Patience starting to wear thin

Tuesday evening under lights at The Hive. Another Tuesday, and another chance to get a National League win but the games are ebbing slowly away in what is still a surreal season of watching games taking place in an empty stadium via video links.

The last time Barnet met Yeovil was in the play-offs in June, I was sitting at The Hive watching the game with fellow Bees fans in the Legends Bar, a 2-0 win with goals from Paul McCallum and Mauro Vilhete, a memory that seems a very long time ago but not even a year old such is the weight this current season puts on the mind.

The highlights before this game of last season’s opening day encounter, the cheers and sight of fans inside the stadium, a win courtesy of a Simeon Akinola penalty, pleasure once more but nostalgic.

Expectations going into a game now are so different, Saturday at Hartlepool was about keeping the score down and not embarrassing ourselves on national television, against Yeovil, well keep it competitive, sad how far we’ve fallen in the space of nine months or so.

An unchanged team was expected against a Glovers side who a few months back were below the Bees after a tough start to the new campaign although a good run of results through December and January moved the side away from the relegation zone.

From the off, it was evidently clear which way this game was going, Scott Loach called upon to tip the ball round the post with less than a minute on the clock after the Glovers were able to just run at the Barnet defence, a theme that then occurred for ninety plus minutes to come.

One struggle all season has been defending set pieces or restarts as Tim Flowers likes to call them and once again they were the undoing of Barnet.

Just twelve minutes on the clock and a corner clipped in was blocked by Dunne on the line, but the rebound prodded home by Jimmy Smith. Whilst we digested going behind yet again, Barnet conceded again just sixty seconds later, another corner into the box and Billy Sass-Davies unmarked headed down and into the net as the Glovers extended their lead.

But then out of nowhere, the Bees reduced the deficit, from a set piece of their own, JJ Hooper with a hooked shot into the top corner giving Adam Smith no chance, mad fifteen minutes and three goals in the game.

The Glovers eased off a little after that, likely surprised that Barnet had indeed found the net, that being my primary concern before the game we’d forgotten where it was. Once again though it was as good as it got for the Bees over the course of the game as ill-discipline took over.

Tomi Adeloye picked up a yellow card for a foul just before the half hour mark followed by a second and a red card seven minutes later for blocking a free kick, the referee causing some confusion by not realising immediately he had already booked Adeloye earlier and the Bees left to play an hour with ten men and a goal behind.

Adeloye’s contribution since arriving late last week is no shots on target that I can recall, a yellow card on his Saturday debut and now a one match ban for the Tuesday night sending off, leave you to make of that what you will.

Flowers tried something different at half time withdrawing skipper James Dunne for centre back Themis Kefalas to go three at the back with a slight push on for Miles Judd and Richard Taylor but within five minutes of the restart Loach was forced into two more smart saves to keep the Bees within one goal of the visitors.

The change failed to work and ended up with Kefalas moving into central midfield to allow Alexander McQueen to head out to the right hand side where once again an opposing team was getting most joy at working the ball into the box.

Just before the hour mark Yeovil put their mark on the three points, Rhys Murphy getting in front of McQueen to flick the ball goal wards surprising Loach who was unable to keep it out.

Judd’s miscued cross gave Smith something to think about in the Glovers goal, tipping the ball over the bar and the closest the Bees came to a second. Chasing the game with ten men for so long allowed Yeovil to dictate the play with Barnet merely feeding on scraps and the visitors wrapped it up with a fourth goal ten minutes from time Josh Neufville curling home with Loach well beaten to send the Bees to yet another defeat.

I could easily cut and paste week after week at the moment, nothing changes in the positive with each passing game. One win in twenty games between two managers and a shed load of players isn’t doing anything except carry on in the wrong direction.

Ten goals shipped in the last three games tells its own story, but the back four are now all Flowers’ players, how long do you give it? The ball doesn’t stick up front, the midfielders are not box to box players so do you change your tactics to suit what you have for this season until you can get the personnel you want?

Blame can be accredited in lots of areas, we can go back to the end of those play-off games to start the trail, many a conversation has been had across social media in the last 24 hours. Tony Kleanthous should have moved quicker from that point to part ways with Darren Currie, the meeting took too long to happen which then delayed the appointment of Peter Beadle and the signing of players.

No time for a decent pre-season and players to bed in, Beadle was already falling off the tightrope then and the wobble was beginning. Out of his depth and then gone, Flowers brought in after not being good enough for the job in the summer, squad enlarges but results don’t change so what do you do now?

Do you say thanks it’s not any better than the last chap and change managers again? Whoever is in charge is going to have to get a tune out of the 30 odd pro’s we have on the books, the question is though why isn’t Flowers getting tunes out of the players he has brought in?

