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……

Ten man Bees gain three valuable points

A trip south to Weymouth awaited the Bees on Bank Holiday Monday as they looked to put in a better performance than the weekend defeat to Dagenham at The Hive where they were comprehensively outplayed.

Simon Bassey rung the changes to his starting line-up, conscious of those who aren’t long returned from injury and those who haven’t got 90 minutes in them which he alluded to post match on Saturday.

That meant a return to the starting line-up for Ben Nugent, Tomi Adeloye, Sam Skeffington and Antony Wordsworth whilst Matt Preston and Michael Petrasso dropped to the bench, Sam Beard out through injury and Liam Daly missing altogether for the second game running. With Beard out Alex McQueen slotted into the left back role, one of the problem positions all season.

On a blustery afternoon both sides struggled to put together a decent set of passes in a game that was being played for not much more than pride, one of the few times Barnet were looking to complete the double over opponents this season.

Indeed there was very little to shout about for the first twenty minutes, Barnet set up nicely and the hosts struggling to break them down. The Bees first effort of the game didn’t come until the 22nd minute when Ephron Mason-Clark tested Ethan Ross in the home goal but shot straight at the stopper.

Just a minute later the Bees winger tested Ross once again, this time the fierce shot from Mason-Clark needed to be tipped over the bar as the Bees began to find a little bit of momentum going forward.

And it was the visitors who opened the scoring not long after the half hour mark. A corner from the left was headed back across goal from Nugent for fellow centre half Ben Richards-Everton to prod home for his first goal in Barnet colours.

The Terras should have equalised two minutes after the goal, Calvin Brooks with a great chance but couldn’t find a way past Bees keeper Adam Parkes. The remainder of the game until half time was a scrappy affair, neither side able to create many chances and the home side slightly stunned to be behind.

Weymouth knew they needed to come out for the second half with more intent on breaking down the visitors compact defending, but it was the Bees who nearly increased their lead just four minutes into the second half, Adeloye shooting straight at Ross.

The balance of the game looked like it was going to change in the 54th minute when Wordsworth was sent off for a dangerous challenge, his second red card of the season likely to earn him a four match ban and a potential last appearance in a Bees shirt, lack of fitness and indiscipline might cost him a place in next season’s squad despite a wand of a left foot.

As it was the Bees dug in and kept a really good shape which the home side were struggling to break through, the visitors left to play on the counter attack with the pace of Mason-Clark and Adeloye.

On 68 minutes McQueen saw his free kick tipped over the bar by Ross in one of the rare opportunities the Bees had a chance to score from, but 13 minutes from time Barnet made sure of the points as from a Terra’s corner, Adeloye was set free from inside his own half, sprinted clear and finished with aplomb past Ross for his third goal of the season.

Mason-Clark should have made doubly sure of the points three minutes later after a mazy run but his effort couldn’t beat Ross. Weymouth pushed and probed for a way back into the game but the Bees held firm and a third win in seven for Bassey now sees Barnet five points behind Kings Lynn with six to play.

This was certainly a better performance than against Dagenham but granted Weymouth did not pop the ball around as well as the East Londoners. The energy of Skeffington around the pitch was much needed while Mason-Clark and Adeloye gave the Terras defence no end of problems all afternoon and always looked likely to create something.

Mason-Clark has certainly seen something of a revival under Bassey and looks much more the player who has been told to play, take on defenders and worry players with his pace, that’s his game and not difficult to get him to play it.

Mention again for Themis Kefalas who picked up what is turning into a customary yellow card just before half time, defended sensibly once again for the remainder of the game compared to his midfield colleague who didn’t complete the 90 minutes.

Still six more games to play as we head through May, some tough, some where we could pick up enough points to hit a meagre thirty for the season, at least we have seen some pride return in these past few weeks and whilst I’m enjoying the fact we’re competitive in the most part, like most others I can’t wait for this sorry excuse of a season to end……………………

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………

Bassey tastes defeat for the first time

It’s a strange feeling going into games now not expecting Barnet to come away with a four or five goal thumping such has been the progress in just a few games under the stewardship of Simon Bassey and Dave Anderson.

