Bees give fans something to cheer

Image courtesy of @BenFullyLove

For the first time since March 2020 the chance to watch Barnet FC live and in the flesh was waiting. Granted I could have been there in December to watch on a Tuesday night but the club’s reluctance to allow general sale tickets until too late meant I had made other plans and stuck to them.

Whilst this was yet another dead rubber within this strange, weird and sometimes dull season this was all about the fans. People excited at a piece of normality returning and for me meeting up with some of the people I’ve grown to know via social media over the past 14 months (if I missed any of you last night I’ll be there again on Saturday, please come and say hello) and also those who I already knew but haven’t seen for months.

One change for Simon Bassey saw Antony Wordsworth back into the midfield after his four match ban with Michael Petrasso dropping to the bench, meaning five substitutes for the first time in a while.

The first half as might be expected was a very cagey non-descript affair, Maidenhead happy to soak up anything coming their way whilst Barnet eager to try and engineer something in front of the home fans.

The Bees should have had the lead after 18 minutes, Themis Kefalas with a free header sent the wrong side of the post when he should have scored. Ephron Mason-Clark had a couple of efforts blocked by the visitors defence and Adam Parkes was only called into action once to save from the Magpies front men, chances very much at a premium for both sides as they went in goal-less at the break.

The Bees noticeably turned up the tempo in the second half, Bassey wanting more from his troops and they were rewarded just before the hour mark when Harry Taylor found the net for the first time in 151 appearances in black and amber, striking home from inside the area across Magpies keeper James Holden to give the Bees the lead.

The other side of the hour mark saw the Bees increase their lead, Wordsworth slid in delightfully by the hard working Tomi Adeloye and finished with aplomb by the returning midfielder for a 2-0 lead and the points seemingly staying at The Hive.

The game should have been fully wrapped up in the final five minutes, Canadian Michael Petrasso on as a substitute for Wordsworth headed wide from just a few yards out when easier to score which really would have put the icing on the cake in front of the 562 home supporters, but the Bees saw out the game comfortably and await the visit of champions Sutton Utd at the weekend.

Despite Kings Lynn’s point against Solihull at the same time, Barnet can still climb off the bottom at the weekend, but a five goal swing is needed between themselves and The Linnets to make it happen.

An interesting stat that came to light after the game on Tuesday before Bassey arrived with Dave Anderson, Barnet had 13 points from 28 games and four clean sheets, since their arrival 15 points from 12 games and four clean sheets, that is not to be under-estimated the work the pair along with Gary Anderson have put in to such a short space of time with only two additions to the existing squad.

It’s also only the second time this season the Bees have failed to let a side score in both games against them, Weymouth being the other along with the Magpies.

Some superb performances came out of this game and the first to pick out is Ben Nugent. It’s very fair to say the centre-half has put in some of the worst performances seen in a Barnet shirt in recent memory, but he dealt brilliantly with everything, my only gripe is a left footed centre half on the right side of the two means a constant switch to his good foot, narrows the pitch down but credit to him for putting in that shift last night.

His centre half partner Ben Richards-Everton didn’t lose a header and will be a big player for us at both ends of the pitch next season, Lee Vaughan was constantly in good positions in either half of the pitch always providing an outlet.

Great to see Taylor finally get on the scoresheet, a long time coming but a strike worthy of his brother Jack’s right boot whilst Adeloye worked tirelessly up front with maybe not the best of service coming his way.

Man of the match was definitely Sam Skeffington, his energy, tackling, passing, constant probing is one that needs to be in black and amber next season it’s something that has lacked all year until his arrival in midfield and drives the team on week after week.

And as if like buses we get another game to watch this coming weekend as the champions roll into town at The Hive for a lunchtime Saturday kick off. A great season for Sutton Utd was crowned last weekend and this will be another good test for the home side despite nothing but pride riding on the game.

For me, a chance to see a couple of former Worthing FC players in Omar Bugiel and David Ajiboye in action once again and with some of my PNLP podcast boys joining me should be in for a decent day once again, whatever happens though, it’s great to be back…………

Bees put dent in Torquay’s title hopes

For the final time this season on Saturday afternoon I was sitting in front of a Barnet stream and I sincerely hope it’s the last I’m ever having to do that! A trip to title chasing Torquay in the final away game of the season wouldn’t have been the first choice of one of the last three games before the wasted season finally finished.