There could be a divide between three sets of players, some not listening to what is being asked of them and the others trying to implement and the end result is nothing.

We are where we are because we deserve to be, it’s not been anywhere near good enough and while the chairman and managers can shoulder the actions as to why we are looking ahead full steam at relegation the players all need to step up and prove they’ve got something to get the club out of the mess.

There is growing concern that underneath us some of the North and South clubs will play on which means relegation is likely to be back on the agenda, that decision will not be known for a few more days but if that doesn’t get things twitching around The Hive then we might just as well pack up, furlough, and accept a place in the National League South next year.

Maybe now is not the time for inquisitions etc, but something must change very very quickly but in all likelihood there aren’t very many signs to show that it will and across social media its plain to see that a lot of fans have now given up watching streams etc and a fanbase that was united last season is now fractured once again through a series of miscalculated decisions, now where have we heard that one before…………

Poor run continues for shot shy Bees

The trepidation of another game for the black and amber of Barnet is not doing many any favours as we wait to come out of the third lockdown. After Tuesday’s 5-1 capitulation at fellow strugglers Kings Lynn Town, in-form Hartlepool was the next destination for Tim Flowers side, the home team on a run of seven home wins in a row.

Another week brought more signings, striker Tomi Adeloye arriving on a short term deal whilst Richard Taylor signed on loan from League Two Southend Utd to fill the left back berth and with it a now completely replaced back four from those who started this season.

To cap it all the game was being televised live to the nation on BT Sport, I was going to be happy at the score being kept down to three in favour of the Monkey Hangers.

There was a little uncertainty as to the formation when the Bees lined up, but rather than Alexander McQueen taking up a right wing role and a 4-4-2, the winger-cum-full back was employed in central midfield alongside James Dunne and Harry Taylor while Adeloye made his debut more as a right winger within the three up front.

Whilst the Bees had a fairly bright start it was plain to see possession was going to be at a minimum for the visitors and although it took a while for Pool to get going once they did, the evening wasn’t going to get much better.

Cross after cross were finding their way into the penalty area with consummate ease but the Bees defended most well and a superb point blank save from Scott Loach kept the scores level just before the half hour mark.

JJ Hooper then had Barnet’s best chance of the afternoon, put through on goal but denied by the legs of Ben Killip and that was as good as it got in the final third for the visitors.

A couple of minutes after that chance, the home side took the lead with the ever dangerous Luke Armstrong turning the ball home after yet another unchallenged cross in the Bees box. Another smart save from Loach five minutes before half time kept the home side to just a single goal before the interval.

The second half saw Pool completely dominate and a combination of poor finishing and more fine stops from Loach that kept the scoreline to a single goal, Armstrong on another day could easily have had a hat-trick and Barnet dead and buried by half time. Despite only one goal between the two sides, the Bees looked unlikely to score at all and while a single goal defeat looks like an improvement on past performances it could well have been another thumping and no likelihood of pulling a goal out of the bag.

Taylor looked reasonable at left back despite having not played much football this season, Adeloye didn’t affect the game at all and was not surprisingly substituted after the hour mark, match fitness lacking also.

It’s still a worry that after now three months in the job Flowers has only picked up the one win and not much improvement on the pitch, the players either don’t understand what is being asked or just can’t carry it out.

The squad is now the size of a small country with most not likely to find themselves in the manager’s plans again this season unless a sudden rush of injuries present themselves, indeed we have six current loanees at the time of writing with only five permitted in matchday sixteen’s, bit baffling really!

It looks like we have three squads within one massive one, those from last year who don’t fit the style, Beadle’s budget buys and the ones Flowers has brought in and none of them are gelling very well.

How much more the chairman will fund is unclear, any more I would expect to be short term signings to the end of the season. The FA ratification can’t come quick enough so the club can work out if they are still in danger of relegation or whether players are playing for a contract for next season under reduced match conditions, squad numbers certainly won’t diminish with nowhere for the out of favour players to head to on loan and unlikely to take a contract pay off either.

All in all, the same sorry mess it looks from week to week, Yeovil at home this Tuesday, while we might keep the score down again, you just can’t see us troubling the scorers at the right end, oh well only a few more games to go…………..

Work to do for Flowers and Barnet

With so little football going on it’s harder to find the motivation to write a blog, trotting out the same National League disasters and if you don’t include Barnet FC in that last bit then we’re singing from different song sheets.

Almost twelve months on from that last seen game at Woking, the club is unrecognisable. I’m not a naïve person by any stretch of the imagination, this season was always going to be a nadir compared to the previous campaign but I had been expecting to make a better fist of it.

