Friday, 23 March 2012

Two minutes with… Dagenham + Redbridge

Tuesday night saw a relegation six-pointer, as the Bees played host to the Daggers. Whilst you can read my match report here, this instalment of ‘two minutes with…’ comes from the point of view of Dagenham fan, Nick.

Barnet 2–2 Dagenham + Redbridge
(McLeod ’30, May ’79 – Spillane ’25, Doe ’72)
Attendance: 1,725 (away: 351)

 How did you get to the game?
As the game was just across London, we opted to go by train. This meant getting the Overground service from Chadwell Heath to Stratford, where we then changed to the tube which would take us to Bank. From there we changed once more to get the Northern Line to High Barnet where we arrived amongst a crowded train at about 6:30pm.
What did you do pre-match?
One of the more appealing choices was the pub that most people go to when playing Barnet, The Red Lion. When coming out of the station we encountered someone with a McDonald’s bag and as we were relatively hungry we headed up Barnet high road in search of the McDonald’s to get something to eat. Not knowing what the food inside Underhill was like it seemed a better idea to stick with something we knew. The majority of Daggers did go in the pub pre-match though.
 Where did you sit/stand in the ground?
 We were located in the East Terrace North and the majority of us had chosen to go on the terrace as it would create a better atmosphere. We ended up standing towards the centre of the whole stand which meant we were close to the more vocal of the Barnet support where there was good banter between both sets of fans. This also meant we were right next to our supporters' drum so it was the more lively section of our support.
 What did you make of the game?
 It was a bit scrappy in all honesty, you could tell that these were two teams towards the wrong end of the table. Both defences made several mistakes which highlighted why we both are where we are. In the first half however, we dominated and should have been two or three up before Barnet got their equaliser.
Just before the Barnet equaliser we had the chance to perhaps seal the game, but Baudry & Akinde both hit the bar from headers from inside the box. An individual error lead to the Barnet goal, but fair play to McLeod, he finished the chance off which is why he's top scorer – he gets the chances and finishes them, something our strikers haven't done enough this season.
In the second half though, Barnet were out of the traps first and Ricky Holmes caused all kinds of problems cutting in down the right side. Poor marking from Barnet gave us the lead once more as the infamous Scott Doe front post header paid dividends. Just as I thought we may be able to close the game out, our ‘keeper makes a howler as Ben May wheels away in celebration, leaving us all shell-shocked and in some awe.
After that it was pretty scrappy with neither side really making inroads into taking the lead.
Was the scoreline a fair reflection?
There’s an argument for either case. Personally I thought we were worthy of all three points, especially after the first half performance, however our lack of potency in front of goal has cost us again. You can see why Barnet are above the drop zone when your star striker gets one opportunity and he makes the most of it. We were punished, although the Lewington error is just a freak goal really. I think we were worthy of all three, but there is definitely an argument for the draw as in all honestly, you could tell both sides were languishing at the bottom end of the table.
Who, in your opinion was man of the match?
For Dagenham it would almost certainly be Mickey Spillane. He was playing in a somewhat unnatural centre midfield role, but excelled there. He was able to go on a couple of runs and get himself out of tight situations with some very neat footwork, not only that but his eye for a pass on Tuesday night was second to none. My final point about Mickey was his eagerness to get to the ball, he was always going in for the challenges which is what you want from a player.
From a Barnet viewpoint, one player that stands out as someone that caused the Daggers back line persistent problems was Ricky Holmes. His trickery and pace down the wing had the full backs in a fluster; it’s just a pity that his final ball was really lacking when it was needed most.
Who do you play next and how do you think you'll get on?
Next up for us is Accrington Stanley at home on Saturday. In the reverse fixture in November which I attended at The Crown Ground, we went down 3-0, so hopefully it won’t end up like that this time around. We have only beaten Accrington once at home since we formed in 1992, so that’s something that will need to change for us to get ourselves out of the bottom two come 17:00 Saturday evening. Personally, if we can play with the same tempo and urgency on Saturday, I’d take a draw.

Thanks Nick

You can follow Nick on Twitter: @NickDRFCMurphy and also check out his blog, for all things D+R: ‘The Daggers Scale’.

