Bassey has Bees buzzing

I’ve said it a few times this season that seven days is long time in football and for a lot of clubs up and down the country the chance to actually spend a full week training instead of playing Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday has something of a rarity.

New Barnet First Team Coach Simon Bassey was afforded that honour this week giving him and Dave Anderson the chance to put some more ideas across to the players ahead of the visit from Aldershot Town to The Hive.

With the first clean sheet in months achieved last weekend at Maidenhead, the first foundation stone was laid and not surprisingly Bassey named an unchanged team, something again that hasn’t been forthcoming too often this season either, Ben Richards-Everton making his return from suspension for a place on the bench.

For the second week running Barnet started brightly, making a huge change from expecting to be a goal behind inside ten minutes which has set the tone for the season, the Bees even having the first chance of the game, JJ Hooper with the shot but one Mitch Walker in the Shots goal didn’t have to work too hard to gather.

Ephron Mason-Clark was finding a lot of joy down the left hand side and even had an effort pushed away by Walker on the half hour mark as the Bees looked the more likely to open the scoring.

As it was Barnet were in front two minutes later, Mason-Clark feeding the once again impressive Lee Vaughan whose delicious cross was perfectly placed onto the head of Hooper whose guided header was beyond Walker for his 8th goal of the season.

The lead however lasted just five minutes as Aymen Azaze came for a corner, looked to be fouled as the ball slipped from his grasp and into an unguarded net, one of the rare moments the Bees didn’t deal with a ball into the box. Rather than sit back or heads dropped, Barnet went on the attack forcing a flurry of corners but unable to find the head of skipper Liam Daly in the opposition penalty area leaving the sides to go in level at half time.

The second half was as open as the first, both sides looking to score and not settling for a point each. Bassey said after the game that the half time talk was about not sulking but to go out and prove a point, we certainly got the latter. Sam Skeffington was first to try his luck but way over the bar whilst the Shots tried to create down the flanks, but Vaughan and fellow full back Sam Beard were equal to the challenge, Beard given a good match up against Joel Nouble in the first half but the winger less creative through the second period.

The next goal was likely to be crucial especially when the Bees are used to conceding and then collapsing like a deck of cards, but not this time around. Mason-Clark who was a constant threat down that left flank all afternoon weaved his way into the penalty area and was brought down by George Fowler.

The winger then stepped up and calmy slotted the penalty past Walker to put the home side back in front, two goals at home for the first time since 16th February but still 20 minutes to play to hold out for a vital win.

The Shots brought on Ricky Miller to try and get an equaliser but with a lack of service into the front man and the Barnet defence managing to get themselves in front of everything despite the odd heart in mouth moment, the Bees looked to be seeing out the game in good time management style, a double substitution saw Tomi Adeloye and Richards-Everton replace the hardworking Hooper and tireless Harry Taylor with three minutes remaining.

With four minutes of added time to come, it was going to be a ‘backs to the wall’ effort to keep the three points, but in the fourth of those four minutes, Adeloye had other ideas as he ignored the cries from the home bench to head for the corner flag to weave his way past a couple of half challenges to be one on one with Walker and slotted past the keeper with consummate ease for his first goal in Bees colours and ensuring the three points were not leaving The Hive.

The win was Barnet’s first in two months, Tim Flowers only win in charge against Halifax after six attempts but something that took Bassey just two games. Now this doesn’t mean Barnet have finally cracked it nor does it mean the hard work stops but it has shown there are some performances in these players.

Daly and Matt Preston are starting to form a good understanding at the heart of the defence, Vaughan is Mr Consistency and the incoming Beard gives the balance on the opposite flank, more protection for Azaze is very much evident.

Mason-Clark has started to look more like the player who wants to take on full backs and deliver balls into the box, Hooper who I’ve said in the past isn’t quite doing what I’d expect a lone striker to do is also showing signs what’s being asked of him now is blossoming.

To blog on a win for the first time since February is a nice feeling, feel good has been few and far between for Bees fans since the season began and whilst it’s only two games into a new era, it does show some of these players if they deliver consistently over the next 10 games they might find a contract for next season, although the previous 30 odd games are still going to be taken into account no doubt.

On a weekend when there is talk of a European Super League and social media is awash with distain and disgust for the top level of the game, Saturday lunchtime was a little breath of fresh air, I might just revel in that a bit more, well until Tuesday evening when we go again……….