The relentless Saturday/Tuesday combination was in force once again this midweek as the Bees travelled to fellow strugglers Kings Lynn Town which would have closed the gap between the two clubs to three points with a Barnet win. Town’s financial problems are no secret and without news of further funding coming their way after this weekend’s home game with Weymouth they are unlikely to kick another ball in anger this season.

After Saturday’s flat and leggy performance against Woking, Tim Flowers would have been expecting an improved performance against a side one place better off than his team in the table but with a win at The Hive earlier in the season already in the bag.

Streaming away games for a fan has been hit and miss from what I read across message boards for the National League, indeed Barnet have had their fair share at the beginning of the season, but credit to the club on that side of things they have got it right.

Now we’re in February I really expect these things to work a lot more smoothly as we’re months into the season not games and for this stream to cut out after about five minutes and not be able to access it for another 15 minutes is pretty poor, no apology given either so I can only assume the home club had no idea or didn’t care. I’ll give them the tiny bit of credit for replying to my Twitter message pretty quickly.

Whilst unable to watch the action, the home side scored twice courtesy of ex-Bee Michael Gash, I’d love to be able to tell you if they were well in the ascendancy or poor defending but alas I couldn’t see, maybe a good thing in all respects.

I can only assume as well from tweets by fellow Bees fans that Jack Connors struggled at left back for match fitness having not been involved on the pitch under Flowers so far and was substituted for Alex McQueen straight after the second goal, just as my stream came back to life.

The Bees finally found their way onto the scoresheet just before the half hour mark, Scott Loach’s long goal kick put JJ Hooper in behind the Lynn defence and he halved the deficit. That though was as good as it got for Barnet for the remainder of the game.

Ten minutes later a superb save from Loach prevented Gash from completing a first half hat-trick, the home side going into the interval 2-1 in front, a danger from every set piece they had and Barnet looking like lost rabbits in headlights every time the ball came into the box.

The Linnets should have extended their lead through Sonny Carey five minutes after the re-start, his shot cannoning off the bar and away to safety. Just after the hour mark the game was effectively put out of reach for the Bees as Cameron King finished off a fine move after good work from Adam Marriott.

Then came the icing on the cake for the home side in the final five minutes as Dayle Southwell and Marriott scored within a minute of each other and leave last Tuesday’s win over Halifax as an almost long distant memory.

The win lifted the Linnets out of the bottom three replaced by Weymouth who have a seven point cushion to Barnet, the Bees with two games in hand but the way performances are starting to pan out again that’s pretty hollow.

I’ll admit I didn’t really watch much of the second half, I spent more time following the angry tweets on Twitter from Bees fans and answering messages, it enthralled me that much, pretty much similar when writing this it’s losing its motivation.

Flowers after the game bemoaned the restarts we don’t contest but the sessions are there in training so what is the problem? Are the players not good enough? Mentally can they not take things from one pitch to another? Is it a combination of both or is it something else?

I would say my own opinion is that of a combination of both. No disrespect to those pulling on the shirt, but clearly some cannot compete at this level, they’re getting found out every week. It took Eastleigh just forty-five minutes in the opening game of the season to work out how to beat us and almost everyone has since.

It’s alarming to see how some of last season’s good players have regressed so much this year, is it down to the players around them now compared to last year, are they not able to carry out the instructions wanted because they are mentally not tuned into things?

Having to rely on the FA ratification of the National League vote to avoid relegation is cheap, desperate, but the ways things are going on the pitch it’s the only saving grace.

Not to take anything away from either Woking or Kings Lynn, but full time professionals should be putting in a better shift than this, the cohesion should be tighter.

Tuesday night was the ninth time in 21 league games the Bees had conceded at least three times in a game, any Hartlepool fans reading this must be placing a bet of themselves scoring at least three, what price then a thumping in front of the BT Sport cameras this coming weekend……..

Bees fall flat after midweek high

Whilst the National League remains in a mess and embers of the vote smoulder away there are still games of football to play. Whether they actually mean something to everyone at Step One any more remains to be seen over the next few days and weeks, rumours abound and aplenty.

After Tuesday’s first win over Halifax in what seemed like an eternity, Woking were the visitors to The Hive as Barnet were looking to secure back to back wins for the first time this season, only two previous attempts had been possible.

When I think of Woking, you get good and bad memories. Last season it was the corresponding fixture that saw my first visit of the season and a 2-2 draw coming back from 2-0 down with a stoppage time goal from Ephron Mason-Clark, brought on by continued time wasting from former Bees stopper Craig Ross, more on that later.

The reverse fixture was the final time I saw Barnet in action last season, a quite superb scintillating performance from start to finish which extended the Bees run to one defeat in 17 matches.

