Loach: I’m with them on their whole journey

On Wednesday 12th May former Watford, England, Hartlepool and current Barnet goalkeeper Scott Loach launches his own goalkeeping school. Last week I caught up with the experienced stopper to find out why he ended up at Barnet, how the coaching school developed and his plans for the future when the gloves are finally hung up.

Here is part one of the interview, part two follows on Tuesday evening:

TK: What set you on the way to being a goalkeeper?

SL: Haha! Well two reasons, it happened when I was eight and on trial at Ipswich. I wanted to be a striker really, but the keeper got injured so I went in goal and it was one of those games where I dived the wrong way and still saved the ball, deflected shots etc, all kept out so the scout watching said ‘he’s a keeper’. So back on trial as a goalkeeper and here I am.

The second reason is a die-hard Manchester Utd fan growing up with the Class of ’92 and Peter Schmeichel, not fussed about anyone else but have never met him. He’s the only one I’d be a fan of and ask for a picture!

TK: What was it that brought you to Barnet where you are now?

SL: Two reasons here also and you know already one of them. Firstly, the infrastructure there. I’d always played well at The Hive for opposition teams, location was just about ok for travel for my family and I.

But the biggest reason I signed was Darren (Currie). I can remember exactly where I was when he phoned me, I’d just dropped off my wife at our friends place and nipped to Sainsburys to grab some bits, Daz phoned me and by the time I was back from shopping I knew I was going to Barnet.

I had some league interest but logistically with my daughter starting school, my son there too, it would have meant moving but Daz sold it to me, not the dream but wanting me as a player which is big, was honest and straight up and made me want to come and work for him. From what you see on social media I’m not the only one to say things like that.

TK: The coaching school which launches on Wednesday evening, has it been something on your radar to want to do or something that’s come up as an opportunity?

SL: I’ll be honest, I had a little dabble at it a few years ago and hated every single minute of it. I’ve always loved working with kids, got a big family and means you never have to grow up!

Ask Sparksy (Dan Sparkes) Elliott Johnson or Cal (Callum Reynolds) our car school I’m a coffee addict so it was always coffee shops, coffee shops. Then lockdown hit and it was Adam Collin the ex-Notts County keeper who has his own coaching school and asked me to come to help him out and I literally fell in love with it.

In my local village there are 40 teams ranging from age 6 all the way up to men’s teams and women’s teams as well so I thought I’d see if there was any interest and since that first lockdown last year it’s just taken off and taken off and now I’m obsessed with it!

This year at Barnet we had firstly Rhys Evans and then Darren Acton for just a couple of days a week so that gave me time with Aymen (Azaze) and James (Callen) so I’m taking the credit for those two this season!

Have to say though Darren was first class, but a massive shout out to Rhys, I wish I could have worked with him full time the way he was set up, brilliant. We also had Jamie Stephens coming in as well, what a player! Aymen will tell you the pair of us could just watch Jamie glide through training.

TK: Given your current situation at Barnet has that allowed you more time to get things in place ready for the launch night?

SL: Yeah, for the last three weeks or so I’ve been training elsewhere so I’ve had more time at home to plan and get in more sessions after school. Not being big-headed but I do have a bit of a name in the game with Watford and the England stuff but I’ve never really used it and kids now are looking up to it and thinking ‘wow’.

It’s not going to be built in a day but hopefully we’ll start with two evenings a week so I split the kids up and that way smaller groups you can work more intimately with to get the best out of it.

They’re coming down for me, I’m not one that’s going to be trying to sell his gloves, kit etc if your hero is David De Gea you come in a De Gea, if it’s Aymen Azaze then you come as Azaze, had to get his name in here somehow!

I’m with them on their whole journey, I’ve had my nephew recently with me whose seven and at Nottingham Forest and another lad whose 12 but both get the same workout, I don’t believe in dumbing it down or up depending on age.

TK: Why Southwell? Is it the nearest village to you?

SL: It’s my village! If you’ve seen Hot Fuzz it’s exactly like that village, in fact I’m sure it was based on it! It’s a little posh village just outside Nottingham, everyone knows everyone it’s one of those kinds of places, I grew up here, its given me great memories and my best friend here is the first team manager, they’re doing very well at Step 7.

They’ve said to me I can use all the facilities, floodlights in the winter etc in return for a free session every now and then, we’ll help you raise your profile at the same time so they’ve been brilliant so far for me.

I really want it to be the hub of the community on a Wednesday evening, families can come down, siblings can play in the park next door and parents can come and have a drink and as the club itself grows with a new ground then it becomes more nights a week.

