and smaller, its going to be a great race to the finish, just a shame we are unlikely to witness any of it live bar the final game of the season, although spare a thought for Hartlepool fans who as mentioned above finish a week earlier than anyone else, could be champions and not one celebration inside their Victoria Park Ground.

Bees battle hard for a point

A new dawn, a new era. We’ve been here before haven’t we? Well yes, quite often as it seems but it’s a prayer we’re all praying goes the distance this time as far as Barnet FC are concerned.

Simon Bassey and Dave Anderson are the 5th level of incumbents of the Bees dugout this season, shades of just a few years ago where we went through managers like a hot knife in butter and relegated from the Football League. This season would have suffered the same fate without the intervention of null and void for Step 2, a lucky escape not a deserved one.

The Bees headed to Maidenhead to face a side having a little wobble of form currently but under Alan Devonshire they have fully taken advantage of last season’s escape from the drop on PPG (points per game), the same method allowing Barnet into the play-offs.

Despite just a couple of days with the squad, Bassey opted for a couple of tweaks to the starting line up and the bench set up, debuts for on loan pair Sam Beard and Sam Skeffington while centre half Themis Kefalas lined up just in front of the back four but no place for Antonis Vasiliou who impressed on Easter Monday at Wealdstone.

Both sides started bright, intentions to knock the ball around confidently and Barnet which can’t be said too often this season looked a little more composed and job happy, players knowing what they should be doing.

Despite this though there were very few chances created by either side, the Bees with a flurry of early corners but to no avail and the hosts unable to pick a way through what is commonly a porous Bees defence.

The first real big chance of the game didn’t come until just after the half hour mark, Barnet switched off for the only time in the first period from a quick throw in, Danilo Orsi-Dadomo was through on goal but Aymen Azaze’s positioning was spot on to deny the on-rushing forward.

Neither side managed to create anything of note before half-time and the sides went in level, the Bees equal to everything the hosts tried to do and not often have the visitors this season been all square at the interval.

The second half was a bit more of a scrappier affair at times, Maidenhead did have the ball in the net on the hour but a header from Orsi-Dadomo was ruled out for offside. The visitors were containing the hosts as well as they did in the first half and whilst it looked as if one goal would win it if either side could score the Bees had a glorious opportunity three minutes from time, Ephron Mason-Clark’s perfect through ball set JJ Hooper away and whilst we believe he should have scored credit must be applied to the Magpies keeper Taye Ashby-Hammond for his positioning to deny the Bees an away win.

The hosts peppered the Bees goal for the remaining minutes of the game but as per the 88 minutes before the defence stood firm and resolute and the Bees picked up a point and a first clean sheet since December 5th.

A good start for Messrs Bassey and Anderson, a solid point and probably the best defensive performance for nearly four months. Solid debuts from Beard and Skeffington, the former competitive in the tackle and despite a first half booking then proceeded to defend sensibly unlike some ill-discipline we’ve seen this season.

The role that Kefalas undertook shouldn’t be under-estimated, good protection in an unfamiliar role whilst the confidence of Matt Preston and Liam Daly behind him managing to head or block almost all coming their way is a good foundation to begin upon.

Mason-Clark I think put more balls in the box or at least attempted more crosses than we’ve seen all season, there just needs to be more of a presence up front and I wouldn’t be surprised to see another loan or short term signing to come in with a view to next season, either from an under 23 side or the National League South.

With a full week of training to come before Aldershot visit The Hive more work will no doubt follow to improve on Saturday’s draw, the standard has been set from day one. Ben Richards-Everton will be available after his suspension and with a week and a half rest Antony Wordsworth and Courtney Baker-Richardson should have recovered from injury if not deemed too serious from Monday’s defeat.

Ah, it makes a nice change not to blog about a defeat but at least if we had lost yesterday it didn’t look like it was going to be a thumping and that’s something none of us have said for a long while……..

Football is nothing without fans

I wanted an early night on Tuesday but that went straight out the window soon after 10pm, why though you might ask? When you follow Barnet FC timing goes out of the window, more inadvertently in my opinion to bury a statement or an announcement, Edgar Davids aside the rest have not been too promising.