Match Report: Barnet 2–2 Dagenham + Redbridge (Barnet Fan’s Perspective)

It was 20th v 24th in League Two on Tuesday night, as Barnet played hosts to Dagenham + Redbridge in a relegation six-pointer. Although it ended up two goals apiece, it was by no means a thriller, with some desperate defending at times. Neither team really attempted to play the ball on the ground, particularly in its closing stages and it was mainly scrappy in midfield.
Dean Brill was recalled in the Barnet goal, with Liam O’Brien dropped to the bench, following some costly mistakes in the defeat to Morecambe last Saturday; Kamdjo was called into the centre of midfield, a move that saw Sam Deering on the bench.
As is the case recently, the home side started brightly: McLeod and May both should have taken their chances – the Daggers’ defence showing those low levels on confidence you’d expect from a team bottom of the league. And May could have so easily broken the deadlock had his header not been cleared off the line by Damien McCrory – the home fans behind the goal in the south end of the ground believed the ball had crossed the line.
It was the away fans to cheer next, again for a chance that so easily might have been: the opportunity falling to them in the opening 20 minutes, when Jon Nurse running in from the right wing took a shot. He, like the Daggers’ faithful, thought he hit the back of the net – only the side netting..!
But it was Dagenham who made the breakthrough: a sliced free kick allowed Medy Elito to show some skill by the corner flag, before delivering a tempting cross into the box and allowing Mickey Spillane to head home – a free header. From a Barnet point of view, Elito shouldn’t have been allowed to get the cross in, he was marked by two defenders.
Barnet 0–1 Dagenham + Redbridge (Spillane ’25)
The visitors were on top following their goal, hitting the woodwork twice in quick succession, but Barnet battled strongly in order to get that equalising goal. It finally came five minutes after going behind: McLeod timing his run to perfection and lobbing Chris Lewington in the visitors’ goal.
Barnet 1–1 Dagenham + Redbridge (McLeod ’30)
A draw at half time was a fair reflection, with both teams creating chances and scrapping for their lives. It was obvious at the beginning of the second half that both sides would try their hardest to regain the lead and get those all important three points – whether that be through a defensive mistake, or much-needed stroke of luck.
Despite playing up the slope in the second period, Barnet created opportunities – however, nothing to really test the Dagenham keeper. The game become a tough-fought battle in the middle of the park, Mark Hughes, a particular highlight for the home side, displaying a battling mentality, with a number of well-timed challenges.
With the game looking like it could still go either way, the away side regained the lead. Another cross into the box, and another header – this time Scott Doe with the killer blow.
Barnet 1–2 Dagenham + Redbridge (Doe ’72)
With 18 minutes remaining, and Daggers in the lead, as things stood both teams would be on equal points. 
But again the Bees showed that fighting spirit much needed when at the wrong end of the table, and came level after being behind for a second time in the game. Ben May with a shot from distance – Daggers complained it was a poor goal to concede with their keeper’s positioning at fault.
Barnet 2–2 Dagenham + Redbridge (May ’79)
At the end of the day, a draw was probably a fair result, with mistakes from both sides costing each other those three vital points.
It’s another six-pointer for the Bees as they head to the Moss Rose to play Macclesfield on Friday night.

Attendance: 1,725 (away: 351)

Starting line-ups:
Barnet – Brill; Hector, Downing, Dennehy, Mustoe; Byrne, Hughes, Kamdjo, Holmes; McLeod, May

Dagenham + Redbridge – Lewington; McCrory, Arber, Baudry, Spillane; Elito, Doe, Parker, Ogogo; Nurse, Akinde

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Pre-Dagenham thoughts (20.03.12)

Following on from the Look Black n Amber exclusive earlier in the week, here’s the next piece from my portfolio, found in the Matchday Programme on Tuesday night. The opponents: Dagenham + Redbridge.