For more details check out Scott on social media:

http://www.scottloach-gk.co.uk

scott@scottloch-gk.co.uk

Instagram: scottloachgk

Bees outclassed by rampant County

Image courtesy of @BenFullyLove

The final throes of what has been an underwhelming season for Barnet FC. 99% of us are ready for the end to come and put this sorry effort of 42 games in the record books but better ‘Men in Black’ style erasing it from memory.

The latest side to visit The Hive were Notts County needing the points to maintain a play-off charge that had gone very much up one minute and very down the next, and with a cluster of clubs still chasing the end of season party the three points were needed to head home to Nottingham.

After a win on Bank Holiday Monday at Weymouth and the first double of the season, Simon Bassey was forced into one change, the suspended Antony Wordsworth replaced by Matt Preston as the Bees went for three at the back.

As was very much expected County controlled the possession through Michael Doyle but despite all their pressure and ball retention they created very little as Barnet blocked, hurried and made life difficult for the visitors.

County almost snatched the lead after 26 minutes, Alex McQueen in the right place to clear off the line to keep the scores level whilst ten minutes later Ephron Mason-Clark almost found the bottom corner with his shot but the wrong side of the post.

It appeared that the sides would go in level at half time, but the visitors went in a goal to the good in stoppage time. Having defended well for 45 minutes the Bees failed to clear from a corner and ball dropped nicely in front of Mark Ellis and the defender smashed it home beyond Adam Parkes.

Whilst Bassey had to deliver a different half time team talk than he planned it surely would have been along the lines of keep it tight at the beginning of the half but that went out the window within a minute of the restart.

Calvin Miller skipped down the left and fed Rueben Rodrigues to add a second goal for County. Just before the hour mark, the game was beyond Barnet as Ben Nugent turned the ball into his own net with the County pressure constant and unrelenting.

County then wrapped up a commanding victory five minutes from time with Enzio Boldewijn cutting in from the visitors left hand side and curled the ball beyond Parkes.

There was time for substitute Michael Petrasso to grab a consolation goal in the last minute but the Bees were soundly beaten for the second Saturday in a row.

Not too many positives for Bassey and as he said in the post-match afterwards no good beating the bottom sides and rolling over against the top sides. Quite clearly the lack of fitness and energy amongst most shows they can’t compete against a side who can press you for 90 minutes.

 Matt Preston was solid in the back four until his action was cut short by injury and Sam Skeffington provided his usual energy across the midfield, getting sharper and more involved with every game while Mason-Clark was at the heart of trying to spark something to happen. As previously said it’s these games that Bassey learns more about the squad than victories.

A trip to another play-off chasing team in Eastleigh this coming Saturday will be another strong test but one that ticks us ever closer to the season’s end and by the time we head to Hampshire, we should know whether we can grace The Hive before the end of May, not sure everyone however will be pleased with that news……

Talk the talk, now walk the walk

Over the last couple of days I posted Jim Kavanagh’s reaction to the Tony Kleanthous interview brought to us by the excellent Beespod guys. Having been a guest with Mem and Iain, I’m really pleased they managed to secure the interview with much help from the excellent Adam Rowe, have a lot of time for these three chaps.

I’m not going to make this a long one, Jim’s covered a fair bit in his opinion but there are some bits I heard that I wasn’t in agreement with. However, it was right to get this interview, Tony needed to do it to at least help people to understand as far as he could on some matters so if you were expecting hard hitting questions then you’ve missed the point.

They will come in time; this is about building bridges and a lot of them in fact. That’s not going to happen overnight and for some the boat has already sailed from that broken bridge and won’t be coming back.

To me it was the other side of the story to hear and for others too, most of you know I speak to a lot of people who were connected with the club. I’m not naïve to say they don’t speak to anyone else or any other fans, of course they do so some now have heard both sides of the story.

Part 2 I certainly felt more critical of, possibly because it’s very current and because more of the conversations I’ve heard the other side of the story.

But let’s start on a point that really astounded me, the National League not starting. As a board member of course I expected TK to have inside knowledge, call it one of the perks. As a collective board to think the season was never going to start I was gobsmacked! It’s as close to a 5th division of the professional game as it gets and it was always going to start. If that’s the case it looked like we were the only ones not planning for a re-start then, awful leadership from a board that needs to be replaced this summer.

Peter Beadle unlucky? Not a chance! From that point above he was always behind the game from day one, a man plucked from backwaters and with no or extremely little knowledge of players at our level and a smaller pool to pick from based on our reasoning above. Surely TK saw the quality was poor in what we were signing? If he didn’t and professes to have a poor memory of people, then this Director of Football is much needed or mistakes will repeat themselves.