After two previous performances of huff and puff but no results, Simon Bassey changed things up again with Themis Kefalas back in the starting line-up with Courtney Baker-Richardson and Alex McQueen missing out completely whilst there was a surprise amongst the four named substitutes Josh Walker appearing for the first time this season.

With both sides playing in front of fans for the first time since December, and the home side needing to avoid defeat to keep their title hopes alive it was a surprise that the Bees started the better of the two sides, the Gulls looking extremely nervy from the kick off.

Tomi Adeloye was close to giving the Bees an early lead as Torquay started to grow into the game, Jake Andrews sending a free kick just wide of the post, then Adeloye setting up Michael Petrasso but the Canadian’s shot was deflected wide for a corner.

As it was the home side took the lead against the run of play on 13 minutes, Andrews settling the nerves slightly with a smart finish cutting in from the left hand side. Kefalas thought he had the equaliser just four minutes later only to see his header cleared off the line, moments before Adeloye had a sight of goal before a timely intervention.

Somehow the Gulls were two goals to the good after 23 minutes, Connor Lemonheigh-Evans benefitting from Ben Nugent beaten by a diagonal ball to round Adam Parkes leaving Barnet wondering why they were two goals behind and not in front. Not that this goal settled the nerves for the home side, they still looked capable of allowing Barnet back into the game.

Adeloye should have won himself a penalty after having his shirt tugged in the box, missed by both the referee and the short-sighted commentators who struggled with everything Barnet all afternoon. Kefalas should have halved the deficit just after the half hour sending a free header wide of the target.

The Bees didn’t have to wait long for their way back into the game, on 37 minutes Harry Taylor was needlessly fouled in the area and Petrasso stepped up to put the ball past ex-Worthing stopper Luca Covolan to reduce the arrears.

A superb save from Parkes kept the deficit at one on the stroke of half time, the home side going into the break in front but far from convincing.

Barnet again started strong and were level ten minutes into the half. A foul on Petrasso led to Sam Skeffington putting a free kick onto the head of Kefalas and this time the Greek youngster and made no mistake and the Bees had parity once again.

Both sides then opened up the game, Andrews putting a free kick the wrong side of Parkes’ post whilst Petrasso forced Covolan into a reflex save and chances continued to be traded, Taylor denied by Covolan whilst the Gulls missed a great chance at the far post which only needed a touch to end up in the back of the net.

The Bees did have to withstand a huge amount pressure in the final ten minutes but the home side couldn’t find a way through and in stoppage time the Bees had at least two very good chances to win the game but poor decision making in the final third meant the spoils were shared, Sutton Utd with the chance to win the title on Sunday afternoon before they visit The Hive on the final day next weekend.

This was probably the best performance of the season, some outstanding contributions along the way from Skeffington whose set pieces were a mark-up on McQueen, Ben Richards-Everton solid at the back whilst Kefalas deserved his goal and more, Petrasso, Mason-Clark and Beard providing good contributions.

Can’t let it pass without mentioning the commentators, now I appreciate they’re the home club etc, but having watched 27 consecutive Barnet streams bar Kings Lynn away these two were horrendous. Mistaking 6ft Nugent for 5ft something Lee Vaughan when taking throw in’s is something else, Skeffington’s corners they thought were taken by Petrasso, not difficult chaps when these guys have their own number on the back of their shirt, maybe a little more professionalism wouldn’t go amiss.

Two to go, both at The Hive including the visit of champions elect Sutton Utd next Saturday, Maidenhead to come on Tuesday evening. Tickets for both already in the wallet, that long five hour round trip I am actually looking forward to and seeing a lot of people who have been strangers for a year or so or Twitter buddies, Tuesday night under lights bring it on……………………

Eames: You have to look at it and hold your hands up at times

Here is the second and final part of my interview with former Barnet FC Head Coach Rossi Eames and in this part he talks about his time in charge of the first team, what went wrong and what could have gone better:

TK: The year we got promoted back into League Two in 2015 you became Under 21 Development Coach; did you still have a lot of those players under your tutelage?

RE: Yes, we took about nine of the Under 18 age group who were too old to play at that level but also Jack Taylor and Matty Stevens playing well above their age groups. A smaller group meant we could push more into them to get them ready and Martin played a few of them that first year, Harry Taylor, Fumi Shomotun scored against Hartlepool and then when we trained Martin would send some down to me and then from the academy some would step up, it was a real togetherness.

