Thursday, 7 March 2013

Barnet vs Southend

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.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Barnet FC vs Port Vale



Summary: A clinical striker was the missing piece in the jigsaw for the Bees after a largely dominant display all round the field ended with them only receiving one point. The first half was all about Barnet with abundant crosses flashing past Vale ‘keeper Neal’s penalty area. Yiadom was causing a lot of havoc while the midfield trio of Oster, Davids and Byrne were conducting the tempo of the game very well often spraying out very good balls. By the half time mark the Bees could have easily found themselves two or three up but they were struggling to convert any of the many chances that they had produced. The second half was a much more even affair and both chances had their fair share of chances; a John Oster shot was miraculously tipped over the bar by Neal while, on the other side of the pitch, prolific striker Tom Pope saw his header hit the inside of the post. The Bees also had a goal ruled out for offside but it seems that this was a fair considering that Oster’s corner which resulted in the goal was ruled to of gone out of play. Overall, it was a very pleasing performance especially because Port Vale are top of the league and hopefully it can lead to a result against York next Saturday!

                Before this game, on a Barnet forum, I had predicted (in a jokey manner) that Barnet would come out 4 – 0 victors; in hindsight, this wasn’t actually too silly a prediction taking into account the Barnet performance. The Bees were the better team on the day but credit must be given to Port Vale who managed to scupper the constant waves of attack from Barnet.
                I arrived at Underhill five minutes after the game had started due to the excruciatingly slow Rail Replacement Bus services that I had taken. Fortunately, however, it seemed that I had not missed anything of great importance. Even so, after five weeks away from Underhill, I’d forgotten what good football Davids had instilled into the team and it was pleasing to see a team in a relegation scrap easily outplaying the team top of the league. The ball was being stroked around the grass elegantly and players such as Yiadom were causing terror in the heart of Vale’s defence. In fact, after only around fifteen minutes and with good chances from the likes of Yiadom, Byrne and Hyde, I felt that the score line could have been one or two nil in favour of the home side.
                This is not to say though that the league leaders posed no threats. The dangerous Myrie-Williams was inches away from giving the away side an undeserved lead when he shot wide from a one-on-one situation. Nonetheless, aside from this one good chance, they did not pose anything particularly threatening for the first forty five minutes: Pope, who has already scored twenty-five goals this season, was kept very quiet by the formidable duo of Iro and Stephens. The same can be said for the rest of Vale’s attack who, although maybe not as notorious as Pope, have terrorised League Two defences all season but stepped short when faced with the Barnet back four.
                The second half was much more evenly matched than the first and both sides had their chances. The Bees were first to come out of the blocks and Oster, after receiving a breathtaking through ball from Elliot Johnson, had his shot brilliantly saved by Neal.
                After around an hour, Vale finally began to get into their stride and show why they are on route to win the league. A good ball from Myrie-Williams was met by the head of Pope only for the ball to cruelly hit the inside of the post and fall for a relieved Stephens to clear. Barnet had stopped playing the brilliant, easy on the eye stuff that they had displayed in the first half and had instead reverted to defending regular attacks from the opposition and giving the ball away once they’d won it in a style that is annoyingly familiar to Lawrie Sanchez’s Barnet last year.
                The Bee’s did have a goal disallowed but this is not as controversial as it sounds; the linesman immediately put up his flag when Oster took his corner for the ball going off the pitch meaning that all the Vale defenders stopped functioning and gave Iro a free header to dispatch. Still it was at least a chance.
                After a thrilling yet goalless ninety minutes, the referee blew up for full time and left fans of both sides to reflect on the game. Ultimately, it was probably a fair result but Barnet were definitely the better team playing wise and could really do with someone like Pope or the controversial Hughes.
Graham Stack – 7.5:  Barely anything to do and was confident when he was needed.
Elliot Johnson – 8.5: One of the best performers. Has a very bright future. Good at both going forwards and defending
Andy Iro - 8: Very solid. Will be sorry to see him go
David Stephens - 8: Same as Iro.
Barry Fuller – 7.5: Perhaps not as brilliant as he was against the likes of Bradford but was very solid and did nothing wrong.
Andy Yiadom - 8: Cause real havoc in the first half and the Bee’s main threat. Drifted out of the game slightly in the second half.
John Oster -  9 (MOTM): Brilliant. Intelligent whenever on the ball and someone who can be relied on.
Mark Byrne - 8.5: On another day he could have been MOTM. Did most things well and his best performance in a Barnet shirt for a long time.
Jon Nurse - 7: Nothing like a disastrous performance but one can only imagine what Holmes would do if he had replaced Nurse. Found himself in good positions but sometimes wasteful on the ball.
Edgar Davids  - 8.5: Good leadership-wise and playing-wise. Vale were scared of him.
Jake Hyde – 7.5: Made lots of good contributions but not attacking enough to fit the missing striker role that we really need.
Ibra Sekajja - 6: Barely anything to do when he came on but when he was needed he often overcomplicated things.
Curtis Weston – N/A: No impact.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Barnet vs Bradford