My phone hadn’t quite started to go off, I made a quick check as you do through Twitter and a new message from a fellow fan of a statement released by the club so off I went in search.

What I found was well, how do you describe it, amateur? A blame game? As a writer I found its wording was poor, offensive in places and then hidden within the context the news of a restructure of the coaching team, almost buried like it didn’t need talking about.

It was something the late great Dennis Signy OBE would be shaking his head at the very least, I don’t think this one would have made it out the door without a rewrite.

Let’s start with that statement then. An opinion is something I believe everyone is entitled to along with a healthy debate about those opinions. If things don’t go as planned then criticism is expected surely?

To openly attack the people you want to be viewing your product namely the football on the pitch I thought was a bad move.

I don’t understand why we were caught off guard? We completed the play-off game on 25th July, we waited until 12th August until mutually agreeing to part ways with Darren Currie and appointed Peter Beadle on 23rd August. Did it really take 18 days to work out Currie wasn’t to be the way forward? Was it not thought that giving Beadle such a short window would result in the fact the best players already were gone? There can’t have been many clubs where a full rebuild was needed as players were not going to accept lower terms but were given the smallest amount of time possible to make it work?

Blaming this season’s problems on Covid is poor, nearly all of the 23 clubs in the National League have suffered from covid outbreaks and others like ourselves more than once, but I’ve not seen any using it as an excuse that’s a diversion.

Managerial appointments that haven’t worked out are down to just one person, the chairman. They didn’t work out so why not just hold your hand up and admit that? We can all see that and would accept that; mistakes happen as part of human nature and last time I checked we’re all likely to be guilty of one or two in a lifetime.

The furloughing situation is bizarre, it’s being carried out by a lot of clubs within the league and is common knowledge whose players are not involved because of this. Some of us are aware which players we have placed on it, others we can guess at from not being seen for weeks. Some players seem quite happy for it to be known, so why do the club shroud it in some kind of mystery? I’d love to hear why Scott Loach, our one consistent performer all season who is now fit to play, is unlikely to pull on a Bees shirt again, is that really about different styles?

There’s a reason why people question the chairman’s passion for the club and I think it’s easy to see why. It’s not keyboard moaning nor twittering idiots, it goes back to that opinion we’re all allowed.

Both the men’s and ladies’ teams are sitting the relegation zone of their respective division, the club jumped the gun at the beginning of covid which smacked of panic instead of rational thinking and waiting a couple of days longer to see what transpired.

Other clubs looked to make sensible decisions, other clubs have less revenue streams than we enjoy at The Hive and forget the fact it’s been unoperational this year if it’s being run at a profit that should have seen us through this season comfortably surely? Other clubs have managed their way through this period with less income so why have we stripped back to the bare bones? A ‘gamble’ that’s paid off in the end but left us embarrassed and lacking in pride.

I don’t see a lot of people abusing the club’s name and if they do it’s out of frustration for what they see in front of them. We have a history prior to The Hive move, why can’t we be reminded of it from time to time? When times are tough people revert back to when things were good it’s their happy place, only today I referred back to 2004 and 2015 to someone, little in between those times to get excited about.

And as supporters we don’t expect glory every year, we’d support Manchester City for that! What we do want is pride in our club, pride from those who wear the shirt and to be appreciated putting time and effort into the club, these past twelve months has taught everyone at every level of the game that football is NOTHING without fans.

This is no disrespect to either of the club’s communication guys, Adam Rowe and Ciaran McLoughlin. These two put some hours in and it’s been one of the bright lights this season along with Aarron Pullen on the live streaming.

Anyway, onto the new appointments of Simon Bassey and Dave Anderson. A lot of people will be underwhelmed I’m sure that we’ve plucked another name that wasn’t in the reckoning or on supporter’s lips but there is a little more to it than this and something I believe is just the beginning with more to happen.

I’ve actually gotten to know Dave over the past few months, long before Tim Flowers was to be gone and is a well respected manager and figure within the non-league game, in fact the last game he managed saw him a Wembley winner in the FA Vase with Chertsey Town.