The loan moves were very beneficial in helping their development, we sent Harry to Hampton & Richmond and he did really well there which got him his first team chance.

TK: Martin then goes to Eastleigh, was it something you saw coming?

RE: No, I didn’t see it coming at all, in fact he rang me that morning. I think we were nine unbeaten at the time and although as you said some fans weren’t happy at the style of football winning games is what everyone wants whether as a player, manager or supporter.

Martin is a champion, he won promotions. The things I learnt off him were unbelievable, the way he sets up teams to get results, some methods are mad but there are methods to madness, just done in a simplistic way.

Going back to that morning, he rang, said I’m off to Eastleigh and did ask if I wanted to go with him. The money would have been great, around three times more than I was on at the time (below 20K), but I did say I’d think about it.

Then Henry and I got a call from Tony Kleanthous to take the team for the time being and what a whirlwind first ten days. We were out of the FA Cup so had time to prepare but so much went on, there was certainly much more to the job than I envisioned.

Sam Togwell wanted to join Martin at Eastleigh and we had already planned on him playing right back at the weekend as we were short, Gavin Hoyte was out with injury, so we had to adapt and threw in Jack Taylor to that position and he did alright to be fair.

But it was very much a ‘smash n grab’ at Yeovil and on the coach on the way home I was shattered thinking is this going to be how it is every week, my god!

Some great pro’s in that team though, Michael Nelson, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Curtis Weston but the one I would love to have worked with and didn’t due to his injury was Michael Gash, such a shame he didn’t get his contract renewed.

TK: A reasonable spell in charge with Henry, what changed for that partnership to not work out?

RE: I did hear rumours that there was lots of infighting between us but that was never the case really. There was a game I missed when I was ill, Colchester I think it was and the chairman I think had been mulling things over after the Mansfield defeat and I went back to work after the Colchester game and Henry had gone.

The chairman already had Kevin Nugent lined up to come in, that deal was done and he travelled up to watch us at Morecambe. My regret from that time was I didn’t enjoy it; we were too focussed on keeping that run going to get into the play-offs.

TK: Can you clear up the rumours around that time of Kenny Jackett coming in after Nugent kept the seat warm almost.

RE: We heard the rumours as well but we never knew what the chairman was planning to do, we wanted the clarity as well after five wins, five losses and a couple of draws. But he kept his cards very close to his chest on that one so I don’t know either way.

TK: Kevin Nugent then has the job, one win in twelve and it appears to all fall apart, can you put your finger on why?

RE: I don’t quite know; the players were playing for him working hard in training but late goals we conceded meant momentum didn’t follow and I think that was a lot of it. He didn’t change a lot of things, of course he wanted to embed his ideas and philosophy, but it just didn’t go his way.

The biggest thing I think is the number of players there from Christmas to the end of the season. We signed a few, but not many left the club but keeping them all happy was a problem as it always is. It was unfortunate it didn’t work out and I had the last four games again that season.

TK: Tony then offers you the main job, head coach for the first team. Did you think been here long enough it’s deserved and the chance might not happen again so I’ve got to take it?

RE: Pretty much yeh, I felt it was one of those once in a lifetime opportunities and you have to take it, I’m sure if you asked any Barnet fan they would jump at the chance. I did ‘um’ and ‘ah’, thinking after the first spell is this me, you know.

TK: Did you also think looking at the squad and with the additions of Shaq, Craig Ross and later Dave Tarpey, I’ve got a play-off team here if not better?

RE: You look at the sum of the parts and you would think yes. You’ve got goals, you got defence and a good midfield, young players emerging but there were too many players in the building. I was told send me which ones you want to keep and I’ll move the others on, the latter didn’t really happen.

Some you miss out on too, James Alabi was in while I was away on holiday, then I get a call saying his medical wasn’t completed and the agent had walked out with him, gone. Others too, Marcus Bean, Hiram Boateng, and a couple of others I can’t remember. We did get Richard Brindley in through the door though, great right back.

Shaq initially didn’t hit the ground running but then scored against AFC Wimbledon in the Checkatrade Trophy and off he went. He’ll kick on again, he’s had a lot going on I know, but a great lad and I’m sure it will come good for him.

