Another Tuesday night and yet more midweek football, another game that I previously couldn’t make on it’s original date so rude not to take up the offer this time around.
The Hive and Barnet FC was the destination with Gareth Spinks for a local derby with Boreham Wood, the 4th meeting between the two sides this year, Wood on top in both cup games and 0-0 draw back in the New Year.
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With so much Tuesday night football all season there has been plenty of choice of where to pitch up each week, whether that be locally, a bit of distance or somewhere I’ve wanted to go this season.
I think it’s fair to say alongside a few others Barnet were not doing a great job of enticing me to watch them over the last few weeks and I’m putting that down to events both on and off the pitch, one causing the other to no doubt in my mind make supporters feel the distance between themselves and the club is starting to make itself known once again.
I can’t complain however at the offers the club have put on so far this season, typically though it’s always been the weekend I have my kids but on a Tuesday night there’s no such obstacle and the offer of a fiver entry to see the Bees take on Kings Lynn saw me decide The Hive was my destination instead of a trip to Haywards Heath to see them take on Worthing, a chance to see what Tommy Widdrington and Hugo Langton have managed to do with the Linnets, the latter I know well from spells around Kent and Sussex.
Both sides were in need of a win, the Bees having had a stuttering two months not helped by off field distractions and are by no means safe from relegation whilst Lynn are beginning to run out of time to get the results needed for another season in non-league’s top flight.
After coming back from 2-0 down at Torquay last weekend, Dean Brennan named an unchanged side which I don’t think has happened on too many occasions this season, but it was the visitors who started the strongest and made all the early running with the Bees struggling to get out of their own half.
The Linnets could have been in front inside the opening ten minutes with Aston Oxborough forced into a diving save to prevent Josh Barrett from giving Lynn the lead. Barnet did respond with Ross Marshall’s flicked header unable to be forced over the line whilst Reece Grego-Cox got in behind a dithering Lynn defence but Paul Jones was equal to tip the striker’s effort over the bar.
Grego-Cox was inches away from connecting with an Ephron Mason-Clark cross into the box on the half hour after good work from the winger and Adam Marriott had fashioned the chance.
That though was about as good as it got for both sides in the first half, chances very limited and neither side extending the opposition goalkeeper too much, a lot of huff and puff but not much to shout about.
The way the Bees came out for the second half certainly suggested a few words were said at half time and the period of extended pressure should have brought about a goal. Just a couple of minutes in Teddy Howe was denied by a fine save from Jones followed by Mason-Clark’s shot deflected into the side netting after a mazy run.
Grego-Cox was then denied by the keeper a minute later and as the pressure increased Ben Richards-Everton low drive was destined for the bottom corner until Jones turned it round the post.
That said the Linnets absorbed the pressure and the scoreline stayed 0-0 although on the hour mark they should have been ahead. Barrett’s drive was palmed out by Oxborough and Cameron Hargreaves skied the ball over the bar when it should have nestled in the back of the net.
Brennan certainly went for the win the same as he did on Saturday with Rob Hall replacing Ryan De Havilland and Daniel Powell replacing Grego-Cox. Powell went close with 11 minutes to go, having rolled his defender he dragged his shot across goal with Mason-Clark unable to divert it past the keeper.
With the Bees again enjoying a good period of pressure, Mason-Clark’s skill saw him flick the ball over the defender’s shoulder and head towards the penalty area where Jones’ legs stopped the winger giving the home side the lead.
Howe again was put in a prime position from a Hall pass but chose to shoot instead of crossing and got his angles all wrong, the ball arrowing the wrong side of the post into the half dismantled terrace behind the goal.
The visitors had two glorious chances to snatch the points, Barrett’s effort clipping the top of the crossbar on it’s way over while Oxborough raced from his goal to make a fantastic save from Michael Clunan to keep the scores level as the game entered stoppage time.
There was one final moment to win it for Barnet, Hall driving into the box but putting his effort the wrong side of the post leaving the referee to blow up and the sides to share a 0-0 draw.
Despite it not ending how the home side would have wanted a second draw in a row and a clean sheet is a couple of positives given that recently anything other than a loss has been hard to come by.
The Bees were missing an entire back four and with at least three players playing out of position can we expect too much more? Both loan signings in Marshall and Grego-Cox look shrewd acquisitions, the former organising vocally as well as with his boots whilst the latter a willing runner with a little bit of quality.
Impressed with De Havilland in the middle of the park, set pieces were spot on the money bar one free kick in the first half and considering he’s really here for next season he showed some nice touches for someone who hasn’t played a lot of football at this level.