“Good evening.
Saturday’s game against Morecambe was a real game of two halves. At the end of the match we were very disappointed to come away with nothing. First half playing down the slope I thought we really took the game to them; we passed it around well and created enough chances to have it wrapped up by half time. As is the case at the moment, it only took Morecambe one opportunity to score at the end of the first 45 minutes. From our point of view, it was another sloppy goal to give away, and at the end of the day, that one mistake really cost us.
From going goals behind in the past, we’ve had the ability to turn it around and when you have attacking players of our quality, there is always a threat there. When Morecambe got their second though, it was simply a case of game over. At full time we were all aware that our second half performance wasn’t good enough – despite Morecambe defending well, we were too flat – and we simply can’t be making those kind of errors anymore. We now need to put that match behind us and move forward and what better opportunity than in front of the home crowd tonight in a six pointer against Dagenham and Redbridge.
Six of our final nine games including tonight are at home, and despite our away performances being better this season, we need to somehow turn that around and give our fans something to shout about at Underhill. We all know we need to make home advantage count, as every point at this stage of the season is vital. We went out with that mindset on Saturday and weren’t able to deliver the goods, so tonight is a good opportunity to put things right. I can’t put my finger on why our away performances have been better, but it started back earlier in the season with our cup runs. The fact is, we do need to do better at home, and like I said, what better time than tonight – at this stage of the season, one good result can turn our luck around and with the fans behind us, we can gain momentum.
As I’ve said in previous notes, playing well for 45 minutes doesn’t count for anything when we leave games without a point; we need to start playing consistently well for the entire match, take our chances and ultimately cut out any silly mistakes, particularly when defending.
Our next two games are huge: tonight against Dagenham and then Macclesfield away on Friday night. Depending how we fare points-wise at the end of the week, it’s fair to say those results alone will either make it a lot easier or a lot more difficult in terms of our scrap down the bottom. Our situation at present is a lot better than it was earlier in the season – we’ve not been in the bottom two for a while, and there are a lot more teams struggling this year. That alone gives us the confidence to press on, and with such a young side, we know we really need to push away from the wrong end of the table. We need to be the top side in the bottom six or seven – it’s almost like a mini-league down there!
We’re expecting a tough test tonight from Dagenham, because of course they are down there too, and scrapping for their lives. They won at the weekend, so I’m sure that’ll give them confidence going into tonight’s game. We have to not let that bother us, and although it’s bound to be a scrappy and hard-fought game, we have to go into it with a positive attitude. We have a new threat in Ben up front and I’m sure they’ll be aware of him and his presence. He’s another option for us – on Saturday he showed how good he is in the air. Going forward we look dangerous, so really need to cause problems for the Dagenham defenders, but of course it will be a case of taking chances.
I’m aware at the moment that the fans come away from games as disappointed as us players, but we really need everyone to get behind us. We know we aren’t the worst, or even second worst side in the League and we can get out of it again – with the support of everyone at the ground. I’ve said it before, but the positivity and support during the game really do affect the lads on the pitch and can make all the difference so please continue to back us. By sticking together, we will turn it around, beginning tonight, which is a massive game for everybody concerned.
Enjoy the game”

Mark Hughes was talking to Lucy Waldon

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Match Report: Barnet 0–2 Morecambe (Barnet Fan’s Perspective)