Tarps was done very late on deadline day. I had a call from his agent Lee Cook (the ex-Barnet winger) and I thought he was on his way to Coventry but seemed not so I said, ‘yeah I like him, proper goalscorer’. I spoke to the chairman who did the deal, agreed a fee, he came for his medical and we sent the paperwork at 10.59:45, 15 seconds to spare!

Confirmation didn’t arrive until we pulled up at Swindon on the Saturday lunchtime and we’d done our prep with Tarps up front with Shaq, that was close! So much was going on that night, Fuad Sale which didn’t get over the line nor Simeon Akinola to Lincoln.

Injuries though then began to cause a problem. Tarps only managed the game at Swindon, then Cambridge the following week and a challenge with Leon Legge saw him land awkwardly, his ACL goes seven minutes in and that’s it.

Going back to Luton first home game of the season we lose Elliott Johnson with an ACL as well, Harry Taylor off injured needing stitches, that’s both our wing backs. Brindley of course had his injury problem which meant we never saw him until the back end of the season.

The way we wanted to play that year with wingbacks meant it caused us a massive problem not having either of them available. John Akinde out from pre-season as well was a very big miss for us for a while, in hindsight did I bring him back too quickly? Yes I probably did. He wasn’t destined to play long at Carlisle but that wet pitch, his leg gave way and his hamstring went and put paid to the plan of him and Shaq together. We weren’t allowed loans at all and I do understand those reasons of not wanting to develop other club’s players, but some of that was down to the bloated squad size.

I can say now I did make mistakes, there are things I should have done better at the time in terms of players, players who weren’t playing or injured and in training but at the time you try and take a stance on it. There are always things going on behind the scenes that aren’t known about that you have to deal with, mentally I wasn’t in the right frame of mind myself.

I was going through quite a traumatic time away from the club, away from the game and it wasn’t pleasant. We drew at Yeovil and then got smashed at Colchester and at the time I felt that was it for me. I’d driven practically home to Bromley and then I get a text ‘come and see me in the office please’ so I had to drive all the way back to The Hive.

The chairman decided he wanted to change things up a bit, my head was pretty much gone anyway. With what was going on away from the game, the team not winning I was really struggling to see the wood from the trees so to speak. Was I out of my depth? Maybe I was, but I felt I had contributed a lot to the club.

Paul Tisdale said to me after the Exeter time of Jack Taylor, ‘that kid will win you and lose you games, but he’ll be your best player’. He’s done it himself with Ampadu and he who I won’t name who wins penalties now at Villa.

TK: In hindsight now looking back, would you have done anything differently like a change in formation against your beliefs or going to see Tony about what was going on away from the game?

RE: I spoke to him three or four weeks beforehand but no conversation was allowed, was dismissed straight away. But in hindsight yes, Dan (Sweeney) Alex (Nichols) and Ryan (Watson) should have been back in the team earlier. I trusted Jack (Taylor) and saw a future there. Fair play to Nelse (Michael Nelson) he said why don’t you play Dan at centre half, I should have done, he’s a good player, but there were other things like we needed to get on better.

You have to look at it and hold your hands up at times to making mistakes but there are some non-negotiables as a manager which you can’t go back upon which don’t happen on the pitch. I learnt so much from that time but it also took a long while for me to get back to me, it wasn’t how I wanted my nine years at the club to end.

TK: So then Mark McGhee comes in and you move to Head of Player Development?

RE: Well a title! Fair play to Mark he asked me a few times to come and work with him, but I was in such a dark, dark place is the best way to put it so the weekend after I took a few days away.

Gamedays I didn’t want to be around as it didn’t feel like it was me anymore and I needed to get away.

Most of the fans were brilliant throughout my time, I’ve no idea what actually happened after the Blackburn FA Cup with someone and my dad, that was supposed to stay within the club but then got portrayed in a Q&A later on, that wasn’t right to me.

I basically went back to the Academy side of things to see what players were coming through I had lost sight of that. James Callen was Under 12 at the time and has now come into the first team squad.

I didn’t really have a job spec as such so I took the Under 18’s with Lee Johnson till the end of the season, Antonis Vasiliou was in there and reminded me a lot of Luke Gambin, we had Rio Connell, Dwight Pascal, Benji Aghadiuno, Martyn Box, had a good little group there again.