Summary : Although it may have been due to some, frankly, horrific Bradford finishing, Barnet managed to scrape a two - nil win against a strong Bantams team. At the end of a mundane first half which contained very few talking points, debutant Taiwo Atieno connected with Elliot Johnson’s cross and easily slotted it past Matt Duke. Then, in the second half, the Bee’s lead doubled when, after a defensive mishap from Bradford, John Oster received the ball and coolly slotted it into the goal; what was especially pleasing about this goal was that it was right off the back of a very good Bradford chance. The last half hour was truly dominated by Bradford and one can only wonder in how they ceased to score: they had a goal disallowed for offside, scraped the crossbar,  let fly with multiple shots which were inches off the post and yet they still couldn't manage to get the ball, legitimately, into the back of the net. Overall, Barnet were a quite lucky to win this encounter but they were owed some fortune after the officiating debacle that had occurred against Aldershot the previous Wednesday.

Bradford have been one of, if not the, stand out teams in League Two this year; they have got to the Semi Finals of the Capital One Cup after beating Wigan, as well as, more notably, coming out victors against full strength Arsenal side. Moreover, they are doing very respectably in the league, currently lying in the Play Off places, eyeing automatic promotion. For these reasons, therefore, playing the ‘Arsenal beaters’ looked to be a prospect that could only end in disappointment. To put it into context, a draw would have been a success.
                Things looked even worse when the teams were read out. Davids, who was still injured, opted to put lead scorer Jake Hyde on the bench and replace with the newly signed Taiwo Atieno. In addition, fans’ favourite Clovis Kamdjo found himself still on the bench as a result of Curtis Weston retaining his place in the starting eleven. Mark Byrne was starting in place of the suspended, while most fans were pleased to see Johnson back at left back since he seems to be a bit better than Jordan Brown.
                From the start it was extremely obvious that Bradford were a very direct side and their constant hoofing up to lone striker Hanson was causing the Bee’s back four some difficulties. This Bantam pressure almost paid off when a low Hanson shot was seemingly millimetres away from rippling into the net. Furthermore, whenever Barnet managed to get the ball at their feet, they were put under a lot of pressure which normally led to a sloppy pass and a chance for Bradford the attack.
                Despite the burden that they were putting the Bees under, Bradford were struggling to create clear cut chances, tending to misplay the final, critical ball. Even so, credit must also go to Barnet back four who defended stoutly and were barely given a moment’s rest.
                The breakthrough occurred just as the half was drawing to a close and people were leaving the stands to get their habitual half time snack; against the run of play, Elliot Johnson raced down the left wing and, drilled a grounded, sumptuous cross that fell for Atieno to score his first goal for the club. The crowd were both surprised and, of course, elated at this unexpected goal and it seemed to ignite a spark into the Bees. For the final five minutes of the half  they looked much better on the ball and had a potential claim for handball after a Ricky Holmes cross looked to have been handled by a Bradford defender.
                The second half proved to be just as fruitful as the first and a second goal came just three minutes after the restart. Bradford looked to have equalised when the ball fell kindly at Nakhi Wells feet but all he could do is drag it wide of the post. Just as Bradford were ruing on this missed opportunity Ricky Holmes, inside the area, placed a perfect pass into the path of Wales international and former Premier League player John Oster who, as coolly as a cucumber, passed the ball into the net. Ecstasy and bliss rushed through the stadium and it looked as if the Bees were cruising the three points that they desperately needed. Nonetheless, murmurs of the word ‘Southend’ could be heard echoing through the shivering wind.