Bees battle hard for a point

A new dawn, a new era. We’ve been here before haven’t we? Well yes, quite often as it seems but it’s a prayer we’re all praying goes the distance this time as far as Barnet FC are concerned.

Simon Bassey and Dave Anderson are the 5th level of incumbents of the Bees dugout this season, shades of just a few years ago where we went through managers like a hot knife in butter and relegated from the Football League. This season would have suffered the same fate without the intervention of null and void for Step 2, a lucky escape not a deserved one.

The Bees headed to Maidenhead to face a side having a little wobble of form currently but under Alan Devonshire they have fully taken advantage of last season’s escape from the drop on PPG (points per game), the same method allowing Barnet into the play-offs.

Despite just a couple of days with the squad, Bassey opted for a couple of tweaks to the starting line up and the bench set up, debuts for on loan pair Sam Beard and Sam Skeffington while centre half Themis Kefalas lined up just in front of the back four but no place for Antonis Vasiliou who impressed on Easter Monday at Wealdstone.

Both sides started bright, intentions to knock the ball around confidently and Barnet which can’t be said too often this season looked a little more composed and job happy, players knowing what they should be doing.

Despite this though there were very few chances created by either side, the Bees with a flurry of early corners but to no avail and the hosts unable to pick a way through what is commonly a porous Bees defence.

The first real big chance of the game didn’t come until just after the half hour mark, Barnet switched off for the only time in the first period from a quick throw in, Danilo Orsi-Dadomo was through on goal but Aymen Azaze’s positioning was spot on to deny the on-rushing forward.

Neither side managed to create anything of note before half-time and the sides went in level, the Bees equal to everything the hosts tried to do and not often have the visitors this season been all square at the interval.

The second half was a bit more of a scrappier affair at times, Maidenhead did have the ball in the net on the hour but a header from Orsi-Dadomo was ruled out for offside. The visitors were containing the hosts as well as they did in the first half and whilst it looked as if one goal would win it if either side could score the Bees had a glorious opportunity three minutes from time, Ephron Mason-Clark’s perfect through ball set JJ Hooper away and whilst we believe he should have scored credit must be applied to the Magpies keeper Taye Ashby-Hammond for his positioning to deny the Bees an away win.

The hosts peppered the Bees goal for the remaining minutes of the game but as per the 88 minutes before the defence stood firm and resolute and the Bees picked up a point and a first clean sheet since December 5th.

A good start for Messrs Bassey and Anderson, a solid point and probably the best defensive performance for nearly four months. Solid debuts from Beard and Skeffington, the former competitive in the tackle and despite a first half booking then proceeded to defend sensibly unlike some ill-discipline we’ve seen this season.

The role that Kefalas undertook shouldn’t be under-estimated, good protection in an unfamiliar role whilst the confidence of Matt Preston and Liam Daly behind him managing to head or block almost all coming their way is a good foundation to begin upon.

Mason-Clark I think put more balls in the box or at least attempted more crosses than we’ve seen all season, there just needs to be more of a presence up front and I wouldn’t be surprised to see another loan or short term signing to come in with a view to next season, either from an under 23 side or the National League South.

With a full week of training to come before Aldershot visit The Hive more work will no doubt follow to improve on Saturday’s draw, the standard has been set from day one. Ben Richards-Everton will be available after his suspension and with a week and a half rest Antony Wordsworth and Courtney Baker-Richardson should have recovered from injury if not deemed too serious from Monday’s defeat.

Ah, it makes a nice change not to blog about a defeat but at least if we had lost yesterday it didn’t look like it was going to be a thumping and that’s something none of us have said for a long while……..

Football is nothing without fans

I wanted an early night on Tuesday but that went straight out the window soon after 10pm, why though you might ask? When you follow Barnet FC timing goes out of the window, more inadvertently in my opinion to bury a statement or an announcement, Edgar Davids aside the rest have not been too promising.

My phone hadn’t quite started to go off, I made a quick check as you do through Twitter and a new message from a fellow fan of a statement released by the club so off I went in search.

What I found was well, how do you describe it, amateur? A blame game? As a writer I found its wording was poor, offensive in places and then hidden within the context the news of a restructure of the coaching team, almost buried like it didn’t need talking about.

It was something the late great Dennis Signy OBE would be shaking his head at the very least, I don’t think this one would have made it out the door without a rewrite.

Let’s start with that statement then. An opinion is something I believe everyone is entitled to along with a healthy debate about those opinions. If things don’t go as planned then criticism is expected surely?

To openly attack the people you want to be viewing your product namely the football on the pitch I thought was a bad move.