I stayed well away from the first team when Graham (Westley) came in and then of course Martin (Allen) came back.

So first day back I’m in early as I knew he would be, he asks me to come and work with him, so I was honest and said no, too much going on and not really enjoying being around The Hive. Martin said that’s fine, just do the weekend game for me against Crewe, sit behind the dug out and give me the feedback.

We won 1-0 I think (2-1 win), and that week he knew my heart wasn’t in it. He was great about it and I still went for meetings with him as he wanted to know about the youngsters coming in etc.

The final game against Chesterfield I made arrangements with him to leave five minutes before the end of the game just in case there was any backlash from the fans towards me so I made sure I was out of the situation.

Then I was given my notice, went away for the summer and then got a call to say we need to sort out you staying on, which confused me given the first part, but I’d already had an interview lined up at Manchester City, got told though the club would want compensation for me if I went despite the fact I was on notice.

I didn’t get the job however and then had a call from a mate at Chelsea, so I went there to coach the Under 8’s and do a bit of scouting for them.

I look back now and a lot of good memories replaced more by the ones from the end, but I appreciate the support I did get and the staff and players I worked with.

TK: Are you surprised to see the club where it is now or do you think it’s been a never ending spiral?

RE: No I’m not. I think it’s been going downwards since Martin left for Eastleigh. We went through four managers that season, then another four when we got relegated and now four is it this season? No consistency, that’s what you need to be successful and progressive. At the end of the day though it’s the chairman’s football club and his money and in theory he can do what he wants.

He does have some good ideas but you need to stick with them. I haven’t really taken too much notice of this season, a covid year for everyone and tough for every club without fans inside watching them.

Going back to Underhill times, the Tuesday nights under lights were fantastic. I can go back to Edgar’s (Davids) debut, the place was bouncing. Another one was when Martin first came back and we drew 2-2 with Chesterfield, that bounce again.

The business model for The Hive is correct, it just lacks that soul that Underhill had. Underhill was nostalgic and reminded me of growing up as a kid watching Chesham Utd, but with The Hive being so open it takes away a lot of the acoustics which doesn’t help, but it needs to become somewhere, find it’s place.

My thanks to Rossi for his time, there are a lot of stories on the audio but converting all of it into blog’s would have taken about four pieces instead of two so the fantastic Beespod will be hosting the full two hour audio over the next week or so.

Bees unable to break through Moors

A general view of the ground before the FA Women’s Super League match at The Hive, Barnet.

Tuesday night the 25 game streak of streaming Barnet games was over as I made my way to East Preston to actually watch a live game for the first time since mid-December.

Well, it was until a waterlogged pitch put paid to the Bees game at Solihull Moors and then hastily re-arranged for Wednesday evening with a 6pm ko which meant game 26 then!

Simon Bassey made two changes from Saturday’s defeat at Eastleigh with Michael Petrasso and Courtney Baker-Richardson coming into the team, Themis Kefalas missing out completely and Alex McQueen dropping down to the bench which for the second game running contained just four players, let’s not get started on around 15 furloughed players.

Lining up in a 4-4-2 formation meant more attacking intent and a more open game than some we’ve been used to this season. Both sides were attempting to play with the ball on the ground despite some blustery conditions, but pretty much only half chances were materialising for both teams.

The Bees were wasteful all game through with their set pieces and the usually reliable Lee Vaughan struggled to find his range when crossing into the box despite at least two targets to aim for.

An early booking for the Bees skipper left Vaughan walking a tightrope for just over 80 minutes of the game and at times the Moors stuck lively winger Alex Addai out to his side of the pitch to tempt the experienced full back into another bookable challenge but the full back wasn’t buying it.

Moors certainly had the best of the possession whilst as seems the norm Ephron Mason-Clark provided the best outlet for Barnet to get going with some strong and at times mazy runs but little end product into the box.

Two big chances arrived just before the half time whistle, one for either side. Addai’s strong run past Sam Beard saw his fierce shot cannon off the outside of Adam Parkes’ left hand post whilst at the other end Baker-Richardson looked clean through moments later only to be denied by keeper Ryan Boot, appeals for a penalty declined as the striker went down at the point of shooting, no replay though to see if it was the case and the sides went in goal-less at the break.

A similar sort of pattern was to follow for the second half, but Bassey’s half time talk was out the window within five minutes of the restart, James Ball firing home past Parkes to give the home side the lead.