                It certainly looked like a comeback from the Bantams was very plausible and if they had just spent a little more time at shooting practice in training then this could have been a different story altogether. For the last half hour Barnet had next to nothing as far as chances are concerned while the players in pink shirts rang rings around the Bee’s defence only to fumble at the final hurdle. A special mention must go to Barry Fuller, my personal Man of the Match, who defended the dangerous right flank superlatively well.  In fact, after the game a fan posted on Facebook that Fuller should be tested for performance enhancing drugs after his second half performance’. This should take nothing away from the rest of the back four who were also very committed and provided some of their best performances of the season.
                In the end, after numerous six yard snapshots flying wide and over the bar, in addition to a slightly dubious disallowed goal and a shot that skimmed the crossbar Barnet held on to record a very respectable win. It seems as if the Bees always perform better against the bigger teams in the league than they do against the smaller ones. To conclude, a good performance albeit with a bit of help from Lady Luck that puts the Bees in quite a good position for the perennial Relegation Battle.
Graham Stack - 7:  Made some good saves but was not troubled too much thanks to Bradford’s wayward shooting.
Elliot Johnson - 8: Solid as well as providing attacking intent.
Andy Iro - 7: At points looked a bit shaky but coped, overall, quite well.
David Stephens - 8.5: Annoyed the Bradford attackers greatly and stopped lots of attacks.
Barry Fuller - 9 (MOTM): Made multiple crucial slide tackles. Contained the attacks on the right flank very well.
Andy Yiadom - 7.5: Gets better every game.
John Oster -  8: Aside from a few misplaced passes, controlled the game’s tempo and also scored.
Mark Byrne - 7.5: Given more of a defensive duty and played well there.
Ricky Holmes: - 8: Caused many problems in the heart of the Bradford defence. Got the assist for Oster’s goal.
Curtis Weston  - 7: Although he did not make a big contribution he usually was intelligent when he got the ball.
Taiwo Atieno - 6.5: Scored on his debut which is always promising but his touch seemed quite off and he had a tendency to skill himself up.
Jake Hyde - N/A: Not enough time to do anything noteworthy.


Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Barnet vs Aldershot

Summary: Barnet will be thinking that they were the better team in this ‘six point’ encounter between two teams lying uncomfortably close to the dreaded relegation zone. The first half was quite a tepid affair with both teams receiving a few chances but there was nothing too notable; the game suddenly became more exciting, however, when, only a few minutes into the second half, Bee’s center back David Stephens was judged to have handled the ball in the area. Shots’ striker Craig Reid duly dispatched the resulting penalty putting Aldershot one up. Then, almost immediately after this goal, Barnet striker Jon Nurse lunged into Dani Lopez and, consequently, obtained a straight red card. The Bees seemed to play much better after this sending off with Jake Hyde controversially having a goal disallowed while, on the other side of the pitched, Aldershot came close to doubling their lead with Danny Hylton striking the inside of the post from a one-on-one situation. Just as the game was drawing to a close, David Stephens lept up highest from a Mark Byrne corner and headed the ball onto the post. Overall, a very frustrating result from a game that was primarily dominated by the Bees.

