Running the rule over Kewell’s signings

As many regular readers will know Barnet FC had a torrid season last time out, torrid for its supporters and some thoughts along my lines of a gamble from the chairman which came off by the skin of his teeth, however you look at it it’s done and in the history books.

Exactly a year ago today as I write this I was heading to The Hive to watch the Bees in the play-offs albeit on TV’s surround by fellow Barnet fans, but my first viewing since mid-March of the black and amber.

An end of season clear out has made for a summer of signings under new head coach Harry Kewell and head of football Dean Brennan and with a lot more quality than we saw arrive under Peter Beadle. Last year we were found lacking, but it appears this time around there is to be no mistake from Tony Kleanthous with the club in need of a big re-build on and off the pitch.

Underneath and around the top two appointments it was vital to see some continuity in Gary Anderson, Dave Anderson and physio Ollie Galloway all re-signing for the new season.

With around only 6-7 contracted players still in the building there has been massive scope for making this a Kewell and Brennan squad for the future and so far we’ve seen some good names coming through the door and one or two with points to prove or potential to be untapped.

Before the signings began, it was good to see Wes Fonguck accepting a new offer and staying with the club after an ACL injury curtailed his season early last year. A player with potential to make his mark in the game, this could turn out to be the biggest year of his career.

The day after Josh Payne was the first one through the door, experience in both the EFL and National League and a loss for Eastleigh when he moved to Woking a couple of years ago. One same day, two more joined Payne at The Hive, a striker in Mason Bloomfield and one that Bees fans were desperately wanting left back Sam Beard.

Bloomfield doesn’t have the most prolific of career stats in front of goal, but at 24 can provide the height of a target man at 6’3 and be a real threat from set pieces, he will need to have his best return ever of goals to ensure the Bees finish high up the table.

Beard was one of the two ‘need to be made’ signings. Having impressed all around the club with his loan spell at the end of last season, Beard brings a good positional sense at full back and isn’t shy of a tackle, already a fans favourite and one that should continue to prosper.

A day later, four more arrived through the doors in the shape of Jake Askew, Kian Flanagan, Jordan Thomas, and Josh Doherty. Askew arrives from Wealdstone and will compete with Aymen Azaze for the number 1 jersey although there currently is no date for Azaze to return following the nasty injury he was on the receiving end of last season so expect another keeper to likely come in, possibly on a short term basis.

Flanagan arrives from Crystal Palace, highly rated by former Bees manager and player Gary Phillips, just 21 and again with potential to make a decent start to his career.

Thomas also comes from the Premier League, Norwich City his previous club and another youngster looking to make an impression in the professional game in the right back position.

Doherty played under Kewell at Crawley and can play up and down the left hand side, giving cover to Beard whilst also allowing the Irishman to ping the ball into the box and brings a wealth of EFL experience to the club.

Hot on the heels of those boys just a couple of days later were a couple of cracking signings.

First up was striker Adam Marriott, a goalscoring record second to none at Kings Lynn and finished up the season at play-off chasing Eastleigh. Certainly, a compliment to Broomfield as a striking pair as it currently stands, a signing there that means business in my opinion if he can replicate his form in Norfolk.

The Bees added to that with the capture of title winning defender Jamie Turley from Leyton Orient where his medal comes from. At 6’1 a towering central defender who can also provide cover at right back, like Doherty his cover in extra positions will come in handy over the course of a long season and the experience he brings in alongside the youth coming in has given the squad a nice blend.

Not to be finished there, Mitch Brundle pitched up to become the 10th signing of the summer. Brundle like the two prior arrivals has bundles of experience at this level and a potential crucial partnership with Payne, Harry Taylor or Fonguck when fit could be the key to a successful season.

With arrivals there are almost always departures and it was no surprise to see centre halves Liam Daly and Matt Preston leave the club, the former having fallen down the pecking list last season whilst the latter understandably wants to play week in week out after missing so much of last season through injury and not guaranteed a starting position this time around, a mutual agreement was reached.

I don’t believe this is the end of the incomings either, potentially as many as six more to come through the door and with a big number of trialists currently featuring in behind closed doors matches one or two at least will surely do enough to earn a squad number for next season.

Already this is a good blend of experience and youth, but with all clubs around us making some useful signings it’s going to take a very, very top drawer effort to make it out of the National League……….

Familiar traits back to haunt us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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