Sunday, 27 January 2013

League Two round-up: 26/01/13

While it was another weekend of FA Cup action with teams playing for a place in the fifth round, it was business as usual in League Two. With Aldershot still in the Cup, Cheltenham and Rochdale meeting last night (in a game that finished 0-0) and Wycombe’s trip to Bradford postponed due to a frozen pitch, it was up to the 14 teams in action to play for what were, in many cases, some much needed points. Exeter and Torquay also meet tomorrow as they top the bill on Sky’s Monday Night Football programme.
Back to Saturday’s games and the surprise of the day came at the New York Stadium where Rotherham hosted the league’s bottom side, Bristol Rovers. John Ward’s strugglers made it back-to-back wins and move off the foot of the table after securing three vital points. The Gas took the lead late in the first half from the spot – Claude Davis bundled over Ryan Brunt in the box and Lee Brown converted the consequent penalty. Before the half time whistle, things got worse for Rotherham as Davis, the earlier offender, was shown a second yellow and received his marching orders on his debut. Rovers made their man advantage count and doubled their lead seven minutes into the second period through Ellis Harrison’s solo effort. Joe Ansinyah increased the visitors’ advantage before substitute David Noble scored what was to prove no more than a consolation for The Millers. Defeat leaves Steve Evans’ side outside the playoffs on goal difference – Southend and Fleetwood also sit on 43 points.
There was also a big win for Fleetwood who put an end to Oxford’s run of eight games unbeaten. Jamille Matt opened the scoring but it’s unknown how much he really knew about it. With Michael Raynes’ desperate to clear it, the ball ricocheted off the record signing, deceiving Wayne Brown in the process. Two second half strikes for the hosts killed the game off: Ryan Crowther’s first goal for the Cod Army doubled their advantage and Jon Parkin rounded things off with his tap in, late on.
Gillingham missed out on the opportunity to go top of League Two, with Port Vale not in action this weekend. Despite scoring both goals, they had to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw against York. Gills’ midfielder Charlie Lee put through his own net to gift the Minstermen the lead at Priestfield. Cody McDonald rejoined Gillingham on loan earlier in the week (this time from Coventry) and opened his account in his first game back when he levelled the scores five minutes from time. Despite being a point behind Vale, Martin Allen’s men still have a game in hand.
Morecambe went behind against Dagenham & Redbridge but, come the end of the game, went home with maximum points. After a goalless opening period, the Daggers took a second half lead through Luke Wilkinson’s header. Two goals in as many minutes then swung the game in the visitors’ favour but they left it late with the equaliser coming with under 10 minutes left to play. First Stewart Drummond’s 12-yarder levelled the scores before Ryan Williams’ curling effort secured the victory. Dagenham’s loss sees them drop a place, while the Shrimps move up two places to 16th.
There were also narrow victories for Burton and Southend in League Two this weekend. A fourth minute penalty separated Burton and Barnet, who were without player/manager Edgar Davids following his decision to stay in London due to illness. The Bees’ Barry Fuller upended Jacques Maghoma and the midfielder stepped up and converted the spot kick. Barnet are now only a point safe of danger; the Brewers remain in the playoffs. Elsewhere Southend left it late to earn all three points – also ending their run of three games without a win. Gavin Tomlin broke the deadlock in the 83rd minute to snatch a late victory.
In the League’s only other fixture this weekend, the points were shared between Plymouth and Accrington as they played out a stalemate at Home Park. The game’s main talking point was the injury to Stanley’s midfielder Nicky Hunt who was knocked unconscious following a collision with Ronan Murray. With a large amount of time added on at the end of the game, Hunt stayed overnight in hospital having been out cold on the pitch for 10 minutes.
As well as the Devon derby on Monday night there are also games on Tuesday with Gillingham hosting Northampton and Burton’s trip to Oxford. Friday night sees Bristol Rovers host fellow strugglers Barnet in a proverbial six-pointer while next Saturday League leaders Port Vale entertain Accrington and bottom of the table Wimbledon have a tricky test against in-form Burton.