The Bees have had quite a sucessful Christmas patch and with recent wins against play-off chasing Burton and league topping Gillingham, as well a solid draw against Exeter, it would seem, logically, that it would be easy for Barnet to beat Aldershot who were one place below them in the League Table. Football can be very unpredictable, however...
                As far as the team line ups were concerned, Davids named a team which contained quite a few changes from the starting eleven against Exeter: Nurse and Weston who’d both come on against Exeter in the second half and made an impact were now starting whilst Elliot Johnson, who, although recently seeming to be coming into his stridet, was replaced by Jordan Brown. Kamdjo still found himself on bench, presumably due to a niggle. Furthermore, there was a familiar name of Michael Hector in the Shots’ lineup who had played for the Bees during a loan spell from Reading. Due to a suspected dislocated shoulder sustained against Exeter, Davids found himself on the touchline and could focus fully on managing the team.
                Straight from the kick off Aldershot had an early chance when one of their players found himself in a one-on-one position only to try and square it to his team mate who was promptly tackled by David Stephens. At around the midway point of the half, Ricky Holmes, who had been looking very lively for the opening fifteen minutes, jinxed his way through numerous white shirts and struck a low, powerful shot that was well saved by Jamie Young. Following on from this, Barnet created another good chance when, after some good link up play between Oster, Yiadom and Weston, the ball fell to Nurse whose shot was saved, once again, by Young and Fuller’s shot off the rebound went well wide. At the end of what was an uneventful half, Stack was forced into a superb double save during added time. 
                The second half did not begin as hoped; in fact it was a disaster. First of all, the Shots were awarded a penalty aftter Stephens was judged to have handled the ball when an Aldershot player fired it at him from point blank range even though it was clearly unintentional. To add to the Bee’s worries, a few minutes later, Nurse made an unnecessarily rash challenge and, correctly got given a red card. Instantly after this sending off, Stack had to make a crucial save to make sure that Barnet had at least a chance in the game. Once the game’s tempo had abated, however, the Bees showed great resilience and, although they were down to ten men, they began to play the best that they had played all game. Holmes was constantly terrorising the Aldershot defence and the whole team generally working well as a unit. Yiadom, on the turn, had his shot saved and Hyde came close. The main drama came when Yiadom neatly played the ball into the path of Holmes, who drilled a low cross which Hyde calmly slotted into the net. It seemed that Barnet had equalised but, just as Hyde was about to start celebrating, the linesman put up his flag for offside. The irate Bees players encircled the linesman, not making any effort to conceal their anger; even the referee had a word with the linesman but, despite all the protests, the goal stood. Many fans were confused by the decision considering that Holmes had cut the ball back when crossing and the linesman had put his flag up so late.
                Just as the game was drawing to an end, there late drama when, in what was the last kick of the game, Stephens connected well to a Byrne cross but, very unluckily, could only hit the post; from the rebound Stack, who had come up for the corner almost snatched a draw but it seemed that it was not to be Barnet’s day and they had to admit to defeat in the end.
                Overall, in spite of the disappointing result, there were spells where Barnet dominated their opponent and looked like a solid mid table outfit but, as a result of some very debatable officiating, they could not get the result that they deserved.

Graham Stack - 8.5:  As good as usual. Almost saved the penalty and made numerous good saves.
Jordan Brown - 6: Generally quite poor. Johnson seems to be better than him.
Andy Iro - 7: Not a bad performance but can be shaky under pressure.
David Stephens - 8: Solid. Almost scored at the end.
Barry Fuller - 6.5: By his own admittance on Twitter, it was not one of his best games. Not disastrous but misplaced a few passes and scuffed a sitter.
Andy Yiadom - 7: Out of position.  Had some good moments but average most of the time.
John Oster - 7: A good performance but seemed to be making more mistakes than usual.
Curtis Weston - 6: Seems more suited to being a impact sub. Did not make an impression.
Ricky Holmes -  9 (MOTM): Did not stop running. Was not scared to take on the Aldershot defenders and constantly posed a threat. Inevitable that he will leave to a better team soon.
Jon Nurse - 3: Stupid challenge to get sent off and was awful while on the pitch.
Jake Hyde - 6: Wasn’t his best performance.