That fixture this season was an absolute horror show losing 4-1 at the Kingfield Stadium while Peter Beadle’s post-match interview was the first I saw that felt he had no clue what to do from that game forward, we knew that before then though!

I easily felt we owed Woking a performance for as bad as we were on that day and with the Cards on the back of a poor recent run, it was time to back up the midweek win with another.

But it’s Barnet, never runs that smoothly does it! Losing centre half Ben Richards-Everton in the warm up didn’t bode well for the rest of the afternoon, an understanding developing well between the former Bradford defender and Liam Daly. Not to say Themis Kefalis had a bad game once the nerves had settled down a little, but his presence was going to be a miss.

There wasn’t a lot between the two sides in the opening 20 minutes, Woking cautious not to concede first with some fragile confidence of a bad run, Barnet keen to not to do likewise in a similar vein of mind. Neither keeper was tested either, Scott Loach was beaten however just over that mark only for Daly to head off the line to keep the scoreline level.

Loach was beaten again just a minute later and this one counted, Jamar Loza cutting in too easily from the Woking left and guided the ball past the Bees keeper into the bottom right hand corner, Loza loving The Hive this season having scored twice for Kings Lynn earlier in the campaign.

It then went from bad to worse for Barnet losing their second defender of the afternoon, Jerome Binnom-Williams succumbing to injury and a return to action for the previously out of favour Alexander McQueen.

Woking went in at the break a goal to the good, with Barnet lacking any urgency especially in the final third where the ball wasn’t sticking nor was Michael Petrasso unable to have any influence on the game, although they almost handed the Bees a chance to equalise just before half time but Xander McBurnie couldn’t exert enough pressure onto Ross to force a mistake.

The second half had no real impact from the home side, Woking controlling possession and only a fine reaction save on the hour mark from Loach denied the visitors a second goal. The tempo did pick up slightly with the arrival from the bench of Mason-Clark, but a cheap free kick given away by skipper James Dunne led to a goal which wrapped the game up for Woking.

Charlie Cooper’s free kick went through everyone in the penalty area and struck the post, rebounding nicely into the path of Moussa Diarra who stabbed the ball past Loach.

Antony Wordsworth had a couple of efforts straight down the throat of Ross, who picked up a booking for time-wasting in the final ten minutes of the game (didn’t see that one coming), but beyond that nothing happened for the Bees.

The performance was definitely very flat, very leggy, there wasn’t much left in the tank after Tuesday night so it appeared but there’s very little time to dwell on this one with a trip to Kings Lynn on Tuesday evening and another three points up for grabs.

Interesting to see on social media after some of the reactions from the players about the performance not being good enough, in my opinion it was better than a lot I’ve seen this year and granted some of that doesn’t take much but the squad is low on quality if some need to rest or need injury managing such as Petrasso and McBurnie, the latter getting through 60 minutes on his return from the treatment table.

With the season nearing an ‘up in the air’ moment with seven clubs having voted to null and void the current campaign, how many of those will in the next few weeks declare they no longer have the funds to carry on? While I don’t believe the season will end for all as per the vote to continue, there is a very good chance we may not play everyone twice this year and it’s a free hit for some, time will tell……..

Bees bag vital win

It’s back to Barnet on this blog, in fact a good couple of weeks since the Bees were last in action. Not much has changed in the world since then apart from ructions all over the National League but that can be for another blog.

Halifax Town. 2nd December, my birthday last year and Beadle’s collection on the way to a massive thumping, 5-0 down after an hour whilst I was making my way round London in Steve McKimm’s cab as a birthday treat to myself, better than the one the Bees would have delivered if I’d watched the stream instead.

Two and a half months on from then Barnet are in a position where draws are no good and wins only are welcome against a backdrop of uncertainty with regards to when, if, or maybe the National League will see a conclusion in any of it’s three divisions. In these times though professionalism is the only thing that can shine through and it’s been a tough ask for Tim Flowers and his staff with what they inherited, but that’s the reason they are now in the job.

There have been signs at times that things are coming together, new players incoming and a more compact team shape. Two recent postponements while might not have helped in getting a run together for results, you only have to look at Eastleigh currently, no covid or weather interruptions and now on a very good run.

What it has done though is allow Flowers to work harder on that team shape and expectation and give them time to gel the team together despite all the uncertainty off the pitch.

It’s pretty fair to say we were owed a performance from that December night, the same can be said when Woking visit The Hive this coming Saturday. Of course there are many differences from those two games to now and on Tuesday evening it certainly looked as if that training ground work and cohesion of team ethic and shape is beginning to bear fruit.