The dispensation for the goalkeeper loan, laughable in respect of two things. One, we had six players on loan under Tim Flowers so one had to be left out of the squad, matchday rules of five, always has been. Same happened under Martin Allen one year so it’s not new. Why then did TK think the rules would be bent to accommodate us where we have the loan signings to help out after poor recruitment in the summer?

Secondly, that brings us on nicely to the furloughing of players! I’m not going to spend too long on this as I think I’ve thrashed it to death over Scott Loach. If he wanted to avoid the above, then Loach should have been recalled, forget the cash side of it.

Six players left under contract is the same amount as Beadle started with so let’s hope we get it right this time. As far as I am aware Ben Richards-Everton and Liam Daly are two of the six, the four could be options but we’ll be aware on 31st May no doubt.

Paul McCallum saved our season. Not convinced he saved it, Paul McCallum added the missing ingredient yes, but one player we needed back in June when he was top of the list for Darren to come in but money wasn’t spent then. To say Hendo saved the season by getting the deal over the line was a bit over the top in my opinion, as an agent he got a top drawer deal for Macca out of Solihull and he did give us that extra spark, leading me onto the next point though.

Woking away, that wet Tuesday night in Surrey and probably the complete performance of the season. One defeat in 17 games, games in hand, everything firing, but that’s not a play-off team? Tell me then, what did that team need to do? Because that was one hell of a run with a group of players in which Darren signed just four of them, one of which was out with a broken ankle. They were that close they still have their WhatsApp group going despite being at different clubs, I’m pretty sure that isn’t a common occurrence everywhere?

My last point is on DC and the level of crowds. I am as guilty as anyone picking and choosing my games, I have a 5 hour round trip to The Hive and back and most of the times I went was seeing friends I’ve made over the years. Sometimes it’s lovely driving up on your own and even sitting watching the games alone something I’ve done lots of times, other occasions you want the company. I follow a lot of non-league football, have so much on my doorstep and at times it’s been very unappealing to watch this football club, not just the performance on the pitch but the way things are done off the pitch for us the supporters.

The bigger picture needed to be looked at here. Yes crowds were still low when DC got the team playing but why? It took a while to get that team going I know, but the crowd syndrome goes beyond last season.

To me off the pitch we do things half-cocked and then wonder why people jump up and down at it. We put together a wonderful season ticket offer for this season, applause for that. But we buried it in an article announcing Darren and Junior were leaving, that’s not common sense.

Similar was done this season with the statement put out, Simon Bassey and Dave Anderson’s arrival almost a footnote when we should be putting these great things in a post where it can be digested better.

This is now the breakthrough moment where things have to get better and improve. I called a long time ago this season for Tony to have a strategy, a process, and to follow it, now we have it, the talk has been talked, time to walk the walk…….

Guest series: Reaction to the Beespod Tony K interview part 2

“We’re on our way!”

I’ve listened to part 2 of the Beespod interview now and it has raised some interesting discussion points. I really enjoyed writing the last article, so thought I would finish the job and review part 2 before the novelty wears off or one of you has a chance to tell me to stop!


 A little like part 1, when TK talks us through the timeline relating to the start of the on-off-on again National League season, it makes sense that with his National League Board hat on, he would have been privy to info that would have led him to believe that there was little chance of the league season starting. As a result, player recruitment would just have been a complete waste of money, and if we know anything about TK it’s that he doesn’t like to waste money.

What I found interesting was although he was quick to point out that he wasn’t being critical of Flowers, he seemed to suggest that he thought that Beadle had performed better in his role than Flowers, with significantly fewer options available to him. There were some games when we looked reasonable under Beadle, I don’t think we played 45 mins of football under Flowers where we looked even vaguely decent. Even now when I look back, I’m still astonished by quite how poor we were. We were indeed ‘mingin’!

TK stated that he doesn’t like the term “Director of Football”, but I don’t care what he calls it. After listening to him talk about the new structure though, I actually don’t think that the DoF role, is as important as it once was, because TK has seemingly learnt from his mistakes and is taking steps to fill the individual roles that will be needed by the club moving forward if we are to reverse the decline and get anywhere near fulfilling TK’s ambition of returning to League 1.

If we have club-based recruitment, coaching, physio, medical & performance-based staff, many of which TK binned off post-relegation, then the need for someone to be working above them in an overview role isn’t really required if TK is on the ball. Even ignoring that TK had dropped the ball, without these roles filled at the club, it would have been next to impossible for anyone to have done all of them to any decent degree.