Mark Byrne - 7: Almost scored with looping shot. Some good set pieces when he came on.
Taiwo Atieno - 7.5: Won everything in the air. Should maybe start alongside Hyde.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Gillingham vs Barnet

Summary: Although it may not have been pretty, Barnet came out of this match against league leaders Gillingham one-nil victors in what was a nail biting and memorable match for the Bees. Jake Hyde’s delightful goal from twenty-five yards out in the nineteenth minute proved to be the only difference between the sides and, even though Gillingham provided a late surge of energy in the last half hour, the Barnet defence stood strong with Iro and Stephens making numerous crucial clearances, as well as Stack pulling off a string of classy saves. It would be lying to say that Barnet dominated the match and cruised to victory, especially considering that Gillingham controlled 61% of the possession and, in total, had ten shots on target; nonetheless, the Bees were very committed in how they defended and once they managed to get the ball out of their own half, often played attractive football and quite possibly deserved the victory.
                I was feeling quite pessimistic as I travelled with my friend in the car on the long route down to the Priestfield Stadium; earlier this year, I had witnessed Barnet being whole-heartedly beaten by the Gills 3-1 when Barnet were at home. Logically, therefore, if the Bees had lost that badly with the crowd behind them, how would they fare when playing in front of seven thousand Gillingham fans? Even so, things had changed drastically since these two clubs had last met, such as, most notably, the fact that the world renowned footballer Edgar Davids was now part of the ‘Black and Amber Army’ and I felt that there was a very slight chance that Barnet could produce something very much against the odds.
                After a slightly long and arduous walk from the car to the stadium, we finally arrived at the stadium only to be greeted by a derelict Away Stand which did not look like it had passed its safety checks. In fact it made Underhill’s South Stand almost look upmarket*! To make matters even worse, it did not come with the luxury of a roof, so there was nothing to stop the inevitable rain pouring onto us.
                Once the teamsheets had been read out, my first worry was that Kamdjo was not even on the bench, so I assumed that he must be injured even though Barnet FC had made no announcements earlier in the week concerning the matter. Aside from this, the team seemed to be normal and I was pleased to see that Oster, who has been an influential figure this season, starting. The game began as one would expect from a League Two fixture and it was a rarity for two passes to be strung together. The game began to find its rhythm, however, and, on the nineteenth minute, Hyde received the ball on the half way line and dribbled it towards the edge of the area before unleashing, with great aplomb and panache, a fireball of a shot from twenty-five yards out that tor into the roof of the net. Not even this woke up the Gills who continued playing their direct, long ball game that posed no threat to Stack and simply led to chants from the Away Stand of ‘top of the league, you’re having a laugh’. Barnet, on the other hand, were now playing neat football which was confusing the home team’s defence greatly. Nothing came of all this build up play, though, and Barnet went into half time one-nil to the good with all the away supporters thoroughly satisified with the first forty-five minutes that they had just witnessed.
                Martin Allen must have given his team a very motivational team talk and Gillingham came out of the second half almost a completely different team. By the hour mark it was the team in red and blue that had complete dominance and had it not been for some excellent defending, along with some superb ‘keeping from Stack, Gillingham could have turned the game on its head. Ocassionally, Barnet provided some excitement on the counter attack but these usually came to nothing due to a sloppy pass at the critical moment. Furthermore, the rain was now falling down thick and fast, leaving most supporters looking like they’d just jumped into a swimming pool; it seemed as if Gillingham would grab a last ditch equaliser and, maybe, even go on to win it. The home supporters were beginning to get very vocal, a medley of whistles echoing through the stadium every time Stack took more than ten seconds on his goal kicks. The Away supporters were silent as they watched their team fend off attack after attack. Fortunately, the Bees kept up their stolid defensive display and, in spite of all this pressure, did not crack under the strain and held on by the skin of their teeth for a one-nil win.
                Everyone in the Away Stand was euphoric and almost unbelieving in what had just happened. It was a great moment and was a consolation for all the suffering that Barnet followers have had to endure in recent seasons. Overall, it was a great day out and one to remember!