Saturday 17th March 2012
Underhill Stadium
Barnet started the game the brighter of the two, with Ben May (on loan from Stevenage) partnering Izale McLeod up front for the first time. For long periods of the first half, in fact, the home side dominated – Mark Byrne going closest in the opening 10 minutes, before another opportunity for the midfielder arrived, from a free-kick – but the away side also caused the Bees’ defence problems as they went forward.
McLeod then had a goal ruled out for offside, with just under half an hour on the clock, but Barry Roche was easily the busier of the two keepers. Before the end of the first 45 minutes, Barnet continued to press and rally forward at every opportunity, displaying one of the better performances of late – it was hard to see the gulf between the two sides, in terms of positions in the League. Byrne again should have done better with what could have been a great goal; on a different day, or with more confidence, he’d have hit the back of the net. Holmes and McLeod, too, had opportunities which should have seen them on the score sheet.
And, unfortunately, it was the visitors that were to go into the break ahead, when, with two minutes remaining, Kevin Ellison scored. A slip from Michael Hector allowed Stewart Drummond through on goal and although his shot was saved by Liam O’Brien, the ball was spilt straight into the path of Ellison, who converted a simple tap-in.
It was a real case of one shot, one goal, as the goal was completely against the run of play, but was merely a much-needed wake-up call for the Barnet defence to stop conceding such unnecessary goals. Despite conceding late on, it was a positive performance in the first half; the necessity to take chances was a real lesson. But when you’re at the wrong end of the table though, that bad luck seems to rear its ugly head!
Half Time: Barnet 0–1 Morecambe (Ellison ’43)
After such a valiant and pleasing performance in the first half, Barnet fans were right to feel disappointed and angered with what was an unacceptable second half display. Morecambe dropped the tempo, when necessary and saw the game out to their strengths, preserving their lead. Barnet looked lifeless and flat – with no real urgency or desire to take the game to the visitors. There was no ‘plan b’ or attempt to try and change the result, or predicament the Bees currently find themselves in.
In fact, it’s fair to say the Shrimps dominated the second half and it’s clear their second goal killed the game off – they simply didn’t allow the home side a foot-hole in the game.
There were a couple of chances for the Bees to equalise in the opening stages of the second half: Byrne and May squandering opportunities. An excellent goal from the visitors’ Jack Redshaw settled the score and the away side never looked as if they’d give up their two-goal advantage!
And Morecambe could have so easily been further ahead, the crossbar coming to the Bees’ rescue with only a few minutes remaining. Lewis Alassandra’s shot thundered against the woodwork, with Barnet’s defence hapless.
A real Jekyll and Hyde performance from the hosts in front of an infuriating home crowd. Following the second half display, though, Barnet can’t be disappointed to leave the game with nothing.
Full Time: Barnet 0–2 Morecambe (Ellison ’43, Redshaw ’63)

Attendance: 1,536
Starting line–ups:
Barnet – O’Brien; Hector, Downing, Dennehy, Mustoe; Byrne, Hughes, Deering, Holmes; McLeod, May
Morecambe – Roche; Parrish, McCready, Haining, Reid; Hunter, Drummond, McDonald, Ellison; Burrow, Redshaw

Monday, 19 March 2012

Pre-Morecambe thoughts (17.03.12)

So for those of you that don’t know, from time to time I get the opportunity to interview the Barnet captain to get his thoughts leading up to our next home game. It’s been a great chance to showcase some of the skills I learnt whilst studying for a journalism degree, as well as doing something that not only interests me, but is also a passion of mine. I started helping out last season, when our captain was Glen Southam. This season, our captain is Mark Hughes. Here is my first instalment for Look Black n Amber – seen in the match day programme for the Morecambe game last Saturday.