The early exchanges were fairly even as both sides settled into the game, an early chance for Courtney Baker-Richardson who got in front of his man but not enough purchase on it to trouble Halifax stopper Sam Johnson. At the other end Scott Loach made a fine save to deny the visitors the lead on 13 minutes, the impressive Jeff King at the hub of everything going forward for the Yorkshire outfit.

Liam Daly had a half chance to open his Bees account, a half volley which he cut across and ended up just past the post mid-way through the half. The visitors were enjoying more of the possession but Barnet looked dangerous when breaking forward and the Bees took the lead just after the half hour mark.

A marauding run from winger Michael Petrasso saw the Canadian let fly from around 20 yards and the ball slip through the fingers of Johnson to put Barnet in front for the second game running. The goal was Petrasso’s seventh of an injury hit season, a touch of class added to every game he plays in a Bees shirt.

Against both Aldershot and Altrincham in recent weeks Barnet were unable to hold onto a lead and you could only hope game management has been worked upon to defend a goal advantage.

It actually got better for the Bees before the half time whistle, Antony Wordsworth with what can only be described as a peach, a belter, a worldie, hit a half volley that just arrowed past Johnson and into his top left hand corner. Significant because it was the first time Barnet had been in front by two goals all season, we’re in February, you can tell how the season has really gone! And the last time we scored twice in a league match, yes away to Halifax!

Barnet being Barnet couldn’t go in 2-0 up though, immediately after Wordsworth’s wonder strike the Shaymen went down the other end and reduced the deficit in stoppage time King left unmarked at the far post and rifled the ball past Loach.

What you would have expected from that point based on the season so far was for Barnet to capitulate, but what I noticed as they walked off the pitch was the body language of the players, a sense of disappointment they’d let a goal in rather than that goal’s gone in and downhill we go from here, hard to explain but it looked more than it wasn’t going to faze them.

Sure enough it didn’t. As mentioned above the game management for the second half was spot on, every player carried out exactly what they needed to do.

Unsurprisingly the Shaymen threw everything at Barnet, but to a man they were equal to it all from JJ Hooper at the front to the back four, indeed Loach had no serious saves to make to ensure the Bees recorded their first win in 100 days and move off the bottom of the National League table.

It’s almost unfair to pick out from what was probably the best team performance of the season but here goes! Myles Judd as a loan player has had a stop start spell with suspension and games called off and looked like he wasn’t quite up to speed before last night, but that 90 minutes everywhere in the right place for an interception and as Flowers says he likes a tackle, can easily see this becoming a loan until the end of the season should his form continue.

Jerome Binnom-Williams has rightly taken some criticism across social media this season, nothing vile thankfully but a lot of questions around his time on the pitch. Yes, he went missing for the goal Halifax scored but beyond that he did what I think Flowers is asking for, just defend. A long way to go still for this guy but it’s finally looking like he understands what is required of him.

We now have two centre halves in Liam Daly and Ben Richards-Everton who just defend, head, foot, body, whatever is needed, we don’t need anything else there. Goals at set pieces will begin to come next I feel, one routine almost came off with Daly’s shot just off target from Richards-Everton’s header back across goal.

Hooper another one whose been in question as times, for me held the ball up better than he has done all season and put himself about more, also now understanding more what’s being required of him no doubt? Even when Muhammadu Faal came on for the last nine minutes, there was more correlation in his play to be in the right position and make it hard for the opposition.

As stated above Woking at home this weekend, a chance for back to back wins and another side we owe a performance against. The away game was the first time after watching Beadle’s post-match interview that I felt he didn’t know where to go from that game and downhill it went more rapidly after that.

100 days is a long time in the world of blogging and football, let’s hope it’s only going to be four days until the next victory, good news and joy is a rarity at the moment………

Shots on target against improving Bees

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………..

No sting for the Bees

With very little else going on in the non-league world currently, this is starting to get very National League and Barnet orientated so later this week it’s time to redress the balance a little bit as we enter a new month on Monday.

Watching your club decline so badly as Barnet are currently in the midst of is painful as every football fan knows. Normally these things go in cycles for clubs, a few years of success or that combined with not troubling the promotion race nor the relegation zone.

Depending on the outcome of National League voting in the coming weeks we will see what direction the Bees will take for the remainder of the season. Null and void for the North and South divisions should mean no relegation from the top division giving the club a free hit to rebuild.

If the opposite happens then Tim Flowers still has that massive job on his hands to lift the club from the foot of the table and out of the relegation zone to safety. There are plenty of games left to do so but as each one passes with another loss registered the task gets harder.

Barnet vs Torquay springs to mind for Bees fans going back to 2001 when the sides met in the final game of the season at Underhill where the winner stayed up and the loser went down to the now named National League. That was to be the clubs first of so far three relegations from the Football League in the last twenty years.