Monday, 21 January 2013

League Two round-up: 19/01/13

The adverse weather conditions put paid to the majority of games in League Two this weekend. Three matches did go ahead, however, and should the outlook improve, there could be a few more games this week before Saturday’s fixtures.
Northampton moved into the playoff places following their win at home to Burton. A single goal was enough for the Cobblers to secure maximum points. The goal came on 69 minutes– top scorer Adebayo Akinfenwa’s looping header from Ben Tozer’s delivery being the difference between the sides. It was Akinfenwa’s 15th strike of the campaign and the result sees Northampton climb to 6th in the table.
Elsewhere, it was 17th versus 13th as a resurgent Wycombe side took on Dagenham & Redbridge. The hosts took the lead with just over half an hour played, through Sam Woods. That’s how it remained at Adams Park and victory for the Chairboys sees them move 10 points clear of danger.
There were no goals in the League’s remaining encounter, where York and Aldershot met. Both sides created opportunities but a share of the spoils was probably a fair reflection on the game, which proved difficult in such weather conditions. The teams finish how they started, in 15th and 21st places respectively.
Tomorrow sees an in-form Northampton side travel to Aldershot, while – weather permitting – there are games on Thursday (AFC Wimbledon v Port Vale) and Friday (Cheltenham v Rochdale).
Keeping an eye on tomorrow’s other fixtures, League Two’s knock-out specialists Bradford City head to Villa Park as they contest the second leg of their League Cup semi final against Aston Villa. The Bantams go into the game with a two goal cushion, having won 3-1 at Valley Parade earlier this month.
If the bad weather manages to hold off, the next round of League games will take place on Saturday. The pick of the ties sees Chesterfield meet Southend, with both teams pushing for a playoff place – three points separate 6th from 11th. Bottom of the pile Bristol Rovers travel to Rotherham while Martin Allen’s Gillingham will look to re-take top spot as they host The Minstermen of York.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Fans of the 72 – Barnet

So I was recently asked to answer a number of questions for ‘Fans of the 72’ – a blog dedicated to supporters of teams in the Championship and Leagues One and Two. You can also find them on Twitter @fansofthe72. Here are my thoughts on the season so far:

Who has been both the best player to feature for your club this season?
The best player this season has to be Ricky Holmes. He’s been in and out of the side with injuries, but he’s a consistent player and a definite game-changer. He scored a hat-trick against Burton in December (the win saw us move out of the bottom two for the first time this season). Since we signed him from Chelmsford City, there’s always been rumours of him joining bigger clubs, so I think we’d be very lucky to hold onto him. Ricky’s fast with tricks up his sleeves, leaves the opposition’s defence on the floor confused and creates goals as well as scoring them.
And worst?
The worst player, without a doubt, has to be Collins John. When we heard he had joined us in October and after waiting two weeks for international clearance, he was handed a start against Plymouth. After much anticipation and build-up, the signing’s been nothing short of a let-down. He lasted about 10 minutes and after going down for the second time in the game, he was substituted with a thigh injury – although it was evident he wasn’t really match fit by the way he was walking around the pitch. Who knows when we’ll next see him... 
Who has been the best signing?
Graham Stack or David Stephens – the two Hibernian lads. Solid, no-nonsense and have instilled some much-needed calmness and discipline in and around the six-yard box. Just wish Stacky could save a penalty though! Davids has obviously been a useful addition to the squad!
Who would you like to sign in the January transfer window?
We’ve recently acquired the services of Ibra Sekajja on a one-month loan from Crystal Palace – a striker. We have a number of strikers already the club, but none of them really strike me as the typical 20 goals a campaign man, like last year’s McLeod. So a forward capable of finding the back of the net would be good. We also need another defender or two, I think. We previously had Krystian Pearce on loan from Notts County and he was quality – and very popular with fans. So if we could have him back, that’d be great! I’m more concerned about the squad number though, so maybe if we could use this transfer window to get rid of the dead weight and then see what positions we need to invest in.
Views on the manager?
Well the results have certainly turned around since the arrival of Edgar Davids. The concern with having someone of Davids’ cachet at the club is that he could quickly become bored with the rough and tumble of League Two and seek new challenges. At the moment though his commitment seems genuine enough and there have been odd comments in interviews where he has spoken about long-term plans and the squad for next season. But no complaints at the minute – and he can still play too!
And finally, expectations for your club for the rest of the season?
Going into the New Year, we were the ninth-best team form-wise over the past 11 games and enjoyed the best Christmas in League Two with seven points from nine. Based on that form, the possibility of new signings and a number of players coming back from injury, we have the potential to avoid our final day dice with the drop – and even aspire to mid-table mediocrity. The current form of the teams around us down in the depths also gives genuine cause for optimism. Just not another relegation scrap, please.