"It seems a while since we played Rotherham at home, with a couple of away games in the meantime. I thought we started that game well, creating chances and we got the early goal through Byrner. At the end of the first half though, having such a narrow lead always means you’re prone to throw that away, and had we been further ahead at the break, I think we would have got all three points. With Ricky and Izale in the side, always going forward, we had a fair few opportunities to extend our lead. As it was, Rotherham had a good spell in the second half, getting that equalising goal, and once we got reduced to ten men the game clearly swung in their favour. It was definitely a game of two halves. At the end of it though, I think we were all happy to get a point – they put us under the cosh a fair bit – but I think we played well with a man down, especially given the way we capitulated against Bradford previously.
We went into the Gillingham game the following Tuesday feeling positive and confident. Again, I believe we started well and created chances – when you have players of our quality going forward, you’re always more than capable of getting goals! Again we went into the break with a narrow one-goal lead, despite having chances to kill the game off before half time. Gillingham are a good side going forward, and there always seems to be a hatful of goals in their games. Once they got their equaliser quickly in the second half, we flapped a bit. Our heads didn’t drop when they got their second, but after scoring a third in quick succession it was definitely game over! Like the rest of the squad, I was frustrated at the end of the game because we hadn’t played badly, in fact I think it was one of our better performances of late – the scoreline definitely didn’t reflect the way we played!
We went into Saturday’s game against Port Vale knowing we needed to forget about the defeat at Priestfield, and if we played half as well as that, would be likely to get a result. We hadn’t been in good form, so to win our first game since the end of January was such a relief, and a real confidence boost for the boys! It’s always nice to score a winner in the final minutes of a match, and given the manner we have been conceding recently, it was good to finally have that little bit of luck. Ben scored on his debut, but I’d like to say congratulations to Andy for getting his first goal for the club – he came off the bench and was in the right place at the right time, with his first touch of the game! Hopefully now they’ll both get a couple more goals as well.
With Ben in the side now, and a couple of the youngsters coming off the bench, there is definitely competition in the side for places. We didn’t know until Friday that Ben was joining us – I’m not sure how long he’d known either. He was on the bench on Wednesday for Stevenage, so it was a case of White Hart Lane to Vale Park in four days. But we were all delighted he managed to get on the score sheet in his first game, and I’m sure he was as well – particularly on his birthday! He just wants to get the opportunity to play first team football.
We are expecting a test today against Morecambe; they’re a big, strong side with tonnes of experience, whereas we are a much younger side with players wanting to prove themselves. That doesn’t make them better than us though. We won 1-0 in the reverse fixture so I’m sure they’ll be looking to put one over on us this afternoon. Hopefully Pricey doesn’t cause us too many problems after Obita scored for Gillingham in that midweek game, although he’ll be wanting to show what the club missed out on! Going into games, we always look at how we fared in the previous match, so to win and ‘do the double’ over Morecambe would be very pleasing. A win would see us hit the 40 point marker, which would also drag a couple of teams back into the scrap again.
Enjoy the game"

Mark Hughes was talking to Lucy Waldon

Monday, 5 March 2012

Match Report: Barnet 1–1 Rotherham United (Barnet Fan’s Perspective)

After the shambles that was Tuesday night, it was important for the Bees to completely forget about that debacle, regroup and start again; they were playing hosts to Andy Scott and his decent Rotherham side. It was a year ago this very weekend both teams played out a bore draw, 0-0 at the Don Valley, and although it was a point a-piece again, this time round at Underhill, there was a certainly a lot more action – you could say it was a real game of two halves!
Barnet were forced into changes: Darren Dennehy’s red card against Bradford in the week and subsequent three match ban meant Clovis Kamdjo gave up his role in the centre of midfield to join the back four and fans’ favourite, Scott McGleish (on a one month’s loan from Bristol Rovers) started alongside Izale McLeod and Ricky Holmes – playing in a 4-4-3 formation.

It was a frantic opening five minutes with the home side straight out of the traps, and McLeod went close early on. But the opening goal came on seven minutes – Mark Byrne with a right-footed free kick which evaded everyone in the penalty area and nestled straight into the bottom corner.

Barnet 1–0 Rotherham (Byrne ’7)
It had been a while since the Bees had scored first and the early strike settled any nerves. It was obvious that confidence amongst the side was low following the last couple of defeats so the goal proved to be a bit of a boost.

However, the Millers responded well to going behind, and Liam O’Brien who retained his place in goal was called upon, keeping out a well-hit volley from Danny Harrison. It was a midfield battle with both teams trying to attack, and with both teams having chances it was obvious that the next goal would determine the way the game was going to go – one for the home side, and they’d manage to defend a two-goal cushion, but an equaliser for Rotherham, and who knows what’d happen – the game would really be in the balance!
And it was Barnet that could have so easily been two goals to the good approaching half time: Ricky Holmes with another excellent cross that somehow missed everyone, including the outstretched leg of man of the match, Sam Deering. Barnet went into the break feeling confident and looking good value for their lead.

Andy Scott made two substitutions at half time with Ben Pringle and Danny Schofield coming on and it was the former that ran the second half for the visitors.
Pringle got the equaliser for Rotherham within five minutes of his introduction, picking up a cross and driving the ball past O’Brien, with what was his first touch.