As I read it these two are here for the long haul but to see us through the final 13 games and this mess of a season out of the way ready for a manager or head coach to come in over the summer and join them.

As far as I am aware we should have a Director of Football in the shape of Jamie Fullerton although strangely no mention has been made in either announcement, a second statement having arrived this morning to introduce the new pair.

I could be miles off the mark but it makes sense to me especially as Bassey has been introduced as First Team Coach. Whether there is some restriction stopping the new manager coming in until then I’m unsure of but it would rule out quite a few names most of us believed were in the running in the last two weeks.

To finally have what looks like a little bit of stability and a structure to start to build upon is what we’ve been asking for all season and while better late than never, the building for next season described by the new man as starting yesterday.

I fear though a lot of damage has been caused by the wording of that late night statement and even if some pride is restored by the players before the end of May some bridges have now been firmly burnt to the point of not being retrieved I feel, if we get back into The Hive before the end of the season things might be a tad interesting.

Summer news and player recruitment is going to be key to keep what is left of the fanbase onside, only time will tell if people are willing to forgive and forget but for many that ship has now sailed…………

Bees slump to a new low

A local derby is normally the first highlight as a fan you look for when the fixtures come out, before my time it was Enfield for Barnet fans and more recently Stevenage. Now it’s the turn of Wealdstone just a few miles down the road from The Hive and Boreham Wood in the opposite direction, clubs with smaller infrastructures and smaller fan bases although Barnet might be matching support size next season.

Just three days after the Bees notched up defeat number 21 of the season at home to Solihull the short trip up the road was made without Michael Petrasso through injury and Themis Kefalas suspended which meant Harry Taylor dropping into a back three, Xander McBurnie and Antonis Vasiliou coming into midfield while Courtney Baker-Richardson replaced JJ Hooper up front with the former Wrexham man on the bench.

In the bright sunshine, the Bees began quite sharply but as is very much the norm this season Barnet failed to make it to ten minutes without conceding a goal, a free header for Jermome Okimo from a corner put the home side in front, the Bees as per usual unable to deal with a ball into their own box.

The visitors did respond well, Vasiliou at the heart of most things going forward setting up a good chance for wing back Lee Vaughan who cut across the ball to send it the wrong side of the post.

The Bees then put themselves at fault on the half hour mark, a poor pass from McBurnie saw Matt Preston struggle to keep the ball in play, the Stones broke and Dennon Lewis’ deflected shot was past Aymen Azaze and into the net.

Barnet did have two fantastic chances to equalise, the debut making Jake Askew saving brilliantly from Vasiliou while a minute later McBurnie was just wide from 25 yards out.

Vasiliou should have hit the net just before half time latching onto Baker-Richardson’s cutback but inches wide of the target.

The first 15 minutes of the second half belonged to the Bees, Vasiliou yet again at the heart of things with a strong run into the Stones box and squaring for Baker-Richardson to score just his second goal in Barnet colours two minutes after the re-start.

Just a minute later Vaughan’s cross just evaded the goal-scoring striker as for the first time in the game the Stones looked rattled.

Six minutes later and the game turned on its head, a 21 man melee missed by the video camera saw Baker-Richardson show a straight red card and Barnet down to ten men for the second game in a row and for the fifth time in just eight games.

The Bees didn’t actually let that faze them and carried on looking for a second goal and their first change of the afternoon saw Muhammadu Faal replace Alexander McQueen and a minute later breaking through one on one with Askew, but the striker’s finish was very poor and straight at the keeper as he advanced off his line.

From that point onwards Barnet capitulated as has been the case most of the season. With no extra midfielder on the bench striker Tomi Adeloye replaced the injured McBurnie and altered the shape, Wealdstone went further in front.

Lewis was played inside the Bees back line to square the ball to Craig Fasanmade to slot home unmarked on 70 minutes. Two minutes later the home side were awarded a penalty after Taylor dangled out a leg and brought down Jacob Mendy Mendy who stepped up to fire the ball home past Azaze’s dive.

