Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Travelling taking its toll?

20/08/11 – Rotherham – Don Valley Stadium – 310 miles
23/08/11 – Burnley – Turf Moor – 444 miles
27/08/11 – Bradford – Coral Windows Stadium – 392 miles
30/08/11 – Colchester – Weston Homes Community Stadium – 130 miles

So in just 11 days, Barnet fans, players and staff have been travelling a little under 1300 miles. Obviously when the fixture list came out, we could have no complaints about expecting to have two away games in succession – regardless of distance, especially with most teams being ‘out of the way’. But for two cup competitions (the Carling Cup and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy), resulting in a further two away trips to fall in between those two League games is somewhat unfortunate.
For a small squad like ours, with the numerous injuries to players like Darren Dennehy, and Steve Kabba (who should be okay to play on Saturday against Accrington), the three long trips ‘up North’ have been difficult. With fatigue setting in with the countless training sessions and miles racked up, it’s with no real surprise the team have found it difficult to deliver positive results (Colchester aside).
Managing to hold a Championship Burnley side at the end of 90 minutes in the Carling Cup on their turf could well be the highlight of the aforementioned fixtures. Taking them to extra time miles from home, and then having to travel a similar distance three days later for a League 2 fixture, it’s clear that the same energy and determination would be lacking. Which of course was the case in a 4-2 defeat at the hands of (then manager-less) Bradford City. It would probably be wrong to quickly jump to conclusions and say the team weren’t good enough, and although the defending was similar to what we have been used to expect – how many teams of a similar size and calibre could say they’d not fall short?
I’ve not been able to get to any of the games, so thought it’d be interesting to hear the opinions of someone who was; as well as how the team think they’ve coped.

Fan’s view:
4 away games in 10 days is not a usual occurrence – beginning with two league games in a row on the Saturdays were scheduled league games at both Rotherham and Bradford. Our progress in the League Cup gave us another away game at probably the longest unattractive game available in Burnley and in the JPT handed us another away game at nearby Colchester on consecutive Tuesdays.

It is apparent that four away games in such a small amount of time is bound to affect the players mentally and physically. However, in our first two games previously at Morecambe and Portsmouth we put some really impressive performances in and ended up winning both 1-0.
At Rotherham we continued to impress and we really should have won this game in which we mostly dominated. Although it’s also fair to say at the start of this four game away special most would have taken a draw, which is how it ended (2-2).
At Burnley we put another decent performance in but tiredness must have kicked in after the initial 90 minutes, and we lost out in Extra time.
At Bradford after a fairly even first half in the second half we just fell apart some bad defending did not help but you have to wonder had all the travelling had taken its toll on some”.
Thanks to Chris Emery

Player’s view:
We are looking forward to playing in front of our home crowd on Saturday; it’s been a long few days”.
Thanks to Dan Senda, who can be found on Twitter here

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Where are they now? – Part five

There has been somewhat of a delay with the final part of ‘where are they now’ – with the season previews, the new season and everything else. But part five sees the team that managed to preserve League status for second consecutive season, after a 1-0 win at Underhill against Port Vale on the final day of the season. Of course, as is usually the case, we were relying on other results to go our way – and they did with Lincoln losing at home to Aldershot 3-0.