For as much as many of us have fond feelings towards Martin Allen, there is no ignoring the impact that his arrival each time meant Paul Fairclough was shunted out of the role because Mad Dog wants to be in control of everything and there is no place for a DoF. Well by the sounds of it the Mad Dog days are well and truly gone because TK will be appointing only head coaches to coach and manage the team, but the recruitment will remain in-house and despite this being what is often described as a ‘Continental model’, I have to say that I think it’s perfect for our club.

Following on from that, and going back to something I mentioned yesterday, TK sees Bassey very much as a Coach, and while that might initially suggest that there is someone else coming in above him between now and the start of next season, my thinking now is that anyone coming in above him won’t be a Manager but will be a DoF instead.

Now we get to the nitty-gritty, TK responding to Mem about the furloughing of players. He admitted that he wasn’t even aware that it was possible, until Chesterfield did it, but once they did, it isn’t really a surprise in hindsight that we followed suit. I accept that there will be some merit with regards to TK’s claim that some of it is based on keeping unhappy players away from the club rather than being financially driven, but some of that just doesn’t stack up when you start picking at the bones.

One of the players that TK specifically mentioned was Antonis Vasiliou, who he used as an example of someone who didn’t fit the Tim Flowers blueprint of a player who would be good at the “nuts and bolts” stuff that he was basing our style of play on. The only problem with using Vasiliou as an example of a player who didn’t suit the managers preferred playing style, and so should be furloughed, is that Vasiliou wasn’t furloughed. Little Antonis was in most of the Flowers match squads and is probably the only player besides Scott Loach to come out of the Flowers period with any credit at all. So why wasn’t he furloughed I hear you ask?

The reason can only be because he was earning a low wage so why bother furloughing him? The Loachy situation also raised alarm bells in so much as I don’t think TK was clear on this, I expect Loachy was furious when it happened and wouldn’t have been backwards in making his feelings known, but I also fully expect that Loachy would have agreed to come back after the injury to Aymen.

Maybe I’m just being negative by thinking that if Loachy was paid less TK would have at least picked up the phone to ask him how he felt about returning. There is a big difference between recalling Loachy from furlough without asking him how he felt about it, and doing so after a conversation to see if it was something he was interested in. You could even dress it up as a call to see how his rehab was going? Am I being too harsh? I don’t think so. I wouldn’t have blamed Loachy if he had refused to return, but from what I know of him I would have been surprised. Just to finish off on a positive though, TK did at least say that we had been topping the players wages up to 100% from the 80% paid by the government.

Something that I had heard before was that Pavey wasn’t a Currie signing and I thought it was hilarious to hear TK say that he had actually been signed instead of whoever his strike partner was at Dover, only we could sign the wrong “big lad up front at Dover”! While we’re on the subject of Pavey, I think he is possibly a player who will have benefitted from being furloughed. He really wasn’t having a good time at the club and I understand that he wasn’t happy at all when he was recalled from his loan spell, so Pavey is an example of a player that does fit in with what TK is saying about furlough, and his partner is about 7 months pregnant by now too. I really wanted to see him fight back from his injury and was gutted that it just couldn’t seem to work out for him. In his case furlough is probably good for all involved.

Surprisingly, my biggest issue with what TK had to say in part 2 wasn’t furlough related at all and was all about our performances in the play-offs last season. He said we were awful but refused to acknowledge that we had lost half a side. We only had one centre-half left at the club, Dan Sweeney & Callum Reynolds had declined to re-sign for the playoffs, our right back, Cheye Alexander, had a deal lined up with League 1 AFC Wimbledon where he has become a regular, and our set piece specialist Dan Sparkes was probably sick of sitting on the bench so he didn’t want to stay either.

The trio of Vilhete, Santos and Johnson who chose to stay and play for us in the play-offs despite effectively being free agents, is something that we should remember the next time our paths cross. You would be right in saying that we had Taylor and Johnson who were able deputies at the back, but they hadn’t been playing with Santos all season and while they certainly did a job, they were unable to perform in their regular positions. I found this astonishingly short-sighted and blinkered from TK, but maybe this was more of his lack of attention to detail during this period which seems to have been a trend. That squad, with those 5 players, Coulthirst & Akinola would have given anyone a run for their money in those games. TK suggested that we benefited from covid via the PPG decision, but I think we were nailed on to make the playoffs anyway and if anything, covid actually robbed us.

TK’s “model” of the club being funded by the surrounding business enterprises seems genius in its simplicity, and in view of the wage caps it would seem to be even more astute moving forward. Something that has concerned me quite a lot recently is that if something serious happened to TK, God forbid, I would be concerned about the long-term health of the club in the respect of who owns what and who might make the decisions in the long-run moving forward. While there are no guarantees, TK did actually mention that and it allayed my fears somewhat.