Barnet 1–1 Rotherham (Pringle ’50)
With Rotherham back in the game, they increased the pressure in an attempt to get the winner. Their chances were made easier with half an hour of play remaining when Barnet were a man-down (for the second time in two matches). Paul Downing, the offender – his first yellow for kicking the ball away, and given his marching orders for a foul on Paul Warne. The majority of home fans believed the decision to be unjust, but he’d made a bad challenge previously, and when you’re already on a yellow, you can’t just jump into rash challenges.

Even a man light, the Bees continued to battle and the performances of Deering and Holmes, given the situation, were a joy to behold; the latter was eventually substituted, much to the frustration of the home faithful. Playing in a 4-4-1 formation with McLeod the loan target, Barnet rallied, but there weren’t many chances of note for either side.
A draw was a fair result and whilst Barnet can be happier with their display this weekend, particularly with 10 men, Rotherham can possibly feel aggrieved for not making their man advantage count. Barnet play Gillingham at Priestfield next, on Tuesday.
Attendance: 1,765 (away: 284)

Starting line-ups:
Barnet – O’Brien; Kamdjo, Hector, Downing, Mustoe; Deering, Hughes, Byrne; McLeod, McGleish, Holmes

Rotherham – R.Taylor; Mullins, Raynes, Griffiths; Bradley, Cadogan, Harrison, J.Taylor, Wood; Revell, Harrad

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Two minutes with… Rotherham United

With two matches at Underhill this week, Rotherham were the visitors on Saturday afternoon – and it was exactly this weekend a year ago that we played them at the Don Valley. It was a boring 0–0 that day, and it was a point a-piece again, with the scores level at 1–1. Rotherham fan, Dean, shares his match experience and thoughts post-game this time round. You can follow Dean on Twitter @deano83rufc. And for anyone interested in news on the Millers as well as pictures of their new stadium which is due to open in July, follow @rotherhammad or visit ‘MillersMad’, where Dean is Co-Editor.

Barnet 1–1 Rotherham United
(Byrne ’7 – Pringle ’50)
Attendance: 1,765 (away: 284)

How did you get to the game?
We travel by coach to most matches on our own organised bus, and yesterday was no different. Departure from the Colin pub in Kimberworth, Rotherham at 9.30am, arriving at Underhill around 12.45pm after a half hour stop on the way down to get fed and watered!

What did you do pre-match?
We usually go in The Old Red Lion with it being the closest pub, but took a walk down to the Queens Arms to watch the Liverpool/Arsenal clash and have three pints of lager. There was a healthy mix of both sets of fans, including a few in Arsenal shirts too. It was my 5th visit to Barnet and it’s always a relaxed day out.

Where did you sit/stand in the ground?
I stood about halfway along the Central East Terrace – there was just short of 300 of us there – but as usual it’s a decent stand for atmosphere with the low roof to keep the noise in. We'd taken advantage of the Sun tickets token offer, so bought two for £19.50, can't go wrong!

What did you make of the game?
In the first half Rotherham were poor kicking down the slope, with the wind too. Byrne's early free kick set us back a bit but the double change at the break gave us a kick start. Pringle took his goal nicely but a draw was probably a fair result; however, disappointed not to win with the poor run Barnet have been on. Pretty much the story of our season though, inconsistency!

Was the scoreline a fair reflection?
As I said, 1-1 was about right and it was interesting to see two 38 year-olds on the field in Warne and McGleish!

Who, in your opinion was man of the match?
In a scrappy game I thought Ben Pringle was our shining light even though he only figured down the left for 45 minutes.

Who do you play next and how do you think you'll get on?
We take on Crewe at the Don Valley on Tuesday night. Nothing less than a win will do to get back into the play-off race, but I'll go 1-1 again!

Thanks Dean

Friday, 2 March 2012


It’s been a while since I’ve felt this strongly compelled to vent my frustrations; in fact it was subsequent to an awful defeat and performance against a pretty poor Northampton side. The match against Bradford on Tuesday night has quite frankly forced me to this little (or not so little!) moan – it could have easily turned me to depression or alcoholism! After working nine ‘til five on Tuesday at my place of temporary/part time work, I was to attend the game at Underhill – it was a busy day, and with only a 20 minute break during the eight hour shift, I was absolutely exhausted – and let’s face it, the last thing I’d have wanted is to go and watch Barnet play, particularly given their recent run of results. I’m not alone, gone are the days I really look forward to the weekend, namely Saturday afternoon – football just spoils it these days, and games like Tuesday night, frankly, ruin the entire week! I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of the game (mainly because you can find them here!) but I’ve run out of the words describe how absolutely awful (and awful is an understatement!) the performance was!