Worse was to come just three minutes from time as Lewis fired home giving Azaze no chance with Barnet defenders nowhere to be seen.

The Bees finished with nine men after Antony Wordsworth limped off injured in the final ten minutes with Barnet done as an attacking outfit despite having three strikers on the pitch for the final part of the game.

Only a couple of plusses out there were Vasiliou and Vaughan, if anything was going to materialise it was coming from either of those two players. Today should have been the day for ‘having a go’. The hosts form has been patchy and why not give a bash in these games instead of going conservative, we find it impossible to keep the score down in games, might as well try and remember where the other net is.

The lack of protection afforded for Azaze is staggering, a young keeper who is highly rated but still only 19 years of age. Surely we can do a bit better than this before we shoot his confidence down the pan and we see mistakes creeping in everywhere?

The lack of conviction from Faal in front of goal has no excuse, he’s paid as a professional footballer to score goals and hasn’t looked likely to find the net since arriving on loan from Bolton earlier in the season, why haven’t we said thanks very much but back you go up north, it’s not working out and has never looked like it would.

We’re on manager number four, someone who clearly doesn’t want to be doing it and the fourth one not being able to get enough out of the players. If they really are that limited then surely we put in place a basic strategy not outside the limits of this bunch, they can’t deliver what is being asked for, keep it simple!

I mentioned on Friday about the indiscipline that has been evident throughout, it’s pretty appalling that nine times we’ve been giving teams a man advantage. It’s about time the players as a group took some responsibility once they cross that white line, we all know football is a sometimes passionate affair but the stupid decisions made for some of these red cards is on the individual, some respect maybe for your team-mates?

The club on the outside looks an utter shambles, no pride, no performance. There might be no danger of the club sliding down one division but on the basis of what has been seen this season not many if any should be anywhere near this team next year, the quality is not good enough.

As a prospective manager incoming that’s going to be an easy decision to make and it would seem a clean slate to work from providing you are given an appropriate budget to make a go of it, but that has to happen if the club want to be competing and not bumbling along, many state it’s more akin to a circus than a football club.

This week we would expect to see a new manager getting appointed, I’m almost at the point where I’m really not that bothered, it’s dragging on so long and when you see other clubs sack a manager and then appoint within a few days you have to ask why they have their shit together and we don’t?

Just wake me up when we finally get there, do we really have to sit through 13 more games though…………..

Bees get lost amongst the Moors

The Easter Bank Holiday weekend is generally a time when dreams can be prolonged or smashed into a million pieces but with still 12 odd games to go for most National League clubs it hasn’t got the same appeal this year.

For Barnet, the season is really done, last week it looked like the side went through the motions at Yeovil after a mishmash of a week with no manager in place. Once again Head of Performance Gary Anderson was in charge with chairman Tony Kleanthous still undecided on his next appointment as manager and that is unlikely to change before Monday’s trip to local rivals Wealdstone.

Anderson recalled Antony Wordsworth to the starting line-up and was joined by Alexander McQueen returning from international action, Xander McBurnie and Tomi Adeloye dropping to the bench. The visitors arrived at The Hive with very little to play for themselves so an afternoon high on easter entertainment was likely to be in short supply.

The Bees began with a 3-5-2 formation, Lee Vaughan filling in at left wing back whilst McQueen looked to take up the right hand side position with Michael Petrasso and Ephron Mason-Clark tucked slightly more inside as a result.

The visitors controlled possession with Barnet unable to keep the ball when they did win it back, touch was lacking and some careless decisions. However, the early chances came the way of the home side, McQueen should have given the Bees the lead inside ten minutes, but indecision meant a wild volley sent into the terrace instead of a bulging net.

Mason-Clark was next to try his luck but his strong shot failed to dip back down under the bar. Barnet were forced into an early change when Petrasso left the pitch with what looked like a hamstring injury replaced by Antonis Vasiliou, a chance for the youngster to get more minutes under his belt at this level.

Moors should have been in front on the half hour mark, Aymen Azaze slightly fortunate the ball headed from a corner was straight at him and a reflex save kept the ball out.