The only thing I would say, to argue against myself, is that while some might try to portray a picture of everyone leaving the club unhappy and slagging them off, Hendo represents Paul McCallum and was instrumental in him coming in on loan last season, and Graham Stack has offered us Adam Parkes who is under his tutelage at Watford. Although these individual players both benefit in different ways by coming here, Hendo, and Stacky, obviously said more positive things than negative things about the club.

I think sometimes it’s easy to believe the person who shouts loudest and maybe we should wonder why we are listening to someone who is shouting at all…… I know we are far from perfect as a club but I really liked TK’s strategy of trying to get things right 80% of the time. I personally think that’s quite a modest ambition in business, but TK is TK and I’m me so I think we’ll go for his strategy for the time being.

What I really liked about this 2nd part of the interview was his passion and dare I say it, barely disguised anger at the suggestion that there would be no place for a Supporters Association at the Hive. To be honest I thought he was quite clever. He told us all about what he was doing and basically threw it back at us and asked us what we’re doing to help. It’s very hard to argue with him although I suspect that had this not been the 1st meeting Mem/Iain might have raised the subject of ticket pricing with him, but that’s well kept for another day.

In summary I would say that I’m really hopeful after hearing this. Not just blind hope in the way that we all hope for better things in the future, but real tangible expectation of significant improvement moving forward. The last relegation really hurt us and it sounds like it was a huge body-blow to TK too, but it also sounds like he’s taken the hit, dusted himself down and is willing to come out fighting and put it right.

The problem of course though is that none of this stuff works if TK doesn’t recruit the right people and that record is poor. I would say though that it’s just the recruitment of managers that he’s rubbish at, and as he’s looking for a head coach rather than a manager, then maybe, just maybe, things will improve. Rossi Eames & Henry Newman did phenomenal work with the Academy before being moved up to the senior team, Mark Robson has proved elsewhere that he is a very good coach and should have been employed as a head coach rather than a manager, there are others if you look.

I know there are still many who are unhappy and it will take time to win them over, just as I know that there are some who are gone forever, but I think Adam Rowe is really having a positive impact at the club and we just need to get the ball moving and pick up some momentum. TK mentioned the “we’re on our way” song and it would be great to hear that again before too long. We might have a long way to go, but to get anywhere you always need to take the 1st step, I think we’re finally on our way now.

Come on you Bees!

My thanks to Jim Kavanagh for contributing these two pieces for me, hope you’ve enjoyed them!

Follow Jim on Twitter, @Jimbokav1971

Ten man Bees gain three valuable points

A trip south to Weymouth awaited the Bees on Bank Holiday Monday as they looked to put in a better performance than the weekend defeat to Dagenham at The Hive where they were comprehensively outplayed.

Simon Bassey rung the changes to his starting line-up, conscious of those who aren’t long returned from injury and those who haven’t got 90 minutes in them which he alluded to post match on Saturday.

That meant a return to the starting line-up for Ben Nugent, Tomi Adeloye, Sam Skeffington and Antony Wordsworth whilst Matt Preston and Michael Petrasso dropped to the bench, Sam Beard out through injury and Liam Daly missing altogether for the second game running. With Beard out Alex McQueen slotted into the left back role, one of the problem positions all season.

On a blustery afternoon both sides struggled to put together a decent set of passes in a game that was being played for not much more than pride, one of the few times Barnet were looking to complete the double over opponents this season.

Indeed there was very little to shout about for the first twenty minutes, Barnet set up nicely and the hosts struggling to break them down. The Bees first effort of the game didn’t come until the 22nd minute when Ephron Mason-Clark tested Ethan Ross in the home goal but shot straight at the stopper.

Just a minute later the Bees winger tested Ross once again, this time the fierce shot from Mason-Clark needed to be tipped over the bar as the Bees began to find a little bit of momentum going forward.

And it was the visitors who opened the scoring not long after the half hour mark. A corner from the left was headed back across goal from Nugent for fellow centre half Ben Richards-Everton to prod home for his first goal in Barnet colours.

The Terras should have equalised two minutes after the goal, Calvin Brooks with a great chance but couldn’t find a way past Bees keeper Adam Parkes. The remainder of the game until half time was a scrappy affair, neither side able to create many chances and the home side slightly stunned to be behind.

Weymouth knew they needed to come out for the second half with more intent on breaking down the visitors compact defending, but it was the Bees who nearly increased their lead just four minutes into the second half, Adeloye shooting straight at Ross.

The balance of the game looked like it was going to change in the 54th minute when Wordsworth was sent off for a dangerous challenge, his second red card of the season likely to earn him a four match ban and a potential last appearance in a Bees shirt, lack of fitness and indiscipline might cost him a place in next season’s squad despite a wand of a left foot.