Good to see Giuliano Grazioli after the game, of course had a great Zoom chat with him during the first lockdown but since then we’ve managed to miss each other at games and also great to know Ben Strevens was also out watching, contrary to the Only Barnet forum his only other visit to The Hive was as boss of Eastleigh.
Nice surprise to see Kevin Mullen too, an ex-commercial manager of the club when I used to do a lot of sponsorship and hospitality during Underhill times, was really nice to catch up, that’s been a lot of years!
After the game I was able to spend some time in the office with Brennan, Dave Anderson and John Dreyer, who were already analysing the entire game just an hour or so after it finished.
I appreciate I am lucky to know a lot more than at times can be let out to every supporter through various sources and outlets and some of that I wouldn’t let on because there some things I can say and some has to be in confidence.
Both reminded me that since Xmas we’ve had a rough couple of months with two bouts of covid hitting the club followed by the racism allegations and a struggle with recruitment, it’s been too stop-start in their eyes and quite frustrating.
We have the clarity with Dean’s job title that I think was needed to be put right behind the scenes with lots going on there and those calling for him to go because the performances haven’t been spot on etc just refer a little to the paragraph above, that’s not to make an excuse but let’s put it this way.
The last two years our club foundations have been built on quicksand and they are the whole reason why we sit in 16th place in the table, changing manager’s again would be continuing that quicksand reputation.
When we get to the summer this year there won’t be 12 or 13 going through the door, it’ll be 5 or 6 in my opinion giving us a solid base to build upon, we haven’t see that for a while.
With a poor managerial appointment last summer this season has been all about surviving in this league and pretty much getting those foundations in place, the rest of this season won’t be pretty I can assure you and I tip my hat to those of you who follow week in week out.
We knew after seven games this season was a write off despite that brief moment where everything was going well and we hit form, those off field things that hit us derailed everything, if Chesterfield, Stockport, Boreham Wood continually missed players and got to our point of missing an entire back four would they still be grinding results out? You know that answer.
John Dreyer will be a good addition to what we have already, we actually have a backroom structure to the club and with a fresh pair of eyes and a different voice he knows he’s got work to do.
As Dean alluded to in the Beespod interview about recruitment starting in November, we are underway and not waiting for June like we have in previous years, it’s what we’ve been crying out for and why we won’t see a massive exodus come the end of May.
I don’t think we can underestimate that last week’s meeting between TK and Dean how huge that was, if DB wasn’t in the manager’s chair last Tuesday night when I spoke to him then we were looking at quicksand again.
Some of this might look like I’m blowing smoke up DB’s arse, but we can’t keep swopping and changing the management team and then expecting a miracle for nine months, give him the tools and then if he cocks it up it’s on his head!
You can see from the three new signings they’re an improvement on what we have, but more has to come and I’m confident it will.
Tuesday night and the fourth game in seven days for me, it started at the Dripping Pan and took in Lewes, Wroxham, Barnet and finally Barnet again but an away day at Southend Utd.
The original fixture planned for Tuesday following Xmas wouldn’t have seen me attending due to work so it would have been rude not to make a first trip to Roots Hall when able to.
Both sides came into the game at opposite ends of the form table, the Shrimpers beginning to find form under Kevin Maher and the Bees finding struggles of late under Dean Brennan.
Barnet were missing three key players, skipper Jamie Turley who was internally suspended as I was to find out just before kick off from revelations of the aftermath of Saturday’s defeat to Stockport, Harry Taylor was suspended and Sam Beard suffering from a bout of tonsilitis.
With the focus of the Bees players possibly elsewhere at kick off, Southend went for the kill from the off and were in front inside five minutes, Aston Oxborough pushing a shot out straight to the feet of Matthew Dennis and he made no mistake to give the home side the lead.
Barnet struggled to get to grips with the lively front man and he was only denied by a superb Jordan Thomas tackle from getting himself with a free run at Oxborough nine minutes later. The Bees did then settle down looking to get Rob Hall and Ephron Mason-Clark on the ball as much as possible to unsettle the Southend defence with their pace and direct running.
Just before the half hour mark Dennis had his and the Shrimpers second, Oxborough failing to hold onto the ball and the frontman took full advantage to extend the lead for the home side.
The two goal cushion only lasted five minutes, Mason-Clark played in Adam Marriott who fired hard into the bottom corner to reduce the deficit. The Bees could have been level two minutes later but Mason-Clark headed wide of Steve Arnold’s goal.