Petrasso had a good chance just before the hour mark but didn’t wrap his foot round the ball enough and his effort sailed past the post. The same player was closest to finding an equaliser with 20 minutes to go, a header back across goal from Ben Richards-Everton found the Canadian but couldn’t make a good enough contact and the flag went up against him for offside.

The last nine minutes were a blur, or more a complete black out as for some bizarre reason Solihull decided the stream was going to finish at 7.45 for a 6pm kick off, but there we go, apparently I didn’t miss very much so they tweeted to me afterwards!

Slightly disappointing from a Bees point of view as I felt either side could have picked up the three points, game certainly lacked quality throughout and a very end of season dead rubber feel about it.

As Bassey said afterwards, you couldn’t fault the efforts of the players at all but another loss goes into the column. Richards-Everton put in one of his best performances so far, tempered by an off-colour Vaughan, the latter having been very consistent so far this season.

Mason-Clark once again was given license to be the player he is, to run and cause havoc but the service into both Baker-Richardson and Tomi Adeloye wasn’t at its best.

Onto Torquay this weekend for game 27 and hopefully the final one in front of a screen, tickets booked for both home games next week against Maidenhead and Sutton Utd, interesting to see the reaction towards the players and indeed the chairman for comments made earlier this year, no welcome back offer though, football without fans is what remember………….

Bees fail to down Spitfires

Image courtesy of Tommy McMillan (@weemack57)

Trips to Eastleigh are generally very good for Barnet, drama, goals, and wins go hand in hand but this was likely to be a much tougher test with the Spitfires still in with a chance of gate-crashing the play-off’s while the Bees were just playing for pride.

Sam Beard returned to the starting line-up for Simon Bassey’s men while Matt Preston missed out through injury meaning only four players were named on the bench with Liam Daly the latest player to be furloughed.

The opening minutes had a clear pattern of the hosts in possession of the ball while the Bees were set up to break on the counter with the pace of Tomi Adeloye and Ephron Mason-Clark, but the game plan went out of the window inside ten minutes as keeper Adam Parkes came for a ball he was never going to get and Tyrone Barnett was gifted an easy header into an open net.

Mason-Clark looked the most likely to get the Bees back into the game, but a lack of ball retention and then unable to win it back started to show although the hosts seemed happy to sit on their one goal lead.

Just after the half hour mark Joe Tomlinson stung the palms of Parkes who saved well, pushing the ball over the bar when the Spitfires man thought he had extended the lead for the home side.

The Bees though exerted some pressure on the Eastleigh defence as the half wore to a close, Adeloye having an effort cleared off the line just after Themis Kefalas was also close to levelling the scores but adjudged offside, to send the home side in front at the break.

The best spell of the game for Barnet came at the beginning of the second half, as the hosts invited the pressure, Mason-Clark testing Joe McDonnell whose save fell at the feet of Harry Taylor, quickly blocked by a home defender and away for a corner.

Adeloye was next to try his luck ten minutes into the half and again McDonnell was equal to his effort followed by another shot which didn’t find the target. The Bees had a penalty appeal turned down after the hour mark when Mason-Clark had weaved his way into the box and the shot from Ben Richards-Everton appeared to strike a hand.

Still the Bees pressed forward, Alex McQueen looping a header over the bar and Mason-Clark’s next effort almost turned into his own net by an Eastleigh defender.

Twenty minutes from time the game swung back in favour of the hosts, Adam Marriott getting beyond the visitors backline and brought down by Parkes in the area which earned the young keeper a yellow card, Tomlinson putting the penalty into the net comfortably.

Substitute Sam Smart notched a third for the Spitfires in the final ten minutes, a slight deflection off Beard as the ball went across Parkes and into the net to seal the points and another loss in the column for the Bees.

Four left to go now and like most fans it appears Bassey can’t wait for the season to get to its end, the lack of playing staff being allowed to pick from despite a squad of 36 players is becoming a joke. I appreciate there is little to play for but only being able to name four players on the bench is ridiculous given the number of players we have.

Solid from Beard on his return and the usual energy from Sam Skeffington in midfield, and as Bassey said in his post-match interview we could and should have had two or three goals, but not taking chances you don’t get anything from games. A big learning curve for Parkes from this one in his first loan spell in senior football, showing not all games are going to be in his favour good test of character to see how he responds on Tuesday evening, no time to dwell on this one.