As it was the Bees dug in and kept a really good shape which the home side were struggling to break through, the visitors left to play on the counter attack with the pace of Mason-Clark and Adeloye.

On 68 minutes McQueen saw his free kick tipped over the bar by Ross in one of the rare opportunities the Bees had a chance to score from, but 13 minutes from time Barnet made sure of the points as from a Terra’s corner, Adeloye was set free from inside his own half, sprinted clear and finished with aplomb past Ross for his third goal of the season.

Mason-Clark should have made doubly sure of the points three minutes later after a mazy run but his effort couldn’t beat Ross. Weymouth pushed and probed for a way back into the game but the Bees held firm and a third win in seven for Bassey now sees Barnet five points behind Kings Lynn with six to play.

This was certainly a better performance than against Dagenham but granted Weymouth did not pop the ball around as well as the East Londoners. The energy of Skeffington around the pitch was much needed while Mason-Clark and Adeloye gave the Terras defence no end of problems all afternoon and always looked likely to create something.

Mason-Clark has certainly seen something of a revival under Bassey and looks much more the player who has been told to play, take on defenders and worry players with his pace, that’s his game and not difficult to get him to play it.

Mention again for Themis Kefalas who picked up what is turning into a customary yellow card just before half time, defended sensibly once again for the remainder of the game compared to his midfield colleague who didn’t complete the 90 minutes.

Still six more games to play as we head through May, some tough, some where we could pick up enough points to hit a meagre thirty for the season, at least we have seen some pride return in these past few weeks and whilst I’m enjoying the fact we’re competitive in the most part, like most others I can’t wait for this sorry excuse of a season to end……………………

Familiar traits back to haunt us

After tasting defeat midweek at title chasing Sutton Utd, Barnet were back at The Hive at the weekend where under performing Dagenham & Redbridge were the visitors in the first of two matches over the Bank Holiday weekend.

The Bees more than matched the U’s on Tuesday evening and with the games coming thick and fast in May, there is no let up for a threadbare squad, well not that bare if those on furlough were allowed to play.

After keeper Aymen Azaze suffered a potential season ending injury in the midweek defeat, Adam Parkes was brought in on an emergency loan from Championship side Watford leaving former number one Scott Loach still on furlough, the former making his debut between the sticks.

There was also a return to the starting line up for Michael Petrasso whilst Antonis Vasiliou was back on the bench as Simon Bassey had to juggle the numbers with no Liam Daly nor Sam Skeffington.

The pattern for the full ninety minutes was set within the first ten minutes of the game, the visitors controlled possession and Barnet only able to play on the counter attack, possibly the best way with the lack of ability and quality within their ranks.

However it took until the 21st minute for ex-Bee Paul McCallum to draw a save out of Parkes and the young keeper wasn’t called into action until 12 minutes later to save from Angelo Balanta. In-between the Bees were struggling to retain possession, something that’s become a feature of the past few performances.

With the Daggers getting most of their joy from the marauding wing play of Mauro Vilhete and Andy Eleftheriou, any goal looked like it was going to come from either side with a ball into the box.

As it was it came from a set piece, the undoing of Barnet’s season. Parkes carried the ball out instead of releasing it and from the corner, despite a one handed save from the young stopper, it fell to McCallum who made no mistake to put the visitors in front, a goal that was coming.

Dagenham were doing a superb job in keeping Petrasso quiet and Ephron Mason-Clark frustrated, neither finding joy on the wing nor swopping sides and Courtney Baker-Richardson then starved of any service.

The Bees best chance of the half came in stoppage time when Mason-Clark was fouled on the edge of the penalty area, but Alexander McQueen’s free kick was straight into the wall and the subsequent rebound volleyed well over the bar.

The second half followed the same pattern, Dagenham controlling the game and Barnet chasing shadows around the pitch. Parkes was called into action just after the re-start with a super save from Vilhete to stop the ex-Barnet player from increasing the scoreline.

However, the visitors did double their money ten minutes into the half, Matt Robinson with a fine top corner finish well out of the reach of Parkes. Three minutes later Parkes had to save again this time from Will Wright as the home side struggled to cope with the relentless pressure coming in waves from the Daggers attack.

Bassey’s double change of Tomi Adeloye and Antonis Vasiliou with around twenty minutes to play to try and force a goal from somewhere almost paid dividends a few minutes later but Vasiliou shot over the bar from the best effort of the half from Barnet.

With the visitors dominant throughout and the Bees huffing and puffing but not producing anything the points headed back to East London to leave Bees fans reflecting on a performance which was very much removed from the previous five.

