Chesterfield. Saturday afternoon at The Hive and the name of that team brings with it two memories quite recent. Going back to 2018, the great escape under Martin Allen was nearly completed with a 3-0 victory over the side who went down with us, results elsewhere determined that the Bees went down although before Allen’s arrival the club were so far adrift even the lifeboats wouldn’t touch us.
As per Barnet drama Allen then compiled the retained list for the Bees and them promptly signed a deal with the Spireites a few days later which ended in disaster and currently his last spell in football management.
More recently, it saw the end of the ill-fated spell of Peter Beadle as Barnet manager, shipping six goals at the Technique Stadium on a December afternoon was enough for Tony Kleanthous to hand the former striker his P45.
This weekend the turn of Paul Fairclough to continue the small resurgence that he has started to build upon in his first two games in charge. A decision to leave out replacement skipper Liam Daly was much debated on Twitter before the game, described by Fairclough as a ‘tactical’ decision in his post-match interview, some believing there is more to the situation that meets the eye. That meant Harry Taylor took the captain’s armband, three games, three different skippers!
Beyond that Barnet lined up as per midweek at Stockport, but from their own kick off they were the slowest out the blocks they had been all season. With 11 seconds on the clock, they should have been a goal behind, Adi Yussif blazing widely to the left of the goal.
That should have sparked a wake up call, but the Bees could and possibly should have been 3-0 down inside the first five minutes, giving the ball away in sloppy areas and not looking to be anything like the previous two games.
It was no surprise when the visitors did finally take the lead on 11 minutes, Tom Whelan coolly slotting past Aymen Azaze and the Bees deservedly behind.
James Rowe has certainly changed the club around having come in from Gloucester City and led a charge up the table for the Spireites even towards play-off contention and they had the measure of Fairclough’s Bees all across the pitch, no time on the ball nor the chance to create anything in the final third of the pitch.
With very little possession Barnet struggled to both contain the visitors and to create anything for themselves, Muhammadu Faal with a weak shot saved by Grant Smith the closest they came in the first half, a team talk some hoped would get the Bees on the front foot.
If that talk happened it stayed in the changing room as the Spireites put the game to bed just two minutes into the second half. A poor free kick given away was spilt by Azaze right in front of Yussif and the striker made no mistake. Harsh on the young keeper who once again was a steady pair of hands deputising for the injured Scott Loach, the impressive part being that mistake did not affect the rest of his performance one bit.
Despite a half time change of Antonis Vasiliou for Courtney Baker-Richardson and Faal pushing further forward neither the youngster nor the quiet Michael Petrasso saw enough of the ball to hurt the opposition defence.
Just before the hour mark with the Bees defending deeper, the visitors almost scored again striking the post having been carved open with ease. Azaze made a couple of timely interceptions as the game ticked on, the final chance of the game fell to Ephron Mason-Clark in the last minute, an overhead kick flying over the bar summed up the afternoon for the men in black and amber.
There was still enough time for Barnet to pick up a customary red card, Ben Richards-Everton sent off for a kick out on a visiting player in stoppage time and will miss next Saturday’s trip to Yeovil Town.
I do agree with Fairclough’s post-match assessment that Chesterfield are a good side, but then so were both our previous two opponents. There seemed to be a lack of a plan B to try to counter what the visitors produced although the slow start is now what I expect week on week, I’ve lost count the number of times we could have been behind in the first few minutes before we actually do concede, it’s never the other way round.
Previously I believed that this would be Fairclough’s third and final match in charge, with the Maidenhead game postponed midweek a clear 7 days until the Bees are next in actions but that could see a number of things happen.
A new manager could be appointed, more players could be heading to furlough, Fairclough I’ve believe has done his bit, after all it’s a dead rubber as far as it goes, players are playing for a new contract and pride.
It was interesting to note though also in that post match interview that the 71 year old also thinks he’s getting as much out of these players as he can, quality definitely isn’t there and that’s no disrespect to the players that take the field but some are not up to this level.
Just another week in the life of Barnet FC………