I don’t understand why we were caught off guard? We completed the play-off game on 25th July, we waited until 12th August until mutually agreeing to part ways with Darren Currie and appointed Peter Beadle on 23rd August. Did it really take 18 days to work out Currie wasn’t to be the way forward? Was it not thought that giving Beadle such a short window would result in the fact the best players already were gone? There can’t have been many clubs where a full rebuild was needed as players were not going to accept lower terms but were given the smallest amount of time possible to make it work?

Blaming this season’s problems on Covid is poor, nearly all of the 23 clubs in the National League have suffered from covid outbreaks and others like ourselves more than once, but I’ve not seen any using it as an excuse that’s a diversion.

Managerial appointments that haven’t worked out are down to just one person, the chairman. They didn’t work out so why not just hold your hand up and admit that? We can all see that and would accept that; mistakes happen as part of human nature and last time I checked we’re all likely to be guilty of one or two in a lifetime.

The furloughing situation is bizarre, it’s being carried out by a lot of clubs within the league and is common knowledge whose players are not involved because of this. Some of us are aware which players we have placed on it, others we can guess at from not being seen for weeks. Some players seem quite happy for it to be known, so why do the club shroud it in some kind of mystery? I’d love to hear why Scott Loach, our one consistent performer all season who is now fit to play, is unlikely to pull on a Bees shirt again, is that really about different styles?

There’s a reason why people question the chairman’s passion for the club and I think it’s easy to see why. It’s not keyboard moaning nor twittering idiots, it goes back to that opinion we’re all allowed.

Both the men’s and ladies’ teams are sitting the relegation zone of their respective division, the club jumped the gun at the beginning of covid which smacked of panic instead of rational thinking and waiting a couple of days longer to see what transpired.

Other clubs looked to make sensible decisions, other clubs have less revenue streams than we enjoy at The Hive and forget the fact it’s been unoperational this year if it’s being run at a profit that should have seen us through this season comfortably surely? Other clubs have managed their way through this period with less income so why have we stripped back to the bare bones? A ‘gamble’ that’s paid off in the end but left us embarrassed and lacking in pride.

I don’t see a lot of people abusing the club’s name and if they do it’s out of frustration for what they see in front of them. We have a history prior to The Hive move, why can’t we be reminded of it from time to time? When times are tough people revert back to when things were good it’s their happy place, only today I referred back to 2004 and 2015 to someone, little in between those times to get excited about.

And as supporters we don’t expect glory every year, we’d support Manchester City for that! What we do want is pride in our club, pride from those who wear the shirt and to be appreciated putting time and effort into the club, these past twelve months has taught everyone at every level of the game that football is NOTHING without fans.

This is no disrespect to either of the club’s communication guys, Adam Rowe and Ciaran McLoughlin. These two put some hours in and it’s been one of the bright lights this season along with Aarron Pullen on the live streaming.

Anyway, onto the new appointments of Simon Bassey and Dave Anderson. A lot of people will be underwhelmed I’m sure that we’ve plucked another name that wasn’t in the reckoning or on supporter’s lips but there is a little more to it than this and something I believe is just the beginning with more to happen.

I’ve actually gotten to know Dave over the past few months, long before Tim Flowers was to be gone and is a well respected manager and figure within the non-league game, in fact the last game he managed saw him a Wembley winner in the FA Vase with Chertsey Town.

As I read it these two are here for the long haul but to see us through the final 13 games and this mess of a season out of the way ready for a manager or head coach to come in over the summer and join them.

As far as I am aware we should have a Director of Football in the shape of Jamie Fullerton although strangely no mention has been made in either announcement, a second statement having arrived this morning to introduce the new pair.

I could be miles off the mark but it makes sense to me especially as Bassey has been introduced as First Team Coach. Whether there is some restriction stopping the new manager coming in until then I’m unsure of but it would rule out quite a few names most of us believed were in the running in the last two weeks.

To finally have what looks like a little bit of stability and a structure to start to build upon is what we’ve been asking for all season and while better late than never, the building for next season described by the new man as starting yesterday.

I fear though a lot of damage has been caused by the wording of that late night statement and even if some pride is restored by the players before the end of May some bridges have now been firmly burnt to the point of not being retrieved I feel, if we get back into The Hive before the end of the season things might be a tad interesting.

Summer news and player recruitment is going to be key to keep what is left of the fanbase onside, only time will tell if people are willing to forgive and forget but for many that ship has now sailed…………