Just as it looked like the Bees would see out the first 45 minutes, the visitors took the lead on the stroke of half time, Tyrone Williams with a free header six yards out made no mistake. Barnet could and should have levelled things before the half time whistle went, JJ Hooper with a fantastic chance to bring parity but a weak shot was easy for Ryan Boot to gather.

The second half had Barnet on the front foot and with a bit more purpose, Wordsworth trying to catch out Boot in the Moors goal from a free kick but the save was equal to the shot taken.

Mason-Clark’s deft back header hit a post although unlikely to end up in the net given the angle but the closest the Bees came to a goal during the afternoon. Anderson then decided to change shape as Barnet chased the game, Adeloye replacing Vaughan.

As it was just four minutes later the visitors scored a potentially controversial second goal, one open for much debate. A pass out from Azaze put his defender under pressure and the controversy came from whether the ball came back to Kyle Hudlin from either Harry Taylor or the pressing Moors midfielder which was ruled after by the officials as from Taylor, Hudlin rounding Azaze and putting the ball in the back of the net.

That goal certainly put the game beyond Barnet and as has been the case on a few occasions ill discipline took over and the Bees finished the game with ten men, young centre half Themis Kefalas picking up two yellow cards in the space of three minutes to leave the Bees minus two central defenders for the Easter Monday trip.

There was a chance for the visitors to score a third but Ward effort was well saved by Azaze as the Bees slumped to yet another league defeat.

One win in twenty-seven games is now the stat for the sorry state of affairs and with eight red cards so far this season there is every chance records will be set everywhere and none of them good.

It is by far the worst time supporting the Bees in my 23 years and I was around when Gary Phillips put together a rag-tag team of journeymen who tried, had pride, and rarely got smashed around the park. It’s no disrespect to the players out there now but quality is lacking and a reason why these guys have not pitched up elsewhere.

Whilst there is merit in spending a few more days in getting the right man in place it is starting to wear a little thin that we can’t be honest in communicating where we’re at, why we’re delaying and why we won’t see certain players again in a Barnet shirt, it’s not difficult to keep what little fanbase you have onside.

That in no way is a dig at our media man Adam Rowe, a top job done under difficult circumstances and the content that does come out is top drawer but in a day and age where social media is king powered by the rumour mill let’s clear some of that up and be more transparent, remember at some stage fans will be allowed back into The Hive but at the moment we might be lucky if we fill one stand let alone four……….

Bees going through the motions

Managerless Barnet were on their travels at the weekend to face a Yeovil side who had already put four goals past their visitors earlier in the month. With Paul Fairclough having finished his three game stint last weekend, an appointment was expected before the trip to Huish Park but with no news forthcoming Head of Performance Gary Anderson was in the dug-out as caretaker manager.

A few changes to team personnel this time around too, Xander McBurnie replacing the international bound Alexander McQueen whilst Tomi Adeloye, Liam Daly, Matt Preston, and JJ Hooper returned to the starting line-up. There was even a place for the out of favour Ben Nugent on the bench.

The Glovers made all the early running, targeting the Bees left hand side where Themis Kefalas was having to fill in at left back, a right footed centre half. It was no surprise when the hosts took the lead coming from that side of the pitch and as is customary inside the opening ten minutes for the visitors.

Tom Knowles cut in from the right hand side with no challenge and slotted the ball past Aymen Azaze to put the home side in front and Bees fans looking on expecting potentially another high score against.

Barnet were on the backfoot constantly within the game with the Glovers dictating possession and pressing to win it back when the ball was lost. Just past the midway point of the first half Yeovil increased their lead which was no more than they deserved, Charlie Lee who turned down the opportunity to join the Bees two summers ago was the scorer from the edge of the box giving Azaze no chance in the Barnet goal.

Despite a small amount of Bees pressure which resulted in a flurry of corners it was the home side who found the next again on 35 minutes, Josh Neufville netting after the Bees failed to clear the ball once again, Azaze not able to get near the strike and the Glovers with a very comfortable half time lead.