Five minutes before the break Barnet allowed Tom Clifford a free run up the pitch and his shot came back off Oxborough’s left hand post and away to safety, but the home side in front at the interval.
Barnet were certainly the brighter side for the first fifteen second half minutes applying a good amount of pressure but lacked the penetration to level the scores. From that point on Southend dictated the play without too much threat to Oxborough’s goal and while Barnet stayed within touching distance of the game Arnold had a relatively comfortable second half, the Shrimpers taking the points to move to seven games unbeaten leaving Brennan proud of his side’s efforts but with nothing to show for them.
The game was certainly overshadowed by events off the pitch with much talk in the away end over what had happened since the Stockport match at the weekend, a few at the end chose to vent their frustrations and a lot of anger aimed at various individuals throughout.
Hopefully by the time the Bees take to the field at Aldershot this coming weekend some things will have been resolved and we get back to concentrating on football, the form needs to improve as it’s really tailed off with no win in six league games.
Better performance from Teddy Howe standing in at left back and Jordan Thomas made a difference recalled to the right back berth, stand out player for me was Sam Woods, winning headers and tackles where he’s supposed to and Wes Fonguck had his best game for a while before running out of steam.
Seven points were really needed out of the next four games including this one, a tall order maybe but we don’t need another relegation fight.
I think I can probably count on two hands the amount of times I’ve watched two live games in two days. Life generally dictates otherwise which is fair enough, that can’t be helped.
Having taken in Wroxham vs Norwich Utd in El Broadico on Friday evening I was hoping for Kings Lynn to be at home on the Saturday and a catch up with Hugo Langton who is assisting Tommy Widdrington at The Walks.
But an away day for them at Boreham Wood meant I decided on a trip to The Hive for Barnet and Stockport County instead on the way back home, a nice cross country route to get there instead of endless motorways.
Having watched County cruise past Dagenham last weekend on BT Sport, there wasn’t anything to suggest Barnet would fair any better so keeping the score down and respectable was the most Bees fans were expecting.
With Dean Brennan fielding arguably his strongest side with Jordan Thomas and Kian Flanagan on the bench the only two likely to be included, there was a debut for new right back Teddy Howe.
The intention from Stockport was there right from the kick off, press high and constantly and not give the home side any time to settle, the pace of Paddy Madden and harassing of Scott Quigley forced Reiss Greenidge to concede an early free kick and picked up a booking in the process after only five minutes.
With Barnet struggling to get any momentum going forward it was looking to be a matter of time that County would take the lead, targeting the new full back Howe with balls around and over the top of him.
Both Liam Hogan and Madden put shots just wide of the post before a free kick clipped the top of the crossbar on it’s way over just past the half hour mark. The Bees were still struggling to get anything going and Aston Oxborough was called into action seven minutes before the break tipping Ryan Croasdale’s effort onto the bar, not the first time the County midfield and front line had broken through the Bees back line, this coming from a sliced Oxborough clearance which saw the young stopper redeem himself.
Just as it appeared Barnet would head into the interval on level terms, a silly freekick was given away outside the box and was headed back across goal for Will Collar to nod home unmarked from two yards out in first half stoppage time, in all honesty that should have been the second or third goal for the visitors.
A second goal did come for County nine minutes into the second half, Ryan Johnson outmuscling the Barnet defence to head home from a Ryan Rydel corner much to the delight of the travelling fans behind Oxborough’s goal.
Twelve minutes later Hogan headed home unmarked from another corner to seal the points leaving Bees fans frustrated having conceded all three goals from set plays.
Barnet’s inability to test the County backline meant they waited until the 88th minute for a shot on target, Ephron Mason-Clark’s stinging drive tipped round the post by Ben Hinchliffe.
With the Bees seemingly in the dressing room at the announcement of four added minutes, Stockport showed their ruthless side and score twice more through Connor Jennings and Johnson again to really rub salt into the wounds and cap a five star display from start to finish.
The gulf between the two sides was clearly evident before and during the match and as mentioned the intensity that County played with was far removed from anything Barnet tried.
I think we all expected an away win but not the capitulation at the end and the manner of the first three goals, re-starts, something the Bees had a massive problem with last year and it seems even with new personnel this year it’s no better.
As per almost every game we’ve played this year the lack of midfield legs is showing far too often, we don’t get close enough to the opposition to make them work harder. There is a huge lack of goalscoring threat as well, and it’s not just down to this particular game either, it’s becoming a bit baffling as to why neither Adam Marriott nor Mason Bloomfield are selected to start games when that’s their bread and butter.