*I stole this comment from South_Belfast_Bee on
Graham Stack (MOTM) - 9:  Made a number of great saves and seems to be a on a very good run of form.
Elliot Johnson - 7.5: Another promising display. Apart from a few small mistakes he played very well.
Andy Iro - 7.5: His performance against Burton was not received with rave reviews but he had a solid game and did what was needed of him and more.
David Stephens - 8: Constantly stopping Gillingham attacks. A very useful asset.
Barry Fuller - 8: Now one of the most consistent performers in the team who was also useful going forwards.
Andy Yiadom - 7.5: Played well once he had settled into the game. Ran at the defenders with pace.
John Oster - 8.5: An assured figure when on the ball who distributed intelligently and played well with Davids.
Edgar Davids - 7.5: Sometimes off the pace but he linked up well with Oster and played some good balls.
Ricky Holmes: - 7.75: Was very effective in the first half but overdid it a bit in the second half and lost the ball a bit.
Mark Byrne - 7.25: Although anonymous at points, he made some critical challenges.
Jake Hyde - 8.5: Wonderful goal, as well as good hold up play.
Curtis Weston - 7: Didn’t look too bad when he came on but there was not enough time for him to have a major impact.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Barnet vs AFC Wimbledon


Summary: Bees fans will be looking back at this game shaking their heads, knowing that they should have secured the three points. Barnet started off very brightly and, on the first minute, a Ricky Holmes shot was brilliantly saved by Wombles’ keeper Neil Sullivan. Nonetheless, heads did not drop after this great chance went begging, and the Bees continued to be the brighter side. In the second half, Barnet were first to break the deadlock when Hyde, who has been on good form recently, latched onto a Mark Byrne corner and headed the ball into the bottom right hand corner. This is Barnet, however, and an equaliser was inevitable and, in the 84th minute, somewhat fortunately, a deflected Stacey Long shot deflected off Jack Midson and trickled into Stack’s goal much to the home crowd’s annoyance. It was definitely not a game that could be classed as a thriller but there were a fair amount of chances to get excited about. Overall, Bees fans will be thinking that two points were dropped rather than one point gained.

                There was a tense atmosphere at Underhill stadium, with both sets of fans understanding the importance of the game that was about to take place. The first piece of notable news came when the team sheets were read out by the man at the tannoy; George Barker, a loanee from Brighton, was making his debut up front, while Clovis Kamdjo, arguably one of the most solid performers throughout the season, had been dropped in order to make space for the promising Olly Lee to enter the side. Personally, I disagreed with the starting line up: Mark Byrne, who has been out of form lately, was still in the starting eleven, despite missing a significant penalty against Cheltenham two weeks ago and generally not contributing very much whenever he’s played. In addition, Elliot Johnson was making his second start for the club.
`               The Bees started very brightly and within a minute of kick off, after a good piece of play down the right, Holmes fired a shot into the top corner, only for Neil Sullivan to miraculously claw the ball away for a corner. Even so, the Bees kept pressing and it never looked like Wimbledon posed any sort of threat. Conversely, Barnet were keeping their shape well and playing some good football. They kept posing threats to the Wombles’ defence and Elliot Johnson was having a great time at left back, often bombing forwards and creating potential chances. Later on in the half, after a mistake from the Wimbledon centre half, George Barker picked up the ball and managed to slip it to Mark Byrne who scuffed it, from just inside the penalty area, right into the thankful hands of Neil Sullivan.
                The second half did not start as brightly as the first as far as Barnet fans are concerned and Wimbledon had an early chance which was, fortunately, was struck woefully wide from a good position. On the 64th minute, the crowd erupted when Hyde scored off a Byrne corner. It was almost identical to the first goal that Hyde scored against Oxford and, suddenly, beams of optimism seemed to spark out of the fans as they began singing their routine song such as ‘Black and Amber Army’, as well as ‘Super Barnet’.
                Not soon after this goal, Davids, who had performed uncharacteristically through the course of the game, was substituted for Andy Yiadom. After this, Barnet seemed to lose their shape and were in desperate need of a leader who could guide them on the pitch; they lost a lot of their flair which they had previously exhibited and eventually resorted to hoofing the ball aimlessly. Due to this obvious drop in form from the Bees, Wimbledon almost equalised when Luke Moore was gifted a one on one only to hit the side netting.
                Twenty minutes after Barnet had originally broken the deadlock, Wimbledon equalised from a tussle in the penalty area which resulted in the ball going to Stacey Long who’s hopeful shot deflected horribly off Jack Midson - who had a loan spell at Barnet in 2011 - and, after wrong footing Stack, trickled into the goal.
                There was little drama to follow this goal apart from the fact that Olly Lee was replaced by Kamdjo but it was too late and ‘Clovinho’ as he is known by Bee’s supporters was not given enough time to have an impact. Overall, it was quite a disappointing result in what was a must win game and many supporters from both sides came home groaning about the inadequacies of their team’s performance.