With the home side seemingly well in control the second half pretty much went through the motions although Barnet did net in the 67th minute, Kefalas’ header unable to be kept out by Adam Smith and the ball bounced into the net to reduce the deficit.

Yeovil were content to sit back on their lead with Barnet unable to fashion any more decent chances until the 89th minute when Michael Petrasso fired over after some penalty area pinball, but a fully deserved three points stayed with the home side.

Yet another performance with three goals conceded, that is now ten times in 27 league games this season and the first 45 minutes as Anderson alluded to in his post-match interview cost Barnet any chance of getting something out of the game.

Most players were below par and few offered anything across the game, with no relegation of course little is left to play for and it looked very much like a dead rubber.

Attention now turns to whether The Hive will see a new manager in place before the trip to Solihull on Good Friday, no news yet coming out of the Bees home as I write this and even if it’s not to be a permanent appointment then Anderson needs the help in the dug-out and on the training pitch to at least get the club through to the end of the season.

It is bordering a little on the farcical side of things now especially as we seem to be in the dark a little bit and speculating rather than dealing in facts, I know it has to be the right appointment and if it needs to take longer, get a body in the building to help, there’s plenty willing………………

Is it fine or not fine?

This piece is likely to provoke a lot of debate or at least I hope it does, but I couldn’t get away with not blogging about the fines and points suspensions being handed out by the National League this week to eighteen clubs.

There appears to be quite a split between the fans of clubs who have carried on, those who wanted to carry on and those who feel their clubs have taken the right decision to call a halt to things.

I think we can all be agreed upon the fact that if the National League had made clear in late September/early October there was to be a problem with grant funding within the confines of the season then I don’t believe we would have kicked off without the concrete assurances of either fans back inside stadiums on an agreed date or funding to compensate for as long as it takes.

There has been a lot said about the plight of Dover Athletic, a side who we knew at the beginning of the season were in poor shape then to kick off. A lot of people don’t have the time for Jim Parmenter the chairman, but they cut their cloth accordingly to put themselves in position to start. They even stated then that if either funding didn’t continue or fans were not allowed back into the grounds they would struggle to continue.

They were however one of the clubs believed to have benefitted when the grants money was handed out by virtue of Parmenter’s place on the board which is why a lot of people don’t have a lot of sympathy for Dover and I get that, but I’m looking at this purely from the point of view as a fan.

We take Chesterfield, approved for a £1 million pound loan from Sport England to underpin operating costs. Now that loan might be low interest split over a number of years, but that repayment figure has to factored into budgets for years to come whilst having a squad able to compete at the right end of the table or surely there is no point to be out on the pitch? It might not sound a lot split over the time but still another cost impact to complete a season.

Then we have the North and South division clubs fined for not fulfilling fixtures in a competition that no longer exists in the record books, absurd as that sounds it’s quite true. What has been appalling the whole way through this sorry episode is the clubs having to make their way with no leadership from the competition they play in.

We have a governing body giving out fines to clubs whose reason for not playing was due to the fact there are no funds to cover playing these matches, you couldn’t make it up! It’s no surprise most if not all of these clubs are looking to appeal, where do the National League think the few thousand pounds are going to come from?

Each club took the option most viable to them, to protect themselves against not being here next season or to carry on playing because they believe they could sustain it.

In my opinion the totally correct decision if I were a fan of any one of these clubs, and as a fan of another club I would want all of these clubs to be here to begin next season, why should 500-10,000 fans miss out on football and have no team to support because they took the right decision to protect the precarious financial situation of their club?

Dover are taking a lot of flak, but just for the next few minutes put yourself in the position of a fan in the white shirt. You play on this season you finish the season and as soon as the last ball is kicked the club announce closure due to being fully insolvent. That could be your club, any one of the other 65 that make up the National League. I’ve been there growing up seeing it happen at Maidstone Utd, I very nearly experienced it at Barnet as well, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone because if I am correct this Thursday is the deadline for applications for entry into the pyramid system and after that date well no football for you next season if you go bust.

