Brennan gets the Bees off the mark

I’m sure being a Barnet fan you achieve more highs and lows in one season than some fans can find in a lifetime, granted it’s more lows than highs to be honest, one thing you can’t deny is there is hardly ever a dull moment!

It was about two weeks ago I blogged the pressure was on Harry Kewell, one more loss and almost a week later he was gone. Not seen really as a surprise across the footballing world although there were a few of us who expected the ride to last a little bit longer.

I was expecting the Australian to be given two games, Bromley away and Weymouth at home. The latter coincided with the only time bar Bank Holiday Monday in August when a trip to The Hive was possible, so armed with Nick Patel that was to be the game before Kewell was out the door.

Enter stage left, Dean Brennan Head of Football. Many believe it’s now set up for the Irishman to take the main job and potentially with it the end of the structure so sought after within around six months of its inception.

Kewell seemed at times stuck in his own little bubble, his interviews pre and post-match were bland, full of nothing and details of injuries kept hidden in his back pocket.

Brennan on the other hand straight off on Friday, boom we knew who hadn’t a chance of making the game and how long they’re out for, not sure what Kewell was trying to achieve but didn’t endear himself with the Bees faithful.

Kept off the bottom only by Dover’s minus points, there is only one way to go. Reports of training and the whole week feeling like a cloud had been lifted over the Harrow complex tells you the story of maybe the past seven games, the fact that despite whatever was going to happen at The Hive on Saturday Peter Beadle’s side of last year had more points at this stage something was badly lacking.

Brennan’s decision to go with Josh Payne as a defensive midfielder at the expense of a second striker was a good choice, leaking goals for fun and if you can’t outscore the opposition then of course you must shore up your own backline.

Having watched Weymouth the week before against Dover, I was expecting the visitors to control a lot of the possession and they didn’t disappoint. Sam Shields was a constant menace down the Bees right hand side and despite getting balls into the box the Barnet centre halves of Ben Richards-Everton and skipper Harry Taylor dealt with most backed up by keeper Sam Sargeant.

Despite only playing with the one striker in Mason Bloomfield, the balls up to him were sticking and being quite a release from defensive pressure, for a big guy he has a very good touch and get’s his body in-between ball and the defender.

It was clear to see the Bees had done some work on set piece delivery during the week, corners into the box from Payne were causing the visitors a few issues, a rehearsed move of finding Richards-Everton at the back post nearly produced a goal from his header back across, Ephron Mason-Clark eventually shooting over.

It was from a corner the Bees took the lead just after the half hour mark, Payne’s delivery found Mitch Brundle unmarked in the box and his free header gave Ross Fitzsimons no chance in the Terras goal.

A set piece again nearly brought a second goal for the home side in first half stoppage time, Payne hitting the post with Fitzsimons beaten all ends up, Barnet heading into the break in front, hugely against the wall in possession stats.

Both Brundle and Mason-Clark had early chances to increase Barnet’s lead but Fitzsimons was equal to the efforts and from there on both sides traded chances without too much testing of either keeper.

The visitors found an equaliser 20 minutes from time, Shields’ cross into the box wasn’t dealt with and found it’s way to Brandon Goodship to touch past Sargeant, a taste of Barnet’s character to come for the remainder of the game.

Neither side seemed content to settle for a draw, the visitors though once again controlling possession mostly but changes for the Bees proved to be influential.

Daniel Powell on for David Sesay stole the ball from the dithering defender, powered towards the penalty area and slid the ball to fellow substitute Adam Marriott who calmly drew Fitzsimons out of his goal, and slotted home for the Bees.

Five minutes from time the home side made sure the three points were staying with them, Sam Beard’s high hanging cross was headed towards goal by Richards-Everton, crashed against the crossbar and over the line, the assistant referee signalling a goal as Marriott made sure the ball ended up in the back of the net, the defender with the goal however to give the Bees their first win of the season and a great start under Brennan.

Having heard about the different atmosphere around the training ground during the week as mentioned, the result possibly wasn’t a surprise and generally the new manager bounce as well, however had Weymouth scored first then we would have needed to see some resolve appear from the men in black and amber.

Credit to Brennan for the right substitutions at the right time, that won the Bees the game effectively. Taylor and Richards-Everton looked better as a central defensive partnership than anything else so far this year, Bloomfield as impressive leading the line as he was against Chesterfield a couple of weeks ago.

The win however means nothing if it’s not backed up with another home game this coming weekend and followed up by two sides in and around us, much work still to be done and at least we’re finally off the mark……..

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……………………