Barnet certainly missed the energy of Skeffington in midfield and as mentioned really struggled to get anything going at the top end of the pitch, Dagenham were far superior across the pitch and Elliot Justham had not a single save to make which throws back to shades of performances under previous managers.

Whether it’s a lot of games and a squad stretched thin with injuries coupled with a refusal it seems from the club to take any more players off furlough Bassey will have to make do again with a trip to Weymouth on Bank Holiday Monday unless any of his walking wounded will have recovered in time.

It does again raise the question of consistency, the one thing needed to win this league and Bassey will learn more from these performances than wins or draws.

Superb game from Matt Preston at the back, not much at all if anything missed his head but not very many got going at all in any part of the game besides the skipper, quick turnaround now and trip to the coast on Monday, only seven more left to suffer now………

Bassey tastes defeat for the first time

It’s a strange feeling going into games now not expecting Barnet to come away with a four or five goal thumping such has been the progress in just a few games under the stewardship of Simon Bassey and Dave Anderson.

A trip to Gander Green Lane to face a Sutton Utd side who were seen as champions-elect only a few weeks ago with a mammoth number of games in hand was seen as a very big test of how far this side had become despite the fact the hosts hadn’t been in the best of form recently.

Bassey made one change to Saturday’s victorious eleven, Ben Richards-Everton back in at centre half at the expense of skipper Liam Daly possibly to counter the pace threat of former Worthing winger David Ajiboye should Sam Beard need the cover.

As expected the hosts started the brighter, the need for the three points probably emphasised emphatically by Sutton boss Matt Grey to his players to keep up their title challenge, but despite a lot of early possession and pressure they didn’t test Bees keeper Aymen Azaze.

The game looked very similar to last Tuesday, hosts make all the running whilst Barnet looked to soak up the pressure and break on the counter in order to get something from the game. An early booking for Themis Kefalas didn’t give the youngster much scope for error for the remaining 81 minutes but sensible play from the QPR loanee ensured the Bees kept a full compliment on the pitch for the fifth game running.

Ephron Mason-Clark was at the centre of anything likely to happen for Barnet and indeed had the first Bees effort of the night after 14 minutes, but saw his shot blocked by the Sutton defence.

Neither side were making the most of their set pieces, Barnet defending well once again whilst Alex McQueen’s delivery into the opposing box lacked quality throughout the game.

The game for the Bees became a little irrelevant in first half stoppage time as Azaze raced out from his goal only to be clipped in the face as he denied the on-rushing Sutton forward, the young Belgian goalkeeper stretched off as 16 year old James Callan came on for his first team debut, news on Azaze still awaited at the time of writing although believed to be a fractured eye socket and cheekbone.

After going into the break level, the home side knew they needed to up the ante in the second half especially with a young untested goalkeeper and started the same way as the first half, Callan called into early action but comfortably claiming the ball from a Sutton head following a corner.

Moments later Callan was in the action again saving from Harry Beautyman whilst the Bees Lee Vaughan managed to get Courtney Baker-Richardson in behind the U’s defence, but the striker was unable to keep the ball goal bound after rounding the keeper.

The game was broken up a little over the following ten minutes, a raft of bookings as the game started to drift a little until a golden chance for substitute Tomi Adeloye on 67 minutes saw the striker unable to toe poke the ball past Sutton keeper Dean Bouzanis.

Two minutes later the home side finally had their goal, corner in from their right hand side was pushed out well by Callan only for the ball to fall at the feet of striker Omar Bugiel and the former Worthing front man lashed the ball into the roof of the net.

Whilst the goal knocked a bit of stuffing out of the Bees, there was still time to grab an equaliser and with Michael Petrasso on for the industrious Sam Skeffington there was every chance for Barnet to create something but the home side defended well to stop the Bees getting the ball down the flanks and into the box.

Little goalmouth action followed in the remaining ten minutes and Bassey tasted defeat for the first time since arriving at The Hive, but no disgrace in losing to a good Sutton side who have been in the title race for the best part of the season.

Plenty of positives last night, Matt Preston looking stronger game by game after returning from injury, Beard not allowing Ajiboye much of a kick all evening, the energy of Skeffington across midfield whilst Callan at such a young age coped well with anything that came his way.

Best wishes to Aymen Azaze and now it remains to be seen before the weekend which route the club go down, Scott Loach to return from furlough, Callan to continue until Azaze is fit with no sub keeper or an emergency loan from the EFL or NLS, the former I believe out of the question so it’s between the other two options in my opinion, long term Barnet’s goalkeeping department looks in good hands……..

Bees snatch it at the death

Blogging becomes a little easier when your team is winning, or even stringing along an unbeaten run, but every game is a new test which is certainly a better way of looking at it rather than a Barnet thumping every week.