Solihull on Tuesday night, the first one I’m missing since the turn of the year which amounts to 25 games in a row as I’m actually heading to watch some live football locally, something different to write about next week and as it’s a friendly nothing riding on it, but then you can say the same about Barnet’s season since February.

Loach: I’m not ready to give up playing yet

Here is part two of my interview with Barnet keeper Scott Loach on his new venture which kicks off on Wednesday night:

TK: Where will the school be actually based, just in Southwell?

SL: Yeah, based there but not exclusive to people just living in Southwell. I’ve got people from Newark, Chesterfield, Derby so it’s open to everyone. It’s on a Wednesday night and will be split into age categories, I’m not separating genders so we all work and learn together.

On the launch night there will be 18 keepers split into three groups of six and we will rotate every 15 minutes to do a different drill, to get a good feel of things, none of this waiting around to do something, that’s the young keepers.

I’ve got a young lad called Harry Chapman who is the youth team keeper at Chesterfield who’s going to be my right hand man, good for me and good experience for him too. He’s only 17, but his passport must say he’s much older, he’s massive, like Aymen a rare breed!

There’s Philipa Davies who’s at (Nottingham) Forest at the moment and she’ll pop along too, I think it’s good for both the boys and the girls to have people there to look up to and aspire to.

So there will the first group from 5pm-6pm up to age 10, then 6.15-7.15 up to age 13 and finally 7.30-8.30 the older ones around 15-16 year olds who you can really put through their paces.

I’m lucky to have a lot of contacts within the game so Steve Cherry who used to play for Derby and Notts County I’m friends with his son and others so I’m aiming to get a guest down every four or five weeks as well just to bring a different voice in really and also different styles.

TK: You’ve got 34 keepers ready to go so far, what’s the maximum you can accommodate?

SL: At the moment it’s 36 so I can aim to split into three groups of 12 at each level. The youngers ones it’s not so bad, but the middle ones I’m more keen on as they’re just starting secondary school so you want to keep their focus.

If the numbers increase then we would add another night, not for being greedy but for their development, you don’t want to be making a save then having to wait ten turns to make another save.

Eventually it’ll be one drill, then swop between Harry and I, if you have too many then it becomes harder to keep them interested.

TK: You mentioned the youngest keepers are six years old, what age groups are you going up to?

SL: Honestly, I’ll go up to adults that’s not a problem, it would just mean a separate night because you wouldn’t want to move the kids sessions around to put the eleven year olds with the fifteen year olds.

I wouldn’t write anyone off, write any gender off, even if a four year old wanted to give it a go I’d obviously have a look at them and be honest with the parents if they’re not quite ready yet, but I think anyone over the age of 16 would need and want more from a session so I would look to do a different night with them.

TK: Is this the full time aim for you once you decide to hang up the gloves and stop the goals going in?

SL: Erm, kind of! My ideal scenario would be like Rhys and Darren were doing at Barnet, into a club two or three days a week daytime and then my coaching school in the evening for two or three nights.

Of course I’m talking at the lower levels though and if you work your way up the ladder it becomes full time the higher you go obviously. But, definitely looking at least two nights a week for me and something part time, but I’m not ready to give up playing yet.

One thing I have loved this year is working with Aymen (Azaze) and James (Callen) where younger keepers are of the age still wanting to learn but I wouldn’t rule out working with first team experienced keepers, I’m open to everything.

TK: Final one, what can young keepers expect to learn from Scott Loach?

SL: I am massive on not teaching a kid how to catch the ball, that’s not goalkeeping. I think I’ve said to you before my style is different to Aymen’s, to James, so with the aim to keep the ball out of the net, my teaching is footwork.

Not your Eddison footwork where you take a back pass, Cruyff it and ping it out to the fullback, but speed across the goal. The quicker you get into line the more shots you save and how you keep it out is up to you. If you watched De Gea at the weekend, shots hitting him everywhere, unorthodox but effective and that’s huge for me.

I can show them how much distance they can cover in and around the goal, that’s my main objective besides keeping that ball from crossing the white line.

My thanks to Scott for his time, Scott Loach GK Coaching School launches on Wednesday 12th May at Southwell City FC at 6pm.

For more details check out Scott on social media:

Instagram: scottloachgk

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:

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