Sam Walker
Young goalkeeper Sam Walker joined Barnet on loan in March of last season, to cover the numerous injuries in that position. He made seven appearances before returning back to his parent club, Chelsea. He’s back on loan for the duration of this season – this time at fellow League 2 club, Northampton Town.
Clovis Kamdjo
Clovis spent his youth career at Reading, and joined the Bees in 2009 after a trial with the club. He made his professional debut in August of the same year, and featured regularly, whilst deputising in the centre of defence for the countless injuries we has during the 2009/10 season. At the end of that same season, he signed an extension on his contract and is still a regular in the heart of the defence.
Daniel Leach
Australian Daniel joined Barnet in 2009 after playing in American University football and moving to England for a trial – and impressing. He joined Non-League Dover Athletic on-loan for a month at the beginning of 2010. When Ian Hendon was sacked at the end of the 2009/10 season, he was released; however, he impressed Mark Stimson whilst on trial and secured himself a new deal. Unfortunately, appearances have been few and far between with long-term injuries; Daniel is still on the club’s books.
Joe Devera
Joe joined the Bees first team squad after being a member of the Protec Youth system. He quickly cemented his place in the squad and over six seasons with the Bees racked up just under 200 appearances. He also won the Player of the Year title for two seasons, firstly in 2007/08 and most recently in 2010/11. He rejected a contract at the end of the season and consequently joined recently relegated, Swindon Town.
Jordan Parkes
Jordan spent most of his career at Watford, but playing on-loan at other clubs including Brentford and Barnet, where he made 10 appearances in 2008. After being released by the Hornets in 2010, he joined the Bees again and has definitely cemented his position in the back four, ever since.
Mark Marshall
Marshall joined Barnet last season, after being released by Swindon Town. Coming through the ranks at non-league Carshalton Athletic, he also played for non-league outfits Grays Athletic and Eastleigh. Since joining the Bees, Marshall has become a popular face in the side and has well warranted his place on the wing – his tricky runs and distribution from crosses being a personal highlight.
Sam Deering
‘Little Sammy Deering’ joined Barnet on loan from fellow League 2 side, Oxford United where he spent the majority of his career; joining them as a youth player in 2006. A loan spell in 2010 and a release from Oxford at the end of the season forced him into a permanent move with the Bees at the end of last season. Like Marshall, LSD is a popular player with fans and his domination of defenders is something to look forward come match time.
Mark Hughes
Mark Hughes joined Barnet in 2009, from Chester City, where he was a regular starter with the club. He’s managed to continue that feat with the Bees and is now, an integral member of the midfield. As well as appearances for the Northern Ireland under 19 team, he has also two full international caps to his name. He is still with the Bees and was the first member of the squad to put his name to paper and commit his future to the club last month.
Mark Byrne
Mark Byrne spent two spells on loan with the Bees last season – joining from parent club Nottingham Forest. He first joined at the start of the season and became a regular face in the midfield line – scoring five times in all competitions (making him the club’s top scorer at the time). Unfortunately his time was cut short, due to injury and he was sent back to the Tricky Trees. However, once fit again he rejoined the club, in March of this year and remained on-loan until the end of the season. After being released by Forest at the end of the season, he joined a two-year deal with Barnet.
Izale McLeod
Probably most well known for his time at MK Dons, where he managed a goal ratio of one every two games – as well as a player of the year award and golden boot award in League 2 for the 2006/07 campaign – Izale McLeod is Barnet’s 23. A million pound move to Charlton in 2007 but countless injuries plagued his time in South London – despite loan spells with Colchester, Millwall and Peterborough. His contract was consequently cancelled in 2010 and unsuccessful trials at the beginning of last season led him to Underhill. He signed a new one-year deal in order to say thanks to the club for getting him back into the game – and it’s safe to say, he could well be back to his best!
Jack Midson
Another loanee from last season was Jack Midson, who like Sam, joined from Oxford United. Only with the club for the last month or so of the season, Jack only made five appearances – the majority of these off the substitutes’ bench. He now plays for newly promoted to the Football League AFC Wimbledon, where he’s made a flying start netting three goals in four games.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Two minutes with... Gillingham

A new feature for my blog is ‘two minutes with…’ – a brief interview with a fan from every club that visits Underhill this season. After missing the defeat to Vale, I am kicking off with Gillingham, Tuesday night’s visitors to North London. The representative is a good friend of mine, Mikey Woods (who you can find on Facebook here).

Barnet 2 – 2 Gillingham
(McLeod ’61 + ‘90+4 – Spiller ‘6, Payne ’73)
Attendance 2466 (away 1052)

How did you get to the game?
We drove up as we normally do. It usually takes around an hour to get to Barnet on the motorway which is convenient.

What did you do pre-match?
We stopped off at South Mimms services to get some food and arrived in Barnet in good time, so had a few pints in the Old Red Lion, a decent pub for away fans and very close to the away entrance.

Where did you sit/stand in the ground?
In the East Terrace, maybe not the best stand in terms of view but away fans are able to generate a good atmosphere there.

What did you make of the game?
From a neutral point of view, it was actually quite an entertaining game of football. In the first half, I felt Gillingham had to better of it, but Barnet came right at us in the second half, and looked to be on top for much of it. They certainly look a different side from the one struggling near the foot of the table last season.

Was the scoreline a fair reflection?
Obviously, I was frustrated to see Gills concede in the 94th minute but on balance, a draw probably was the right result.

Who, in your opinion was man of the match?
It was hard to single anyone out for Gills, and it's probably fair to say Izale McLeod was the best player on the pitch. Always a thorn in our side it seems.

Who have you got next and how do you think you'll get on?
At home to Plymouth next, could be tougher to call than people think. As Plymouth are struggling on and off the pitch, and fighting for points, I have a feeling this could end in a draw, I'm saying 1-1.

Thanks Mikey

My final word:
A draw was definitely the right result in the end. Both goals we conceded were something Barnet fans have become accustomed to - silly defensive lapses, unable to clear the ball from the penalty box when necessary. As it was my first game, it was interesting to see how the new-look Barnet squad would fare in comparison to last season. Man of the match for me was definitely Izale McLeod - with both the goals in the game (the second coming in the fourth minute of added time, with pretty much the last kick!). Deering and Marshall, again, looked threatening down the wings and are bound to frighten defenders this season.

Monday, 15 August 2011

The magic of the game under floodlights

I don’t know about you, but I find there to be something really special about the beautiful game under floodlights. The atmosphere in and around the ground before the game itself is very different; in fact my whole match routine is very dissimilar to that of the average Saturday afternoon. With the visit of Andy Hessenthaler’s Gillingham to Underhill tomorrow night (which coincides with my first game of the season – once again my summer holiday clashed with the start of the season; hey, at least I have a real tan now!), I thought I would look back at my favourite five games from seasons gone by, under the floodlights.

