Match report: Barnet FC vs Southend United
Summary: Although it may have been at times a bit unconvincing and slightly nerve-wracking, Barnet came out of this match as deserved victors. The first twenty or so minutes were thoroughly unimpressive with the team struggling to string two passes together. The breakthrough came, however, on the thirty-first minute when a brilliant Byrne free kick was swung expertly into the danger area before Hyde nodded it past Paul Smith. Then, midway through the second half after yet another good cross from Byrne, Davids pounced onto the ball and directed it goal wards for loanee Dani Lopez to emphatically smash in from a yard or two. Overall, even though the stats present a very happy picture, Barnet did have to work very hard to grind this game out.
My feelings were very mixed as I sat on the Northern Line back from school pondering the game that was about to take place: Barnet have not had their shooting boots on as of late and after two nil-nil bore draws, I could not see the Bees bagging more than one goal. Nonetheless, the Bees have compensated somewhat for their shyness in front of goal with building up a very solid defence and I was pretty certain that the Shrimpers would thrash us either. So, despite being apprehensive, I thought that Barnet had a chance to at least get something out of the game. Moreover, Southend had just got into the Johnston Paint Trophy Finals and were probably focusing on that more than this match.
The line up was not particularly controversial and the sort of thing that you would expect. John Oster though, was still out with injury meaning that ‘Clovinho’ would take his place. Furthermore, Lopez, who had made his first Bees start the Saturday previous to this game, was still in the team. Finally, after his impressive cameo performance against Rochdale young starlet Mauro Vilhete was handed his first start of the season ahead of Yiadom. For the away team, the unpredictable Bilal Moshni who, it would be fair to say, is not the most popular player among Barnet fans, found himself exempt from the game due to a suspension.
The first twenty minutes of the game were absolutely dire from a Black and Amber perspective. Making a successful pass was a triumph while getting into the opposition’s half seemed almost impossible. A constant barrage of blue shirts were constantly swarming about Stack’s penalty area, ready to pounce on what was to be another inevitable Barnet mistake. Luckily, however, Southend were not managing to break through with N’Gala and Stephens often being forced into last ditch tackles and their best chance coming from Assombalonga when he skied a one on one, albeit from a tight angle. Admittedly, Vilhete did have shot well saved by Smith but aside from this, these twenty minutes were not very easy on the eye.
Play continued in this manner until the Bees received a dangerous free kick for Byrne to take. Byrne stroked the ball right into the path of Hyde who slotted it into the bottom corner of Smith’s goal. This gave Barnet the confidence boost they dearly needed. From here onwards, the Bees showed a lot more purpose when with the ball and looked a completely different side.
Southend were clearly frustrated at how they were losing after dominating the opening exchanges and had a myriad of chances in the second half. Firstly, they had a strong penalty appeal after Stephens looked to have clearly handled the ball and then they hit the post. It looked as if it was simply not the Shrimpers’ day and this was confirmed when a drilled cross from Byrne towards the far post was met by an intelligent run from Davids whose shot was parried right at Lopez’s feet to tap into the goal. From his celebration it looked as if Davids thought he had scored the goal but it’s irrelevant really.
Davids must have realised that he was not in fact the scorer of the second goal and he seemed very determined to get onto the score sheet so that he could record his first ever Barnet goal. A few minutes after the Bees had doubled their lead; Davids jinxed his way through a few Southend defenders only to see his finish saved well by Paul Smith.
Overall, the players battled hard for the majority of the game and once they got into their stride they were a force to be reckoned with, as shown by their seventeen shots on target (most of them coming from Dani Lopez).
Graham Stack - 7: One or two good saves but, as has been the case recently, did not have much to do.
Elliot Johnson – 7: An assured performance
Bondz N’Gala – 7.5: Fits the bill very nicely.
David Stephens – 7.5: A trademark performance.
Barry Fuller – 7: Did his job
Mauro Vilhete – 6.5: Looked slightly out of his depth. A lightweight.
Clovis Kamdjo - 8 .5 (MOTM): Once the Bees got going, he was probably the best player on the pitch, playing lots of good passes and defending well.
Mark Byrne - 8: Got two assists and was a useful player overall.
Dani Lopez - 7: Clearly a very skilful player but he did have a slight habit of letting fly from ridiculous places.
Edgar Davids - 8: Very fired up and controlled the game at points.
Jake Hyde – 7.5: Scored and performed tirelessly.
Curtis Weston – NA: No impact.
Andy Yiadom – 7: Did look like more of a threat than Vilhete when he came on.