Bassey’s Bees end on a high

Image courtesy of Ben Fullylove (@BenFullylove)

The finale. The crescendo of the end. For what has seemed like a season that as gone on for an eternity, finally arrived at its conclusion and with it a second and final time heading to The Hive within a week.

The ramblings, rights and wrongs of a full season will be for another blog this coming week but Saturday was all about the champions coming to town, Sutton Utd’s final game in non-league football for the time being as they headed for the Football League, Barnet the furthest from the promised land in the National League.

Tuesday night was a lonesome trip but Saturday was an eye-opener in terms of facilities for three of my fellow PNLP podcast chaps, James Easton, Jonny Kenworthy and Pete Vale. If you haven’t had a listen we ramble on about non-league football which is some feat considering we’ve had very little since November, one more episode to record after the NL play-off final in June, available on all platforms.

Having released the superb Michael Petrasso on Friday to return home to Canada ahead of their domestic season beginning, Simon Bassey was forced into a change on the bench with fellow loanee Courtney Baker-Richardson replacing the Canadian, Petrasso’s contribution when fit cannot be under-estimated.

Changes galore for the visitors were expected but still a strong outfit faced the Bees on the pitch. On a sun-drenched afternoon both sides looked a little on the beach in the first half, for all the possession Sutton had in the opening forty-five minutes there was little to show for it, Ben Nugent and Ben Richards-Everton equal to everything thrown and crossed their way, Adam Parkes with little to do.

Ephron Mason-Clark had Barnet’s best effort mid-way through the half, his mazy run and final shot stung the palms of U’s keeper Dean Bouzanis whilst Parkes had to deal with his only shot at him, a reflex save two minutes before the break as the half time scoreline read level and the game needing an injection of quality.

As per Tuesday night against Maidenhead, Barnet came out stronger in the second half and just after the hour mark the Bees went in front in the strangest of circumstances.

An effort from Harry Taylor seemed to strike a post and into the hands of Bouzanis but the assistant referee on the far side away from the ball seem convinced it was over the line and the young midfielder was credited with his second goal in as many games after going 150 matches without one!

And while that had the error of comedy about it, there was nothing to laugh about seven minutes later when Mason-Clark’s mazy run took him across the edge of the penalty area and unleashed a fierce drive which cannoned back off the crossbar but would have been a great contender for goal of the season had it hit the back of the net.

Sutton thought they had restored parity on 73 minutes, Parkes caught slightly off his line but the ball again striking the crossbar and the home side still in front.

The points however were wrapped up in stoppage time as Josh Walker unleashed a powerful shot past Bouzanis into the roof of the net, Sam Skeffington providing a second assist of the afternoon and the Bees finishing with a three match unbeaten run taking points off the top two in the process.

Despite the changes made by the visitors a deserved win to finish the season and only goal difference kept the Bees at the bottom of the table which given the situation when Bassey and Dave Anderson arrived it’s nothing short of remarkable.

Given that the pair only added Skeffington, Sam Beard and Adam Parkes to the group, they achieved far more in less time than the previous two incumbents in the manager’s chair.

Very quickly the attention turns to pre-season with the players back at The Hive in less than five weeks but not before picking out the best of the day’s performers.

Skeffington once again turned in a man of the match performance and must be near the top of the summer shopping list, a big fan of his drive and energy over the course of his loan spell. Beard is another who must be enticed to stay, regular football at this level will do him no harm as the last few weeks have shown.

Mason-Clark should he stay will be a driving forced behind any improvement we see next season, very simply as Bassey has done with him, give him the ball and let him create havoc.

Praise again for the two Bens’, Nugent and Richards-Everton, no change given for either of the Sutton front pairing and when you think of how the former was mistake-ridden all through this season, maybe a player is in there somewhere?

The ball is now in the chairman’s court to back up his interview of a few months ago, failure to act quickly and decisively inside the next eight weeks will see the enthusiasm and pride regained over the past thirteen or so games ebb away and the bottom three will be where this club will reside in front of crowds like the 686 here to witness the final game , over to you now Tony the clock is ticking………..

Are you PNLP?

Last week saw the beginning of a new venture for me, the Premier Non-League Podcast. Before the pandemic started I was looking at something like this to be my next venture, after all if you stand still things pass you by and the opportunity is gone. Of course, that plan like life itself was put on hold!

However, as one door closes another one opens and a few weeks back when the #LetFansIn campaign was at its height I was invited onto a special Rebel Yell podcast run by Worthing FC fans James Easton and Peter Vale and also joined by the voice of Bognor Regis FC’s Rocks Radio host Lee Roberts.

Subsequently, James mentioned to Lee and me about a new podcast he was putting together and asked if we were interested. Needless to say, we both accepted and along with Horsham fans Jonny Kenworthy and Iain Budgen the PNLP was born.

On first glance you might be thinking ‘well this is going to be an Isthmian League podcast’ given the teams these guys support (my allegiance is also to Worthing at this level) but not at all.

Our aim is to cover Steps 1-6 and even Step 7 if the material is there, premier to me means the best, we want to give the game the best coverage we can. We’re very keen to get clubs and fans involved, it’s your podcast what do you want to listen to?

However, we do have a structure so it’s not hours of endless rambling from the six of us, we plan on an interview from a top non-league player whose made it in the professional game depending on how forthcoming they will be, failing that between us we have enough contacts to get you a view from a different level of the game and we welcome any club chairman or manager that would like to get themselves on air.

The show will be pre-recorded and out for your ears before the end of the week on a fortnightly basis to begin with and if we can raise the listener profile quickly there is a good chance it will become a weekly feature.

We are looking for a sponsor to come forward to cover the costs of our hosting platform, these aren’t a huge amount but we’d like to get some coverage out there for someone’s business, you will appear all over our branding across social media and linked into the voiceover’s for use on the show. Please get in touch via our channels below if this is of interest.

We are looking for some help from those of you with links to the Midlands clubs, just a bit of content is all we’re asking for but a chance for someone to get themselves some exposure, again please get in touch via the channels below.

We have our own Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ThePNLP, our Twitter handle is @ThePNLP and you can email us thepnlp@hotmail.com, we want to hear from you so please get in touch. All that’s left to say is give us a listen and see what you think, comment good or bad and get us trending! #AreYouPNLP……….