Graham Stack: 6 - Apart from their goal had virtually nothing to do; not too much to judge him on.
Barry Fuller: 6.5 - A reliable member of the team but all too often seemed isolated whenever he received the ball and had to punt it down the line.
Elliot Johnson (MOTM): 8.5 - A very assured performance for someone so young and inexperienced. Went up and down the pitch tirelessly and was involved in most of the Bee’s attacks.
David Stephens: 6.5 - Didn’t play badly but sometimes cleared it straight to a Wimbledon player and made a few mistakes.
Krystian Pearce: 7 - A solid performance to mark his last game on loan at Barnet.
Olly Lee: 7 - Distributed the ball well.
Mark Byrne: 5 - Apart from set pieces he did not seem to have too much on his side. When he received the ball he tended to lose it.
Edgar Davids: 6 - Leadership wise he was as good as ever but his feet seemed to be all over the place and he kept misplacing passes.
Ricky Holmes: 7.5 - Was never given much space to run with since he was marked so heavily. Main attacking threat aside from Hyde.
Jake Hyde: 8 - Scored and good at playing the ball on while the Bees were on the attack.
George Barker: 7 - Promising debut. Weaved through the Wombles’ defence effectively although he was sometimes anonymous.


Andy Yiadom: 5 - Didn’t do much when he came on.
Clovis Kamdjo: N/A - Taken on too late.
Melwin Holwijn: N/A - No impact when he came on.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Barnet vs Oxford