I know I’m not the only one to notice them, as I constantly hear people shouting various opinions throughout the game, in frustration. For some time now, though, there have been a number of points bugging the life out of me. So here goes:

·         Play to our strengths
I can’t help but think Sanchez has no idea how to utilise our best players, starting with playing them in their rightful positions. We have the likes of Sam Deering and (when he’s not playing alongside or behind McLeod) Ricky Holmes on the wings. To the people that say Deering isn’t a winger, I’d like to throw you this question: what is he? I certainly wouldn’t play him in the middle of the field, partly due to his height. He’s quick footed and loves to run at defenders, so why can’t the ball get played wide more often than straight through the middle? Too many times I’ve seen a handful of players on both sides bunched up in the middle, where it becomes scrappy and there’s a higher chance of losing possession. Get it out wide, allow the players to have their creative freedom and do their thing. For me, Sam was one of the best players last season, and Ricky recently hit some decent form too.

·         Long ball doesn’t work
And it has never worked, so give it up. Two obvious reasons for this one. One: lumping the ball forward to McLeod is an absolute waste of time because he will either be offside, foul the defender or not even bother jumping for the ball and allow the defender to clear, and the opponent to counter-attack (and probably score!). Two: the average height of our midfield is 5’8; we have: Holmes (5’8), Deering (5’5), Hughes (5’10) and Byrne (5’9) – and yes, I don’t believe these are correct, either! Really, what are the chances of any of them winning an aerial ball? Play it to feet, that way, possession isn’t needlessly lost. It can’t be that hard surely!?

·         Endear yourself
You haven’t got to be the greatest tactician, but if the fans love you, then half the battle is won. I mean a lot of my favourite players weren’t the greatest to ever don the black and amber, but they were decent people, and professionals. Snide comments to the media about vacant job opportunities, other managers failures and downfalls isn’t really going to help, is it? Neither is refusing to speak to the media, or giving the fans an explanation for losses and more importantly, dire performances. After all it is the average fan that pays good money for the match day experience, only to have to sit and watch the garbage you put on display – with no sign of remorse, post match. And don’t even get me started on the arrogance and feeling of ‘I’m better than this’ in standing with an expression-less face on the touchline, with arms folded, or hands in pockets – conveying a real sense of ‘can’t be bothered’. Just ugh.

·         Have a voice, be motivational
If you’re going to give off this whole ‘I cannot be bothered’ vibe, the chances are, it’ll rub off onto the players as well. Too many times of late I’ve seen players walking around the pitch, or worse, standing still doing nothing, expecting someone else to put the work in. Then there’s players constantly blaming everyone except themselves, shouting at each other (and by that, I don’t mean constructively…) and worse, like on Tuesday, a case of ‘handbags’! As manager surely, you have to take some kind of responsibility and have a level of control; the team obviously lack some form of discipline. This can only be reinforced by two red cards in quick succession to the same player: for spitting and kneeing. And like the case of Tuesday, going a goal and a man down early on, you have to say something to your squad to motivate them, heads are likely to drop. It’s no real surprise morale is low at current. To not say a single word is absolutely laughable. Except it just isn’t funny. Another point on Tuesday: even at three goals up, Phil Parkinson continued to bark orders at his team, getting increasingly over-animated; guess who meanwhile wasn’t doing an awful lot at all (unless you count hiding in the dugout)?

And a final couple of pointers:
·         Have a plan B
·         Have a plan C
·         And if all else fails, have a plan D!