What could go wrong did go wrong that day for the Bees, first choice keeper Lee Harrison going off with injury, Darren Currie missing a penalty, Barnet going in at half time 3-0 down and despite pulling two goals back in the second half, relegation was confirmed.

Fast forward to the present day and if things continue as they are for both sides over the coming months, they could both be in different divisions once again with the Gulls storming clear at the top of the table.

After Tuesday night’s capitulation to relegation rivals Dover Athletic, Flowers demanded a reaction from his players and with another debutant in the line-up, Courtney Baker-Richardson on loan from Barrow, the Bees abandoned the three centre half experiment and opted to go what looked like 4-3-3.

That reaction was evident in the opening first few minutes but they were undone inside ten minutes, picked apart by one pass and finished by Ben Whitfield past Scott Loach.

The visitors controlled possession of the game throughout the half and despite plenty of huff and puff from the Bees, the lack of creativity in the final third along with the ability to fashion out any chances saw Shaun McDonald not make a single save, indeed through the full ninety minutes, JJ Hooper’s header over the bar the closest to the target the Bees got all afternoon.

Torquay certainly didn’t have to exert themselves in the second half, the Bees showing signs of fatigue after the heavy conditions they experienced on Tuesday night and it was no surprise to see the Gulls wrap up the points with a long range strike from Jake Andrews dipping in front of Loach and out of his reach to make it 2-0 to the visitors.

The returning Antony Wordsworth managed a good 70 minutes whilst Baker-Richardson ran out of steam after an hour, both players not seeing a lot of football over the last few weeks, Michael Petrasso looking bright after another substitute cameo.

This was never a game Flowers would have marked down as getting anything from but it’s another game gone and there is a need for points to be picked up on Tuesday night with a short trip to face Aldershot, more is needed in the final third of the pitch if the Bees are to make any inroads into the teams above them, results did go their way this weekend but nine points to safety is the current margin, which might all be irrelevant depending on voting by the NL clubs this week, onward reporting of the National League fiasco to re-commence then………..

What next for beleaguered Bees?

Blogging straight after a game is never a good idea and something I never try to do; it clouds sometimes what could or should be said and I prefer to get a balanced opinion across.

I’m also finding it’s get harder to write a balanced article when it comes to Barnet FC, I don’t think many will disagree with that either and there aren’t too many now believing the club is heading anything than other in a constant downward spiral.

Tuesday night’s defeat to bottom placed Dover Athletic put the Bees at a new low, replacing the Crabble based outfit at the foot of the table and looking like an out of control juggernaut that can’t be stopped.

Where do you begin to start? Losing a ‘six-pointer’ against the only side worse off than you in the table? Starting the season under prepared? Appointing the wrong manager? Letting go of a better manager? The buck stops at the top? So many questions, so many answers, so many opinions.

Well, let’s start with the most recent, Tuesday night at Dover. The conditions were monsoon-like but the same for both sides throughout the 90 minutes and one side were up for it more than the other.

As I would expect for an Andy Hessenthaler side they were up for the biggest game of their season so far, listening to the commentators they stated that the Whites had indeed put in some better performances over the last few weeks and maybe this was a performance coming. On the other side it was also Barnet’s biggest game as well but too many in white and amber didn’t show up, now whether that is down to ability, the players picked, the formation, the lack of conviction that a win could be garnered, maybe a combination of the lot?

Being led to believe that Tim Flowers and Hessy both interviewed in the summer for the job at The Hive, if either had been in from the beginning Barnet would not be sitting in the position they are now. I know our budget despite being chopped is still around mid-table in the National League, the performances on the pitch are far detached from that.

The lateness of appointing Peter Beadle in the first place, a man with a lack of knowledge at National League level has possibly set the tone for the season, almost like tomorrow will do, well those tomorrow’s run out every time a game is lost.

Sixteen games has shown he was the wrong appointment as many expected upon his arrival, and now we’re in a desperate battle to preserve a National League status that shouldn’t be in question.

The cost of now rescuing the season will be more than could have been used keeping Darren Currie and Junior Lewis in the summer. I know the reasons why they aren’t there, but I do know both still care deeply about the club as I speak to both and are alarmed at how quick the fall as been, two years ago we were selling out The Hive to take on Brentford in the FA Cup 4th round, how quick things can change.

The buck ultimately stops at the top of the tree, that we can’t deny. Downhill Second Half podcast pulled up on Twitter today a quote from Tony Kleanthous from 2017, stating where the club would be in 5 years’ time ‘simply we just need to get to League One ASAP’, we’re a million miles away from that.