A trip to Gander Green Lane to face a Sutton Utd side who were seen as champions-elect only a few weeks ago with a mammoth number of games in hand was seen as a very big test of how far this side had become despite the fact the hosts hadn’t been in the best of form recently.

Bassey made one change to Saturday’s victorious eleven, Ben Richards-Everton back in at centre half at the expense of skipper Liam Daly possibly to counter the pace threat of former Worthing winger David Ajiboye should Sam Beard need the cover.

As expected the hosts started the brighter, the need for the three points probably emphasised emphatically by Sutton boss Matt Grey to his players to keep up their title challenge, but despite a lot of early possession and pressure they didn’t test Bees keeper Aymen Azaze.

The game looked very similar to last Tuesday, hosts make all the running whilst Barnet looked to soak up the pressure and break on the counter in order to get something from the game. An early booking for Themis Kefalas didn’t give the youngster much scope for error for the remaining 81 minutes but sensible play from the QPR loanee ensured the Bees kept a full compliment on the pitch for the fifth game running.

Ephron Mason-Clark was at the centre of anything likely to happen for Barnet and indeed had the first Bees effort of the night after 14 minutes, but saw his shot blocked by the Sutton defence.

Neither side were making the most of their set pieces, Barnet defending well once again whilst Alex McQueen’s delivery into the opposing box lacked quality throughout the game.

The game for the Bees became a little irrelevant in first half stoppage time as Azaze raced out from his goal only to be clipped in the face as he denied the on-rushing Sutton forward, the young Belgian goalkeeper stretched off as 16 year old James Callan came on for his first team debut, news on Azaze still awaited at the time of writing although believed to be a fractured eye socket and cheekbone.

After going into the break level, the home side knew they needed to up the ante in the second half especially with a young untested goalkeeper and started the same way as the first half, Callan called into early action but comfortably claiming the ball from a Sutton head following a corner.

Moments later Callan was in the action again saving from Harry Beautyman whilst the Bees Lee Vaughan managed to get Courtney Baker-Richardson in behind the U’s defence, but the striker was unable to keep the ball goal bound after rounding the keeper.

The game was broken up a little over the following ten minutes, a raft of bookings as the game started to drift a little until a golden chance for substitute Tomi Adeloye on 67 minutes saw the striker unable to toe poke the ball past Sutton keeper Dean Bouzanis.

Two minutes later the home side finally had their goal, corner in from their right hand side was pushed out well by Callan only for the ball to fall at the feet of striker Omar Bugiel and the former Worthing front man lashed the ball into the roof of the net.

Whilst the goal knocked a bit of stuffing out of the Bees, there was still time to grab an equaliser and with Michael Petrasso on for the industrious Sam Skeffington there was every chance for Barnet to create something but the home side defended well to stop the Bees getting the ball down the flanks and into the box.

Little goalmouth action followed in the remaining ten minutes and Bassey tasted defeat for the first time since arriving at The Hive, but no disgrace in losing to a good Sutton side who have been in the title race for the best part of the season.

Plenty of positives last night, Matt Preston looking stronger game by game after returning from injury, Beard not allowing Ajiboye much of a kick all evening, the energy of Skeffington across midfield whilst Callan at such a young age coped well with anything that came his way.

Best wishes to Aymen Azaze and now it remains to be seen before the weekend which route the club go down, Scott Loach to return from furlough, Callan to continue until Azaze is fit with no sub keeper or an emergency loan from the EFL or NLS, the former I believe out of the question so it’s between the other two options in my opinion, long term Barnet’s goalkeeping department looks in good hands……..

Bees snatch it at the death

Blogging becomes a little easier when your team is winning, or even stringing along an unbeaten run, but every game is a new test which is certainly a better way of looking at it rather than a Barnet thumping every week.

Whilst there is very little football going on that you can watch at a ground and while it’s nice to blog about your favourite team I can’t wait to get things more diverse which is what this is all about.