Whilst there is very little football going on that you can watch at a ground and while it’s nice to blog about your favourite team I can’t wait to get things more diverse which is what this is all about.

The Bees headed north to Altrincham on a three match unbeaten run, the longest they have enjoyed this season in the National League and showing a very different side to their play under Simon Bassey. The home side hadn’t scored in three matches and on paper looked to be a slightly more even clash than you would have anticipated.

I was quite impressed with the Robins when they visited The Hive earlier in the season, the side were flying high in the table but found themselves in the mid to lower reaches of the table as the Bees arrived.

Bassey made one change to the starting line-up, Courtney Baker-Richardson back in after suspension at the expense of the unfortunate Tomi Adeloye whilst Michael Petrasso made a welcome return to the bench.

As per the last few games Barnet started the opening minutes in bright fashion, but unlike the previous three games they conceded early and almost looked to be like back to the days of old. Despite an attack breaking down, the Robins recycled the ball across the box and when the ball fell to Ryan Colclough he sent the ball fizzing past Aymen Azaze with just four minutes on the clock.

Having not gone behind in the last three outings it was a little bit of new territory with things having gone to plan so far. The play after the goal was sluggish and Barnet failed to retain the ball when they did dispossess Altrincham, passes going astray and unlike what we’ve seen since Bassey arrived.

It got worse on 15 minutes, Azaze pushing out a free kick to his right only for the Robins to return it into the danger area and Alistair Smith heading past the Bees keeper to put the home side firmly in control.

The Bees still couldn’t get going in as the hosts didn’t need to push the game forward comfortable with a two goal lead. Harry Taylor was close to dispossessing the hosts keeper after not clearing his lines but Ephron Mason-Clark couldn’t finish off Alex McQueen’s cross as a result.

The hosts looked to be finishing the half strong as Azaze tipped a shot round the post whilst Dan Mooney shot wide when well placed, but the Bees managed to find a way back into the game in first half stoppage time.

Mason-Clark’s long clearance from just outside his own box saw a Robins defender and keeper Tony Thompson fail to communicate, the ball headed over the on-rushing custodian and Courtney Baker-Richardson was on hand to put the ball into the empty net and the visitors back into the game.

A change at half time saw Sam Skeffington off with injury replaced by Petrasso, Skeffington I felt did struggle to get hold of the game while the change brought McQueen back into the middle of midfield.

The change of formation did look as if it was going to pay dividends in the second half, the next goal in the game was going to be crucial. The Bees had their fair share of set pieces but unable to find the head of a fellow player in black and amber.

They came close just after the hour mark when Mason-Clark’s deflected shot forced Thompson into a smart save whilst Baker-Richardson and McQueen couldn’t quite hit the target soon after.

The final twenty minutes saw the game open up as the Bees gambled on getting the equaliser whilst the Robins wanted to put the game to bed, Barnet adding Adeloye up front at the expense of Themis Kefalas to go 4-4-2 for the final seven minutes.

Four minutes after the change the Bees were level, a loose ball picked up by Mason-Clark saw the winger stride into the box and slot the ball past Thompson for the equaliser.

Barnet however weren’t done there as they sent on central defender Ben Richards-Everton for Baker-Richardson, extra height as they pushed for the winner and just a minute later they had it.

The hosts couldn’t clear the ball from around their own penalty area and a cross from Mason-Clark found Adeloye in the six yard box who poked the ball past Thompson for his second goal from the bench on successive Saturday’s.

The Bees negotiated stoppage time without too much drama and when a final cross into the box was plucked out the air by Azaze, the game was done for the hosts.

So four games unbeaten for Bassey and Dave Anderson although the result looked very unlikely from the first 15 minutes and most of the first half. I thought the change at half time despite Bassey saying it was down to injury actually balanced us a lot better as while Mason-Clark was again a nuisance down the left wing McQueen looked lost on the other flank, neither attacking well nor giving Lee Vaughan much protection.

The second half performance looked a lot more like what we saw over the past three games although the first half showed the lack of consistency that we’ve seen so often over the course of the season.

This unbeaten run is the best so far in the National League for Barnet this season although it hasn’t been hard to achieve that, a very stern test awaits at Sutton Utd on Tuesday evening, another side going through a dip in form and whilst four or five weeks ago they would have been expecting an easy three points.

One last thing to reflect on, Bassey’s won more games already than Tim Flowers managed in around three months whilst also equalising the amount of league wins Peter Beadle achieved in his time in charge, it’s either not rocket science or there are some managers out of their depth or lacking in playing style to suit what they have, I’ll leave you to make your mind up on that one………

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……….