At the end of the day, he appoints the manager who spends the budget and puts the players on the pitch, the latter bit he can’t control but it stems from the initial appointment and as he is in control of that and him only the fair share of blame has to be apportioned to him.

I am concerned Tim is not going to get a tune out of most of the players he inherited. His post-match interview pretty much confirmed that with the ‘you’re with me or we shake hands and you move on’, time has run out quickly for some.

And as he also commented on last night that he had to change formation again to try and get something out of the game, the personnel is not there to do what he demands which puts us at a bit of a crossroads.

The players do need to accept some responsibility, I know they are prepped well enough, Liam Daly has said as much on Twitter, Loachy would say the same, but for some reason it’s either not getting through or they’re not good enough to execute a game plan.

Do you now waste more money getting rid of those who just aren’t up to the standard required to get results in this division and then spend more to get in the right personnel to ensure survival? Much of that question will only be answered by what happens to the National League South over the coming weeks if they do indeed null and void their season which would give Barnet a free pass for the season.

That in itself is good reason not to spend any more money until it is decided one way or the other. Personally, I expect the National League itself to continue and finish the season because there surely would some ramifications from the Football League over promotion to and relegation from League Two, looking at the current table before Wednesday night’s games just two points separates seventh and sixteenth in the table, why wouldn’t those chairman want a crack at the play-offs and possible promotion?

NB This was written before the ‘statement’ issued from Tony Kleanthous which didn’t really tell us an awful lot as per usual.

Winless run for Barnet continues

Getting to watch a streamed game is back to being the best you can get for non-league football, not a chance of seeing live action for many more months if we’re honest. There is now also the real risk of the National League following the North and South divisions requesting a halt to the season over funding issues. But, for now it’s make the most of the opportunity against what are testing times for everyone across the country and the world.

Saturday was the first viewing of watch Barnet since Jan 2nd when they were comprehensively beaten by local rivals Boreham Wood at The Hive to deepen their relegation fears. Since then positive covid tests have confined Tim Flowers men to isolation and the training ground only, but with time for the new manager to work on patterns of play and formations.

As expected three new defenders signed during that barren period, Liam Daly, and Ben Richards-Everton permanently and Themis Kefalas on loan from Championship side QPR but as of yet still lacking the potent striker.

The visit of high flying Altrincham to North London would prove a stern test with the newcomers having won, lost and drawn six each of their games so far sitting in 6th spot at the start of play, Flowers Barnet needing wins rather than draws even with thirty games left to play this season.

Fielding a more attack minded side than has been seen this year Barnet had to throw a little caution to the wind, as stated just above the precarious nature of not only their league position but huge uncertainty as to whether there will be a conclusion to the season in the coming months which if settled by other means than on the pitch could result in relegation.

The Robins have impressed many so far since their promotion and have built a strong side, able to break at speed and that was evident throughout the full ninety minutes when any Barnet attack broke down.

The visitors looked the more likely to create the early openings, enjoying larger spells of possession than the hosts but it was Barnet who took the lead on 14 minutes, JJ Hooper back in the side after injury robbed a Robins defender of the ball and ran through unchallenged to slot the ball past Tony Thompson pretty much against the run of play.

Not that it did much to deter the visitors, their continued pattern of getting the ball down the flanks continued but without really causing the Bees too many problems. But they were back on level terms when Matty Kosylo who was a constant danger all afternoon managed to squeeze a shot through a crowd of players and beyond Scott Loach for the equaliser. Neither side created a clear cut chance after although there was an effort former Bee Byron Harrison could have converted for a Robins half time lead.

The same player missed a real guilt edged chance very early after the re-start which really should have put the visitors in front, Flowers responding with a change of formation as the game wore on to counter the constant pressure heading towards his team’s goal.

Despite this it took until stoppage time with a 2 versus 1 overload down the Bees right hand side, the ball finding its way onto the head of Robins defender Josh Hancock to flick the ball past Loach and the points were heading north.

Whilst this was a much better Bees performance defensively despite the loss the lack of presence in the final third is still alarming. Both Pavey and Hooper ran out of steam long before the end of the game, lack of match fitness for both is very evident and ninety minutes in the tank despite not much of a second half showing was needed for both players.

Good to see Michael Petrasso back from injury as well but without the front men gambling in the box some of the balls he played in today deserved better. Much depends on whether the chairman will gamble on more players given the nature of what is going on off the pitch with the National League which might put a halt on things for a lot of clubs and what we have now is what we  have to utilise for the foreseeable future, big game at Dover on Tuesday night where nothing less than three points can be settled for.

Despite the fact this would have been a good point the gap to safety and then beyond is looking a tall order given it’s run of eleven league games without a win that stretches back to October, wins are at a premium and while defensively it was an improvement today it has to get much better in front of goal or should the season continue then relegation is very much looking a reality.