The Bees headed north to Altrincham on a three match unbeaten run, the longest they have enjoyed this season in the National League and showing a very different side to their play under Simon Bassey. The home side hadn’t scored in three matches and on paper looked to be a slightly more even clash than you would have anticipated.

I was quite impressed with the Robins when they visited The Hive earlier in the season, the side were flying high in the table but found themselves in the mid to lower reaches of the table as the Bees arrived.

Bassey made one change to the starting line-up, Courtney Baker-Richardson back in after suspension at the expense of the unfortunate Tomi Adeloye whilst Michael Petrasso made a welcome return to the bench.

As per the last few games Barnet started the opening minutes in bright fashion, but unlike the previous three games they conceded early and almost looked to be like back to the days of old. Despite an attack breaking down, the Robins recycled the ball across the box and when the ball fell to Ryan Colclough he sent the ball fizzing past Aymen Azaze with just four minutes on the clock.

Having not gone behind in the last three outings it was a little bit of new territory with things having gone to plan so far. The play after the goal was sluggish and Barnet failed to retain the ball when they did dispossess Altrincham, passes going astray and unlike what we’ve seen since Bassey arrived.

It got worse on 15 minutes, Azaze pushing out a free kick to his right only for the Robins to return it into the danger area and Alistair Smith heading past the Bees keeper to put the home side firmly in control.

The Bees still couldn’t get going in as the hosts didn’t need to push the game forward comfortable with a two goal lead. Harry Taylor was close to dispossessing the hosts keeper after not clearing his lines but Ephron Mason-Clark couldn’t finish off Alex McQueen’s cross as a result.

The hosts looked to be finishing the half strong as Azaze tipped a shot round the post whilst Dan Mooney shot wide when well placed, but the Bees managed to find a way back into the game in first half stoppage time.

Mason-Clark’s long clearance from just outside his own box saw a Robins defender and keeper Tony Thompson fail to communicate, the ball headed over the on-rushing custodian and Courtney Baker-Richardson was on hand to put the ball into the empty net and the visitors back into the game.

A change at half time saw Sam Skeffington off with injury replaced by Petrasso, Skeffington I felt did struggle to get hold of the game while the change brought McQueen back into the middle of midfield.

The change of formation did look as if it was going to pay dividends in the second half, the next goal in the game was going to be crucial. The Bees had their fair share of set pieces but unable to find the head of a fellow player in black and amber.

They came close just after the hour mark when Mason-Clark’s deflected shot forced Thompson into a smart save whilst Baker-Richardson and McQueen couldn’t quite hit the target soon after.

The final twenty minutes saw the game open up as the Bees gambled on getting the equaliser whilst the Robins wanted to put the game to bed, Barnet adding Adeloye up front at the expense of Themis Kefalas to go 4-4-2 for the final seven minutes.

Four minutes after the change the Bees were level, a loose ball picked up by Mason-Clark saw the winger stride into the box and slot the ball past Thompson for the equaliser.

Barnet however weren’t done there as they sent on central defender Ben Richards-Everton for Baker-Richardson, extra height as they pushed for the winner and just a minute later they had it.

The hosts couldn’t clear the ball from around their own penalty area and a cross from Mason-Clark found Adeloye in the six yard box who poked the ball past Thompson for his second goal from the bench on successive Saturday’s.

The Bees negotiated stoppage time without too much drama and when a final cross into the box was plucked out the air by Azaze, the game was done for the hosts.

So four games unbeaten for Bassey and Dave Anderson although the result looked very unlikely from the first 15 minutes and most of the first half. I thought the change at half time despite Bassey saying it was down to injury actually balanced us a lot better as while Mason-Clark was again a nuisance down the left wing McQueen looked lost on the other flank, neither attacking well nor giving Lee Vaughan much protection.

The second half performance looked a lot more like what we saw over the past three games although the first half showed the lack of consistency that we’ve seen so often over the course of the season.