League Two round-up: 12/01/13

A full programme of fixtures this weekend in the Football League’s basement division and it certainly wasn’t going to disappoint, with first meeting second and a number of games involving teams at the bottom scrapping for points. The round-up begins in the North West, where the shock of the day took place.
24th placed Bristol Rovers travelled to high-flying Fleetwood, but come 5pm and the Gas would have earned only their second away win of the season. Five minutes in and the visitors were ahead as Danny Woodwards met Ellis Harrison’s cross. Half an hour played and John Ward’s struggling side doubled their advantage through Eliot Richards, before the points were secured early in the second half – John-Joe O’Toole’s 18-yard strike hitting the back of the net. Despite their emphatic win, Rovers remain rooted to the bottom, while Fleetwood’s defeat sees them drop out of the playoffs.
Barnet made it back-to-back victories and continued to surprise when they travelled to Rotherham. A goal in each half helped their cause to move away from the drop zone and Jake Hyde made it eight for the season when his chip over Andy Warrington put the Bees ahead with 20 minutes played. It was game over for Steve Evans’ playoff chasers eight minutes from time when Ricky Holmes’ cross found Andy Yiadom, giving the winger an easy side-foot, which he promptly put away.
Staying at the wrong end of the table, Plymouth hosted Morecambe and Aldershot were looking to continue their recent good form against Accrington. John Sheridan’s tenure as Argyle boss began with a win – which also saw his charges end the weekend out of the bottom two. It was a great start for the home side and they found themselves two goals up with only 16 minutes played. Conor Hourihane opened the scoring, before Ronan Murray (on loan from Ipswich) set up Paris Cowan-Hall to turn in from close range. Morecambe managed to pull one back through Ryan Williams’ long-range shot with 10 minutes remaining, but their chances of finding a late equaliser were diminished when Andrew Parrish was dismissed for a second bookable offence
Meanwhile, Aldershot continued their fight against the drop while Accrington’s slump goes on. The Shots went in at the break with a single goal’s lead – an early strike from Troy Brown was enough to separate the sides. But a Dani Lopez header in the closing 10 minutes ensured the points would be the Shots’ and they find themselves two points clear of AFC Wimbledon who failed to win.
It finished honours even at the Kingsmeadow when Wimbledon took on fellow strugglers Wycombe. Wanderers led through Jo Kuffour’s early goal but the Dons hit back and levelled through Paul McCallum. The hosts turned it around before the break when McCallum made it two – his fourth goal in three games. But the visiting side secured a point with just under 20 minutes left to play, Matt McClure’s effort making sure that the Chairboys didn’t make it an eighth successive away defeat.
Switching to the top of the League Two table and it was all change yet again with Port Vale leapfrogging Gillingham to take first place. Tom Pope made it 26 for the season, the division’s top scorer heading in from Adam Yates’ cross to give the visiting side the early advantage. Vale’s lead was doubled soon after when Adam Barrett was adjudged to have turned into his net (although debutant Lee Hughes may claim the goal), but Gills reduced the deficit a minute later through Danny Kedwell’s edge-of-the-box strike. It remained 2-1 and so Vale now sit a point ahead of the Gills at the top of table.