Summary: A game which was played at full throttle for the whole ninety minutes resulted in a probably fair two all draw; all the fans present were treated to end to end stuff awash with chances and lone Striker Jake Hyde scoring two. The game started off very brightly for the Bees with Hyde looping a header in from a Mark Byrne cross. Unstirred, the visitors did not waste any time in getting an equaliser and, almost immediately after the restart, Sean Rigg volleyed past Stack with Constable getting the assist. Then, Oxford scored once again, only forty four seconds after the start of the second half when Peter Leven’s free kick was met by the head of Andrew Whing. Nonetheless, Barnet deservedly equalised when, after a mazy run, Ricky Holmes crossed the ball for Hyde to comfortably tap in. There was to be late drama late on, however, when on the third minute of injury time an Oxford header was brilliantly tipped onto the post by Stack before rebounding off the other post and eventually being cleared by Pearce. Drama at its best!
                Barnet were in need of a confidence boost after a 4-1 thrashing to Morecambe on the previous weekend and they got the morale boosting goal that they desperately needed only two minutes into the game when Hyde managed to latch onto a Mark Byrne cross and loop the ball cleverly into the back of the net. Admittedly, it seemed to as if he had tried to play the ball into the middle of the area instead of aiming for goal, but that is irrelevant. This early euphoria was short lived, though, with Oxford striking back almost immediately after the restart through a well executed long ball routine: the ball was thrown deep into the Barnet area and James Constable assisted Sean Rigg who duly volleyed the ball into the bottom left corner. Nonetheless, this setback did not perturb Barnet’s rhythm too much and they continued to dominate the game with John Nurse close to latching onto a low Hyde cross. A few minutes later, another Byrne corner almost caused another goal with a Holmes volley being cleared off the line and then a Kamdjo header knocked away in the same attack. As the half came to an end, Oxford managed to break out of their shell and created a few chances with Simon Heslop coming close in a long range effort that curled away from the top corner.
                Thankfully, Barnet managed to immunise these late Oxford attacks and went into half time with the score level and the Black and Amber army probably the better team. Even with Davids out through suspension, it looked like the Bees were the more likely team to snatch a few goals in the second half.
                Unfortunately, however, Barnet did not come out of the tunnel ready for the second half with all guns blazing and it seemed that the players had been having a nap while Robson and Davids were giving their team talk; only 44 seconds into the second half, Oxford’s Andrew Whing secured his first goal for the club heading past Stack from a Peter Leven free kick. This early shock kicked the Bees back into life and for the next twenty-five minutes they put great pressure on the Oxford defence, constantly attacking. Despite all this pressure, though, they simply could not capitalise on their efforts. Nevertheless, their tribulations finally paid off in the seventieth minute when Holmes went on a characteristic run before crossing it low for Hyde to easily tap in. The win was on. Oxford had different views though and one notable moment was when Pearce scooped the ball into the air towards Stack due to the pressure he was receiving from the Oxford attack; in order not to concede, Stack caught the ball and, to the horror of many Barnet fans the referee called for a back pass. The decision seemed to be very controversial considering that Pearce had only meant to hook the ball away and had not aimed to get it back to Stack but Stack organised a resilient wall and the chance eventually came to nothing.
                After this chance there were few intense moments and when three minutes of extra time were signalled it seemed like the game would finish tepidly. It was Barnet, however, and there seems to always be some sort of commotion in anything they do. On the third minute of injury time, a free kick was swung in and an Oxford player managed to get a strong head on it; the ball looked to be going into the top corner but Stack pulled off a miraculous save and finger-tipped the ball onto the post. The ball then bounced onto the other post before finally being sprayed out by a relived Pearce.
                Overall, it was a great game of football and the result seemed to be a fair one, even if the refereeing decisions were arguable at times!
Graham Stack: 7.5 - Brilliant save at the end to salvage a point. Not at fault for other two goals
Barry Fuller: 7.25 - Has steadily improved to become one of the most reliable members of the squad. Another solid performance.
David Stephens: 7 - Once again, a solid performance. Never lets the side down.
Krystian Pearce: 7 - Same as Stephens.
Jordan Brown: 6.5 - Helped in the build up for the second goal but his place in the squad is now under pressure from the young Elliot Johnson and at times he seemed a bit anonymous in the game.
Andy Yiadom: 7.5 - Had some very promising moments and is still improving. Can see him being a core member of the squad in the future (if he stays at the club).
Mark Byrne: 7 - Got an assist through his corner for his first goal and even if he is still out of form, he’s slowly improving.
Clovis Kamdjo: 7.25 - A very Kamdjo-esque performance but seemed to sometimes make a few silly mistakes. Nonetheless, an integral member of the squad
Ricky Holmes: 7.5 - One of the few players who was risking taking on the opposition players. Caused them problems
Jon Nurse: 6 - Generally anonymous. Had good spells but drifted in and out a lot
Jake Hyde: 8 (MOTM): Scored a double and was involved in quite a lot of link up play. Good to see him relieved of his goal drought.
Olly Lee: N/A - Did not have enough time to prove himself