This unbeaten run is the best so far in the National League for Barnet this season although it hasn’t been hard to achieve that, a very stern test awaits at Sutton Utd on Tuesday evening, another side going through a dip in form and whilst four or five weeks ago they would have been expecting an easy three points.

One last thing to reflect on, Bassey’s won more games already than Tim Flowers managed in around three months whilst also equalising the amount of league wins Peter Beadle achieved in his time in charge, it’s either not rocket science or there are some managers out of their depth or lacking in playing style to suit what they have, I’ll leave you to make your mind up on that one………

Another small step in the right direction

Local derbies are never one for the faint hearted and Tuesday night’s trip to Boreham Wood was going to be no exception for Barnet FC. After Saturday’s win over Aldershot provided the Bees with a first win under Simon Bassey the trip up the road was likely to be a much sterner test.

A knock for one of the weekend goal-scorers JJ Hooper saw him replaced by Tomi Adeloye, himself a goal getter at the weekend, in an otherwise unchanged line up.

As per the weekend both sides opened brightly under the Meadow Park lights and it’s refreshing to see the Bees concentration from the off rather than expecting us to concede a goal or two and be out of the game before half-time.

The Bees had the first couple of early chances, although it was Kabongo Tshimanga who forced Aymen Azaze to save at his near post inside five minutes, one of the very few occasions the young Belgian keeper had a shot on target to make him work.

Ephron Mason-Clark, who again provided some good width and penetrating runs on the left flank, tested Wood with a couple of half chances as the home side started to take control of possession but were not creating too many chances, Tshimanga and Matt Rhead marshalled well by Liam Daly and Matt Preston.

On the half hour came Barnet’s best chance of the game, Adeloye making a little space for himself and only a strong hand from Wood keeper Nathan Ashmore prevented the Bees going in front.

Play swung from end to end with both sides trading corners but neither able to make the other pay from set pieces despite height in both ranks and the sides went in goalless at half time, Wood definitely enjoying more possession and putting the Bees under some pressure at times.

Wood certainly upped the ante from the re-start as Barnet struggled to get the ball and when they did they couldn’t keep it long enough to halt the pressure coming their way. The home side forced a succession of corners within the first 15 minutes of the half but failed to make any of them count as the Bees looked to play fully on the counter attack.

Just after the hour mark a mis-controlled ball from Krystian Pearce was about to set Adeloye away but the Wood defender took the foul and a yellow card before the Bees striker could make an impact.

The final quarter of the game saw the home side poke and probe to try and find a way through the visitors defence but Barnet held firm despite the odd nervy moment with balls coming into the box, but a second clean sheet in three games for Azaze and a third game unbeaten for Simon Bassey and Dave Anderson in what was certainly a very different game from the previous two sets of opponents.

For a side that has been caving in all season under pressure, this result was another huge step in the right direction upwards. Granted we have no other way to go but this is the first time this season the team has gone three games without losing in the National League, a pretty poor stat but one we’re not surprised at.

Plusses are springing up all over the park, Themis Kefalas once again a vital cog in front of that back four who are growing in confidence every game. Sam Skeffington quietly going about his game with energy whilst the press Harry Taylor put in for 89 minutes was pretty decent, to make Wood think harder about where they were putting the next pass every time, a different role for the young midfielder but one that gave the team something else.

Adeloye is starting to look more the part like Hooper, a job to do and knowing what to do, very simple but why couldn’t the others manage it with these players? Did they over complicate it or just a stubbornness to stick to one style?

Either way they are starting to be moulded into a team that’s hard to penetrate and be beaten, a bit more pride appears to be emanating back into the shirt which is all us supporters ask for.

Just a note on Antonis Vasiliou, I know a lot of fans want to see him on the bench and whilst I’ve loved the moments where he has played this season I can see why he’s not involved at the moment. People criticise two defenders on the bench, but when you break down the play as it is now one will replace Taylor after he’s run himself into the ground to shore up the back line.

If that defender has come on earlier for an injured player then we lose that game plan notion and we need to be water-tight defensively, that breeds the confidence of not getting smashed or simply conceding.