The post-match interview from Brennan certainly attracted a few comments, not quite the solid debut from Howe that he alluded to, let’s hope that one was put down to nerves and there is a player in there.
Three huge games coming up in Southend and Aldershot away plus Wealdstone at home by mid-Feb and Notts County somewhere in the middle, seven points must be the minimum from these four games, that relegation zone is becoming closer than mid-table safety……..
Saturday featured my third Barnet awayday of the season compared to one visit to The Hive this season. Wealdstone away was one on the calendar for a few Bees fans, for the home side they had been waiting for this one for a long time.
As stated in my preview on Friday evening there is a lot of bad blood between the clubs and managers, but it was three points on offer during the afternoon, no more or no less and of course early season bragging rights.
Both sides went into the game at opposite ends of the form table, Barnet under Dean Brennan one defeat in seven whilst Stuart Maynard had presided over one win in seven.
A record attendance for the Stones on the afternoon of 2662 including what must have been close to the 800 allocated for Barnet fans in the away end, saw more than a few comments about the state and size of the ground.
Barnet comfortably settled the quicker on the decent playing surface and with Aston Oxborough in command of his box early on the Bees fans expected much but as with most local derbies plenty of passion and commitment but very little showing in the end product.
Adam Marriott had a good chance to open the scoring on 16 minutes, forcing Stones keeper George Wickens into a fine save. The dual wing combo of Rob Hall and Ephron Mason-Clark was looking to be the route into the game for the Bees, but resolute Stones defending sent away any dangerous ball into the box.
Mason-Clark thought he had given the Bees the lead just before the half hour mark after rounding Wickens but the ball skewed off the outside of the post to keep the scores level.
Despite the Bees again enjoying more of the possession and getting balls into the box, neither side did enough in the first half and the scores were level at half time.
Both sides traded chances early in the second half but neither managing to cause either keeper too much trouble and despite both managers making substitutions to try and get something going in the game it still looked to have 0-0 written all over it.
Wes Fonguck looked bright when he came on for Hall and did look as if he might spark something in the final third for the Bees, certainly more urgency was injected.
Sam Beard’s fierce effort on 74 minutes was deflected away when looking likely to give the visitors the lead and as the game looked like it was drifting away towards the 0-0 draw, the inevitable happened.
As Oxborough came racing out from his goal and clashed with Beard, Rhys Browne nipped in on the loose ball and gave the home side a priceless lead with 12 minutes to play.
The visitors did start to play with a bit more intensity needing to find an equaliser and thought they had it with a minute to play. A goalmouth scramble saw the ball end up in the back of the net but the referee with a view from a few yards away sought the advice of his assistant some 15 yards the other way and promptly ruled the goal out.
Jamie Turley and Mason-Clark had chances in stoppage time to rescue a point but the Stones held out and picked up a valuable three points to lord it over their visitors until the return at The Hive.
I wouldn’t say either side deserved to win, moments of quality were few and far between and with the winner coming from a defensive mix up it wasn’t a surprise.
The Bees should have really taken the game by the scruff of the neck in that first half but failure to be more clinical once again in the final third is becoming an achilles heel. For all the good work Mason-Clark does down the flank, the end product is lacking severely and work needs to be done to just get the ball in the box.
Good to see Turley finally on the pitch and no surprise he was blowing after about an hour, Sam Woods had his best game yet which is no surprise as his fitness levels are picking up.
Great to see a lot of new friends there and lots of others I’ve known for a long, long time as well, too many mention or I’ll be here all night!
Whilst criticising the officials might sound like sour grapes and up to you if you read it like that, the amount of blatant shirt pulling was beyond belief. It’s not the first time, seeing both Beard and Mason-Clark with ripped shirts after the Aldershot game suggests the National League should be picking up on this, but then we’re not likely to see the chairman at a game on a Saturday to point some fingers at what’s going on, too busy elsewhere for that……….
It’s not too often you get your non-league team on the TV, especially if they aren’t troubling the top end of the table, but the BT Sport contract with the National League means every team appears at least once during the season.
Last season’s miserable effort from Barnet came in January this year, a 3-0 thumping from local rivals Boreham Wood was one you’d rather forget as was pretty much the whole season, a minging effort.