Exeter moved into the automatic promotion spots and made it three consecutive wins when they beat a Southend side looking for a promotion place themselves. A brace from John O’Flynn helped the Grecians secure maximum points, his first coming minutes before the half time whistle. The hosts left it late to kill the game off but Scot Bennett’s looping header was soon followed by O’Flynn’s second of the day.  Southend remain in the top seven, but only on goal difference.
There was no Manager of the Month curse when Burton hosted Torquay. The Brewers’ Gary Rowett won the prestigious title for December after his side won 10 points from a possible 15. But it was Torquay who took the lead in this one, and Aaron Downes’ header before the break was the difference between the sides. With an hour played, Calvin Zola drilled in an equaliser and the eventual winner came only minutes from time – substitute Matt Paterson fired home to complete the turnaround for Burton, moving them into the playoffs in the process.
Cup heroes Bradford found themselves a goal up against Oxford, but come the end of the game, the Us made it four successive league wins. Nahki Wells, scorer of the Bantams’ opener against Villa, tapped in early on to give the home side the lead. But four minutes later Oxford levelled through Sean Rigg. With it looking likely that the points would be shared, Oxford were awarded a penalty after Alfie Potter was tripped – Peter Leven stepped up and snatched a late winner. Crewe beckons for Bradford as they play in the League Trophy northern semi-final on Tuesday.
There were also home wins this weekend for Chesterfield and Dagenham & Redbridge. The victory was wrapped up at half time when Chesterfield played a Northampton side who began the day three points ahead of the hosts. In fact, the game’s goals came in just eight minutes, the first courtesy of Jay O’Shea who recently made his move from MK Dons permanent. A double from Marc Richards soon followed – a mistake by Cobblers’ newly-returned Clark Carlisle saw the striker fire into the top corner, before a Tendayi Darikwa pass allowed Richards to make it three for the Spireites. Both teams sit a point off the playoffs, with Cheltenham still below Northampton.
The Daggers also went behind against Rochdale before finding a late winner to snatch maximum points. After an open, goalless first half, the real excitement came in the final 20 minutes of the match. Dale went ahead through Andrew Tutte’s 12-yard strike only to be pegged back minutes later – Abu Ogogo finding the correct net and scoring from close range. That left both sides 15 minutes to find a winner; Dagenham got it two minutes into stoppage time, Sam Williams teeing up Medy Elito to smash the ball home.
The only other draw this weekend came at Whaddon Road where York travelled to face Cheltenham, a side who have recently dropped from third to having to settle for a playoff place. After their FA Cup exit to Everton on Monday night, the Rubies went ahead in this one – Shaun Harrad’s curling strike came midway through the second period and was his first goal since September. York levelled six minutes from time with Jason Walker’s effort from Chris Smith’s flick-on giving the Minstermen a share of the spoils.
With Torquay and Exeter meeting on Tuesday night in their rescheduled clash and Cheltenham’s trip to Morecambe on Friday night, it’s Saturday afternoon football for everyone else. At the wrong end of the table, Accrington meet Wycombe; elsewhere, Gillingham will look to return to winning ways against Rochdale at Spotland and the league’s bottom side Bristol Rovers host third-placed Exeter.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Two minutes with… Aldershot Town