What I do agree with is there should be a punishment handed out as per the league rules but the opposite way round to the way they have handled things. By all means make the points deduction stick but hand out suspended fines only invoked in a new season. That might still not please clubs but it’s what I believe to be fair given we are in the most unprecedented of seasons but under National League jurisdiction there appears no room for manoeuvre.

The next question then comes when clubs reply there is no £2000 or £8000 in the club to pay the fine, what then? Another fine? Suspension of the club affiliation by the FA until the monies are paid? We could be treading a very dangerous path.

Like most of this past year, common sense and a little leeway has been in very short supply in a lot of aspects of daily life. If the aim has been to trim down the number of clubs we have in England then they’re going about it the right way.

So much of this could have been avoided from the very start and I’m not surprised to see talk of a vote of no confidence in the National League board they’ve not covered themselves in glory throughout this period and the communication over the last few weeks has been non-existent. No doubt this one will run and run for a little while to come…………………

Bees fans wait a little longer

The managerial merry go round is all of a sudden in full swing and it doesn’t matter how well you’ve done at a club it can still be the final nail in the coffin.

In the past 24 hours we’ve seen Notts County dispense with the services of Neal Ardley whilst earlier on Thursday Bromley announced that they had relieved Neil Smith of his duties as First Team Manager.

You might not think too much of it as manager’s lose their jobs all the time, but both clubs are currently inside the play-off places, which if Bromley maintain their form is the highest placing the club would have ever achieved.

Does this mean managers in clubs all around these two might be fearing for their jobs? Are they worried the end is close for them whether they win a game or lose the next seven? It’s a dangerous situation being created and while we’re not privy to the ins and outs behind the decisions other than the released club statements it’s hard to work out what exactly is going on.

Similar to Jim Gannon who on the surface looked to be doing a sterling job at Stockport County, a culture change they wanted to install within the club despite at the time the club appearing well placed for some success.

Both managers appeared to be doing a good job on the pitch, the league position shows no doubt and with 14 games left to go now, the final run-in, it seems an odd time for either boss to go and now remains to be seen if either side will fall away over the course of those games.

That now means there are three current vacancies in non-league’s top division those two coupled with the Barnet job, open since the mutual departure of Tim Flowers two weeks ago, although County filled their spot quite quickly which might suggest Ardley’s fate had already been sealed.

Many and myself included were expecting an announcement to be in place in time for this weekend’s trip to Yeovil Town, Paul Fairclough saying his goodbyes after Saturday’s home defeat to Chesterfield and his three match stint was over.

 That trip to face the Glovers will be overseen by Head Of Performance Gary Anderson whilst the Bees continue to take their time in finding the right man. I believe the events of the past 24 hours have turned the chairman’s head that he is not yet convinced he has the right man for the job.

As Bees fans we know the next appointment has to be the one that can turn into the three year project that Barnet Football Club need. Having gone through two managers this season, both of which were not the right fit at all, the first we knew wasn’t, the second we hoped was but to no avail.

And whilst it might not be the best preparation for the weekend waiting just a few days longer might work out well to the advantage of the club. At the same time there is no midweek outing next week which would give Tony Kleanthous the weekend to finalise who exactly he wants in the hot seat and the structure in and around the football side of the club before the visit of Solihull Moors on Good Friday.

Can we expect Ardley or Smith to be in the frame now? I think so, at least one of them or maybe both, I don’t know what is in the thinking, both might even decide to have a few months off and see what’s available in the summer.

I would hope Smith is in the frame, not just because I know him reasonably well I think he can provide the stability we need but also is not afraid to tell it how it is. Plus his knowledge of southern based players would be an advantage if we aren’t wanting to spend out on long security of wages or relocation expenses.

I expect Dean Brennan and Harry Kewell still to be in the frame, however the longer it goes on you would think that maybe Kleanthous is not fully convinced by either appointment or he is making sure he exhausts all possible avenues.

Either way we’ve got a few more days waiting to see who’s next in the office at The Hive, but it must be done in time for Good Friday because it’s starting to look a little bit of a shambles the longer it goes on…….