This time around Aldershot were the visitors to The Hive on Halloween weekend, a side who had also dispensed with their starting manager in Danny Searle lasting a week less than Harry Kewell in charge of the Bees. Whilst Barnet had seen some improvement under Dean Brennan the Shots have yet to see their side move forwards under Mark Molesley, fresh from last season’s disaster at Southend Utd.
With both sides desperate for points, there was a tentative start to the game and it was the Shots who settled quickest, the Bees having changed starting personnel again due to suspension and injury, Jordan Thomas and Joe Widdowson replaced by Sam Beard and Harry Taylor moving across the back four to right back.
A flurry of attacking intent and corners failed to produce anything of note for the visitors which in turn gave the home side the confidence to play their game, getting Ephron Mason-Clark on the ball and running at the Shots defence.
The Bees took the lead just before the half hour mark, Adam Marriott recycled a cross back into the box and Kian Flanagan was on hand to score his first goal in Barnet colours.
The goal gave the impetus to the home side and appeared to deflate the Shots forward play, not helped by an injury to winger Gime Toure who was causing the Bees skipper Taylor a few problems at right back.
Flanagan was at the heart of almost every attack as Barnet tried to add to their opener, Marriott unable to hit the target with a header whilst the young Bees midfielder skipped through challenges at ease but unable to see his work finished off by the supporting cast.
The Bees thought they had doubled their lead a minute before half time, a deft cross into the box from Mitch Brundle was headed home by Mason-Clark only to be ruled out for offside, TV replays showing the Barnet winger was onside.
Despite the interval halting momentum the Bees opened the second half brightly, which saw Molesley make a change bringing on Mo Sylla for his debut and an almost instant impact.
Minutes before the hour mark, Lewis Kinsella swung a free kick into the box, two Barnet defenders didn’t deal with it and the ball dropped kindly for Sylla to arrow past Aston Oxborough for the equaliser.
The goal gave Aldershot the confidence to put the pressure onto the home side and they struggled to regain composure given the visitors hunger for more goals, the lead nearly coming for them four minutes after they had scored, Flanagan in the right place on the line to divert the ball away.
With the Bees forced into a change after injury to Ben Richards-Everton, Serhat Tasdemir was added to the amount of creative players on the pitch in black and amber, despite this the game entered into a scrappy period where neither side could keep the ball nor create much when in possession.
Just as the game looked to be heading towards a share of the spoils, Barnet won it with four minutes left on the clock. A Flanagan corner was headed out to the edge of the box where Rob Hall took a touch and lashed it back past debutant keeper Lawrie Walker, a strike worthy of winning any game and celebrations from the home supporters.
The visitors will feel they should have stolen a second equaliser before stoppage time, nervy moments in the Barnet penalty area saw Mikael Ndojli head agonisingly wide of the far post while Marriott had the chance to seal a comfortable win in added time but Mason-Clark’s final ball sent the striker a little wide and his effort sailed over the bar, but three points stayed at The Hive and back to back wins for Brennan’s side for the first time this season.
The win pushes Barnet up to 14th in the table and on a run of just one defeat in the last seven games whilst the Shots stay firmly in the relegation zone with only one win in their last six games.
Some excellent performances in black and amber, Flanagan put in his best showing so far in a Bees shirt and must have run close for Man of the Match by Beard, a whole hearted non-stop performance from the returning full back.
Brundle also had one of his better games and Mason-Clark a constant threat as the game went on, whilst the centre half pairing of Richards-Everton and Reiss Greenidge looked a tough one to break through.
A week without a game gives some of the injured time to recover and there will be speculation over the vacant managerial position with a lack of football to talk about. Brennan you can’t argue has put himself in firmly in the driving seat after the disastrous appointment of Harry Kewell, play-off form is what the Bees are currently in with points per game return and the end of October was a good yardstick to see where the club were at.
There may be a case of ‘not currently broken, nothing to fix,’ but at some point a decision has to be made as to whether someone else comes in somewhere in this structure or it get’s abandoned just months after its inception.
Have to commend the club in the offer they put out before the game to entice people into the ground, it’s what we have been crying out for and whilst the attendance wouldn’t have been what the club was hoping for, I hope it doesn’t stop them looking at ways to do it again, my only criticism of it was the timing of it coming out.
We’ve known for weeks the game the was on TV, Halloween weekend and bonfire night in some towns too, people make plans early and I suspect a lot of them were too late to alter.
But the club are listening to supporters which can only be positive after years of not and this fanbase won’t increase again overnight, keep it going in the right direction like it is on the pitch and keep communicating and at long last Barnet FC might actually be looking upwards……..