At the time of writing this (on Wednesday, by hand – I’m a bit of  freak that likes to sketch stuff out first before typing; yes it is twice the work, but never mind…), I was looking forward to the next time I'd write when I’d hopefully have something positive to say. Today (Thursday night, as I type, although I’m sure you’ll be reading this on or after Friday!) I do: SCOTT MCGLEISH IS REJOINING US ON A MONTH’S LOAN! I fell in love with him aged seven, and he will always be the player I remember most from childhood. I’m not even sure what it was about him, but it may have been the goal celebration. As a kid, I watched the somersaults in awe! Anyway, I think he’s a bit of a club legend, and despite his age (38!), I hope he’ll instil some experience into the squad, even if he does end up appearing like he’s past it!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Match Report: Barnet 0–4 Bradford City (Barnet Fan’s Perspective)

Bradford went out resounding winners at Underhill last night, in what was being described as a “six-pointer”. Unfortunately for Barnet, more energy was displayed in the away team’s choice of kit as the Bantams looked pretty in pink.
The scoreline, which for those that didn’t know, read Barnet 0–4 Bradford gives a real honest reflection on the match. I heard people saying in the 15/20/30/40 years of watching Barnet, they’ve never seen a display like that. I’ve honestly run out of words to describe how pathetic, abject and frankly embarrassing the performance was. Instead, I’ll just sum-up the action.
Bradford came straight out of the traps and settled quickly into the game, testing Liam O’Brien (replacing Dean Brill) in the Barnet goal from the off. Desperate last-ditch tackles from centre back, Darren Dennehy, prevented City going ahead on two occasions in the opening 10 minutes. Unfortunately it wasn’t third time lucky as on 16 minutes he was sent off for fouling Craig Fagan. I couldn’t see an awful lot from where I was sat, but apparently he was the last man, and by the letter of the law, had to go. So the Bees were to play the final 75 minutes with 10 men and Fagan duly stepped up to take the spot kick.
Barnet 0–1 Bradford (Fagan, ’17)
Clovis Kamdjo, yet again got forward at every set-piece opportunity and a long throw from Mark Byrne, into the box, could have resulted in an equalising goal on another day. As it was, Clov’s header went wide. Instead, the Bantams went straight down the other end of the pitch and scored their second – an excellent cross from Kyel Reid for Jamie Atkinson to steer home, whilst the Bees’ defenders stood out of position and watched each other, rather than the flight of the ball or the opponent.
Barnet 0–2 Bradford (Atkinson, ’37)
I’m not sure what Sanchez said to the team at halftime, but whatever it was, it had no real impact. Bradford were easily in control for the whole of the second period: keeping possession, attacking at will and really making the extra man count.
Kyel Reid then netted his first, and Bradford’s third with a marvellous solo effort – picking the ball up on the wing before driving past two Barnet defenders and slotting it past O’Brien into the bottom corner. The keeper had no chance.
Barnet 0–3 Bradford (Reid, ’58)
With 15 minutes of time remaining, the home side finally had two attempts on target in quick succession – both were met with sarcastic applause and cheers from the crowd. The first by Izale McLeod was a lazy toe punt, hit with no real strength or effort, and the second by the usually quick and creative Sam Deering was a low attempt, again a tame shot, not even testing the Bradford keeper.
But the goals continued for the away side with only two minutes of the 90 left: a long ball from Rob Kozluk was met by Nahki Wells, who managed to stay on-side before rounding O’Brien and having the easiest of finishes into an empty net.
Barnet 0–4 Bradford (Wells, ’88)
The drama didn’t end there though, as before kick-off could commence, words were exchanged between McLeod and on-loan Reading defender, Michael Hector. With arms raised and team-mates trying to separate them, both received a yellow for their ‘handbags’. A bit of much needed entertainment for the Bees’ faithful, but added embarrassment, as if the performance hadn’t been enough. No real strategy, motivation or leadership.
Play-off hopefuls, Rotherham, come to Underhill on Saturday – can anyone else hardly wait..?
Attendance: 1,309
Starting line-ups:
Barnet – O’Brien; Hector, Downing, Dennehy, Saville; Deering, Hughes, Kamdjo, Byrne; Holmes, McLeod
Bradford – McLaughlin; Oliver, Kozluk, Seip, Davies; Flynn, Jones, Ravenhill, Reid; Smalley, Fagan