Roughly 40 more points are going to be required from the 29 games remaining the points are there to be played for, whether there is enough within the squad to get those points remains to be seen, null and void for the season would seem an ideal dream if you’re a Bees fan……….

Back the boss or survival we won’t make

Well, where do we go from here? Having just sat through Barnet getting tanked by local rivals Boreham Wood in front of the nation on BT Sport, it’s no wonder I’m writing this one with a bottle of beer beside me! I think to describe what Barnet FC look to me and many others as a shambles or utter embarrassment is the polite way of looking at it.

Really the only way is up given we are currently second from bottom, three points off Dover Athletic who have four games in hand while the gap going the other way is growing week on week while the Bees look cast adrift.

I don’t doubt Tim Flowers knew the size of the task when he stepped in the door at The Hive a few weeks ago, this evening he is under no illusion now. The display against Wood goes deeper than just this one game, this has been the pattern of the previous 13 games and is why the goal difference of now minus 24 and just 11 goals in the opposition net, that might be this season but again it goes even deeper than that.

You can go back as far as 2010 when it comes to managerial appointments that haven’t worked appointed by the chairman Tony Kleanthous, well even further if you count Tony Cottee, Mark Stimson, Lawrie Sanchez and of course the saviour of the vision in Mark Robson in 2012. Enter Edgar Davids that time to drag the club to the final day of the season which when he arrived they had no right to get that far, but ultimately unable to stay in the Football League.

Then we have the debacle of 2017-18, five managers in a year. Nugent, Eames, McGhee, Westley, Allen, the latter arriving like Davids with the club rooted to the foot of the table but with less time and games to invoke the ‘Great Escape’, as per Davids taken to the final day but again not enough and relegation once again to the National League and to today’s bottom three position currently staring relegation to the National League South, yes I kid you not, that is the stark reality of the situation.

Ten league games without a win shows the mess the club is in; Beadle quite rightly was sacked well out of his depth. His appointment was made far too late into the summer, he wasn’t even a name mentioned in dispatches and his recruitment was poor. Being based towards the West Country and having operated mostly below National League level, it was remarked to me ‘what does he know about players at that level’ and ‘does he know his budget won’t go far on London players’.

That person wasn’t far wrong I can tell you from what we see in front of us. Did Darren Currie do the right thing and protect his fledgling reputation given that we heard the budget wasn’t big enough to rebuild the squad? I know from speaking to people within the game our budget is still not too shoddy for that division so to me that suggests Beadle didn’t know what was good enough for it to be spent on.

The cheaper or untested option hasn’t worked in the past Robson being the prime example but at least Davids had something to work with including sticking himself out there to play, Flowers has not been left with a lot and those who are decent enough are shorn of any confidence.

So far two more have arrived on loan in Ben Fox and Myles Judd, both impressing with a debut red card, not the fault of the boss but when you’re down there needing fighters, missing players are not much help. Flowers alluded to a couple more players coming in next week, so with Beadle and Jenkins seemingly paid off, Flowers coming in with a backroom staff and four players so far when more are going to be needed, would it not have been more sensible to have done this first time around in the summer especially when it’s understood Flowers interviewed then?

I don’t like to dig players out as under-performers, can be any number of reasons for it but what I saw tonight was a player who looked the route cause of the defensive issues.

When Ben Nugent was signed, pedigree looked what we needed with a solid amount of Football League appearances and I felt if that is the calibre we could get then the season might not turn out so bad. But for a six foot odd centre half who is incapable of defending with his head, you can’t excuse that. Three assists he picked up tonight for the opposition and one poor clearance went backwards for nearly a fourth only for another fine save from Scott Loach, who if it wasn’t for the Bees keeper we would have been five or six goals down by half time.

Leadership from senior players with that experience you expect better but you watch the same on repeat from week to week it wears a little thin and he must be one of the first to be sitting things out.

The finer point of tonight’s ramblings? Unless Kleanthous backs Flowers for exactly what he wants and needs just for the club to survive then National League South is where the club will be come next season, it is nowhere near strong enough on the pitch and whilst others around us are now starting to pick up points and many have games in hand on us improvement has to start this coming Monday.

The buck stops at the chairman’s door, no question, and not for the first time. At the time in the summer when he went for Beadle and not someone with the experience to manage at this level coupled with the later start to the season it was either going to be a wise move not to spend loads or blow up badly which the current position says we’re in the latter category.

The only thing on our side is the fact there are still plenty of points to play for but with no backing we might as well pack up and take the relegation now. Flowers has the ability and passion for Barnet to survive in the National League but stop messing around with the club, us as supporters deserve better.