Vasiliou has a role to play next season I feel, Petrasso we would expect to return home which gives room for the young Cypriot to make his mark at this level, it’s ‘horses for courses’ as I see it to get us through the remainder of the season and to restore more of that pride I mentioned earlier.

In a week where the greed at the top end of the game was almost taken to a new level it’s refreshing to see my football club is taking small steps to get back on an even keel after the disbelief of all we’ve seen across the live streams all season, after all owners are just custodians of our clubs, supporters are there for life…………………..

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……….

Title race very much alive and kicking

As the season enters the final six weeks of what seems to have been the longest eight months on record, there is a fantastic title race at the top of the National League for promotion into the Football League.

Had last season carried on I believe we would have seen a challenge to Barrow who were having a mini wobble at the time of the pandemic forcing all football to be suspended. As it was they took their place in League Two along with Harrogate Town for the 2020-21 season.

This season for a majority of the first few months it looked a one horse race as Torquay Utd won game after game and on Boxing Day last year after thumping local rivals Yeovil Town 6-1 the Gulls were nine points clear of their closest challengers despite having played two games more.

A stuttering January and February where only one win was gained in each month saw the chasing pack catch and overtake Torquay but the Gulls have managed to compose themselves and remain firmly in the hunt for automatic promotion.

The biggest advantage takers from Torquay’s blip have been Sutton Utd, quietly going about their business and stealing a march whilst the Gulls faltered. Of course every team goes through at least one sticky patch in a season and the Gander Green Lane outfit have been no different although more in the form of draws than defeats.

The basis of their title charge this side of Xmas has been a current 14 match unbeaten run which stretches back to the beginning of February and despite a few more draws in the last five weeks or so they too remain fully in contention.

With no game at the weekend they relinquished top spot to Hartlepool but trail the North East side by just a single point with a massive four games in hand whilst being three points in front of Torquay with a game in hand on them.

This Tuesday night see the Gulls heading to Gander Green Lane in search of three big points. Whilst the hosts can afford to draw in terms of their games in hand on both chasing clubs the visitors really need the win to keep the pressure on Sutton and Hartlepool as we head towards the season climax.

As well as Sutton’s great run Hartlepool are themselves 14 games unbeaten and their season comes to a climax a week earlier than everyone else due to Dover’s demise this season and it couldn’t have been written any better, a trip to Sutton in what potentially could a title decider depending on how results fair for both clubs in the next four weeks.

Having watched all three sides either on BT Sport or streamed against Barnet you can make a case for all three to be champions. Sutton are well organised at the back, strikers who can poses a threat up front and the goals from midfield of Harry Beautyman a real bonus.

Pools are free-flowing, also strong defensively and goals across the team, like Sutton they know if they keep their run going it’s going to become a two horse race.

Torquay though now they are over a raft of injuries to key players will feel the race is far from done even if they suffer defeat on Tuesday night, the wily Gary Johnson will try to ensure his team are competitive till the end. With Saturday Tuesday Saturday football for Sutton to contend with over the next four weeks more than the other two sides there is likely to be a lot more twists and turns before the curtain comes down on a difficult season.

Underneath these three clubs those currently in the play-off’s positions are very much in control. Three defeats in a row for Wrexham and for Eastleigh just recently has made the job a little harder whilst four draws in the last five for Boreham Wood might have given them a little too much to do.

Sandwiched in between those three clubs are Bromley who seem to have come to terms with the departure of Neil Smith and unbeaten in three games under Andy Woodman, but like those around them it might be an ask to get inside those top seven places and stay there.

Ten games to go for most clubs does mean there is time to turn things around but those games will pass by very quickly and then the margin for error becomes smaller and smaller, its going to be a great race to the finish, just a shame we are unlikely to witness any of it live bar the final game of the season, although spare a thought for Hartlepool fans who as mentioned above finish a week earlier than anyone else, could be champions and not one celebration inside their Victoria Park Ground.

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…………