1.    04/09/09
Coca Cola League 2
Northampton Town 1 – 3 Barnet
Sixfields: Northampton away.
The match that saw us go top of the league, albeit over night, as the game was played on a Friday. Undeservedly, we were losing at half time – Town scored after half an hour (against the run of play!). However, three second half goals (all in front of the Bees fans) meant the three points were heading back to North London and jubilation at the final whistle – with “we are top of the league” ringing around the Sixfields complex for minutes after the game. I remember it well – we completely dominated the second half, and to be honest, it could well have been more than three goals! The equaliser was an absolute beauty – a free kick from Ahmed Deen. The second, a volley from Paul Furlong had us all in raptures – another fine goal! And the game was over three minutes later, when after 70 minutes John O’Flynn joined in the scoring – a cheeky shot through the legs of the Cobblers keeper. Again, everyone went mental – and I can remember it clearly as one of my mates was on crutches at the time; the celebrations didn’t do his ankle any favours! It’s a shame the season pretty much went downhill from there, though!

2.    22/01/08
FA Cup Round 3
Barnet 1 – 1 Swindon Town (Barnet win 2 – 0 on penalties)
Fairclough and the team after
beating Swindon on pens.
Certainly a game I’ll always remember, although it can’t be said it was that entertaining – despite over three and half hours of football! For the second season running, a win against higher places opposition meant a place in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Two goals for Billy Paynter – one in each net, in each half – sent the game to extra time and consequently penalties. The win, which amazing considering the difference in leagues of the two teams was made even more note-worthy considering we had 10 men for much of the second half and subsequent play. Michael Leary saw straight red for a challenge on a Swindon player who had to be stretchered off. The penalty shootout will be one I will always remember, although it certainly was no thriller! Swindon missed all of their penalties – and if I am correct, Beckwith made one save with their other attempts going high and wide of the target.  Bristol Rovers (who beat Fulham in their tie – a shame!) at Underhill followed, where a loss incurred.

3.    09/01/07
FA Cup Round 3
Barnet 2 – 1 Colchester United
A fourth round appearance in the FA Cup for the first time in the club’s history awaited as we beat a Championship Colchester side 2-1 at Underhill. Despite the U’s taking the lead, after half an hour of play – through Jamie Cureton of course – there was no real gulf in class between the two sides and we were unlucky to be behind at half time. With the likes of Bailey and Sinclair dominating the centre of midfield with their partnership, it was always obvious we were to equalise – and we did. A deflected goal from centre back Ismail Yakubu on the 62 minute mark and game on for the remaining half hour. From what I can remember it was end to end stuff with chances a plenty for both sides afterwards – the Bees dominating for the next 5 or so minutes after the goal, in the ascendancy. But Lee Harrison in the Barnet goal also was called for a number of saves. The winner came in the 80th minute – Jason Puncheon the hero this time with a 20 yard curler; Dean Gerken had no chance. Plymouth were the visitors in the fourth round, where we were, unfortunately, knocked out.

4.    26/10/05
Carling Cup Round 4
Manchester United 4 – 1 Barnet
Theatre of Dreams: ended up
being a nightmare!
Okay, so not a game we won, but a special occasion nonetheless. The magic of the cup once again pulling out one of those ties smaller teams can only dream about – Manchester United at the theatre of the dreams for us. 4,500 Barnet fans made the journey and the overall crowd was well over 40,000 – twenty times the average amount usually at Underhill on a Saturday afternoon! A game myself, or any other Bee will ever forget – unfortunately, probably for all the wrong reasons! Ross Flitney was sent off within 90 seconds for handling outside the area – with young Louie Soares off and substitute keeper Scott Tynan on, his first job was picking the ball out of the net as United went ahead from a free kick. At half time it was 2-0, with Kieran Richardson  also netting. Things could certainly have been different had Grazioli’s goal after 15 minutes stood, but alas it was offside. Manchester United made their class and extra player count when Rossi scored after 50 minutes. But Dean Sinclair, scoring in front of the United fans got a goal he’ll never forget, pulling back a mere consolation. The match finished 4-1 with Sylvain Ebanks-Blake scoring a minute from time. Despite the scoreline, it was probably one of the best moments of my life and one I’ll never forget. Regardless of all the incident early in the game, the Bees fans never stopped singing and chanting and I’ve never seen an atmosphere like it.

5.    28/09/04
LDV Trophy Round 1
Barnet 3 – 1 Stevenage
A win against your fiercest rivals is always good, no matter what competition it’s in – particularly as it’s a while since we have beat Stevenage! In fact the last time I saw a win against the ‘scum’, I was 14 and it came in the LDV trophy first round, where we won 3-1. With both sides playing weakened sides, it was clear neither was going to take the competition too seriously. The ever-popular Nicky Bailey opened the scoring after the break, from the penalty spot after a foul on him by the Stevenage keeper. Anthony Elding got the equaliser almost instantly for the visitors and despite constant pressure from the Bees afterwards, fair play to the Stevenage keeper that kept them in the game. However, the constant barrage of pressure paid off with Bailey getting on the score sheet again, capping off a man of the match performance – and also preventing the game from going to extra time. Lee Roache completed the rout within the five minutes of injury time, meaning the Bees entered the second round of the cup; as well as having the Hertfordshire bragging rights!