Aldershot were the first team to travel to Underhill in 2013 with the traditional New Year’s Day game. Shots’ fan Rhys takes part in this instalment of ‘Two minutes with...’

Had you been to Underhill before?
Yes I have.
How did you get to the game?
I got the train.

The match
Whereabouts in the ground did you sit/stand?
I stood in the East Terrace.
What did you make of the game?
It was a very scrappy and gritty game.
Who (from either side) do you think deserved to be man of the match?
Aldershot’s Danny Rose.

Was the score line a fair reflection on the game?
No, I think a draw would have been fair.
Who do you play next, and how do you think you’ll get on?
We played Rotherham in the FA Cup last Saturday. It was a game I thought we'd struggle with but we ended up winning 3-1 and play Middlesbrough in the next round. [Aldershot host Accrington in the League at the weekend]

Cost of match day ticket
 ––– 2/10
Purchases made at ground
I bought a hot dog and thought it wasn’t very nice ––– 3/10
––– 7/10
Quality of football
––– 5/10
Overall experience
Due to the search a few of my friends and I had to have outside the ground it slightly dampened the experience ––– 5/10

Total ––– 22/50

And you can follow Rhys on Twitter @rhys9emberson

Monday, 7 January 2013

League Two round-up: 05/01/13

Even though it was FA Cup weekend with teams in Third Round action, there was still a healthy programme of League Two matches (notwithstanding the handful of teams hoping to secure a place in the Fourth Round). The round-up begins with two clubs at the wrong end of the table who provided the shocks of the weekend: AFC Wimbledon and Barnet.
AFC Wimbledon moved out of the bottom two following their win at playoff hopefuls Rochdale, also securing their first back-to-back victories of the season. The Dons went ahead early in the second half – Paul McCallum was allowed to side-foot the ball into the net after the hosts failed to clear from a corner. There was no way back for Dale once Joe Rafferty was sent off for a second bookable offence, but in the end the one goal settled it. Wimbledon still sit precariously above the drop zone, but they have games in hand over a number of teams struggling at the wrong end of the table.
Meanwhile at Underhill, Barnet were back to winning ways; Bradford could almost be forgiven for staying in first gear, with one eye on their midweek League Cup semi final with Aston Villa. A rather uneventful first half sprang to life just before the break, the Bees going ahead when Taiwo Atieno scored his first goal since joining as a free agent – a tap in from Elliot Johnson’s low cross. The home side doubled their lead three minutes into the second period – Ricky Holmes teeing up John Oster on the counter attack. The Bantams drop a place to eight, which sees them outside of the playoffs, albeit on goal difference.
Keeping with the bottom half, there were also good wins for Dagenham & Redbridge and Wycombe. 16th met 17th at the Crown Ground where Accrington hosted the Daggers and the away side took the lead after 20 minutes through Matthew Saunders. His header from Medy Elito’s cross separated the sides going in at the break. A second half goal by Luke Howell doubled the travelling side’s advantage – a win that sees them put an end to a run of three successive defeats.
Wycombe had to fight back after going a goal down to Chesterfield at Adams Park. Jay O’Shea’s powerful strike gave the Spireites the lead before the half hour mark but before the opening forty-five was out, Wanderers levelled – Kourtney Hause, with two goals in as many games, scrambling the ball over the line. The match then swung in the hosts’ favour and Jo Kuffour scored what proved to be the winning goal, flicking the ball past Tommy Lee between the Chesterfield sticks.
Moving to the top of the League Two table and it’s pretty much ‘as you were’, with Gillingham leading ahead of Port Vale – both teams winning again this weekend. The Gills enjoyed a comfortable victory against the division’s bottom side, Bristol Rovers. They took the lead as early as the third minute when an effort by Chris Whelpdale landed in the top corner. And the league leaders doubled their advantage after the break – a Deon Burton goal compounding the misery for the Gas and their home support.
Managerless Plymouth continued their slump and finished this weekend in the bottom two after their emphatic defeat at Port Vale. Vale went ahead through Jennison Myrie-Williams’ 20-yard shot towards the end of the first half and they were handed a further advantage minutes later when Argyle’s Nick Chadwick was dismissed. It took until the 55th minute for the game’s second goal to arrive and it was again for the home side – the division’s top scorer Tom Pope with a powerful header. With less than 15 minutes left to play, Pope turned provider for Ben Williams who tapped in a third, before the man of the moment scored his second of the game – his 25th of the campaign. Yesterday, Argyle appointed John Sheridan as their new boss.
With no points shared this weekend, there were also wins for Northampton and Exeter. A brace for Jake Robinson helped the Cobblers to victory at Sixfields. Two goals before half time, a header from Chris Hacketts’ cross and a low drive from the edge of the box, put the hosts in control. A third was added by Clive Platt early in the second period and while Fleetwood left it late to register, Jamie Allen’s goal proved a mere consolation. The loss puts an end to the Cod Army’s run of five games without defeat, while it’s good news for Northampton who’ve now won three on the bounce.
Exeter move into fifth after their win against York. The Grecians were gifted the lead in the 14th minute when on-loan winger Alex Rodman put past his own keeper but the Minstermen levelled five minutes later – Michael Potts was quickest to pounce once Matty Blair’s shot was parried. A second half goal by Exeter’s Jimmy Keohane secured the victory and sees them finish the weekend in the playoffs.
There’s a single game in League Two on Tuesday night as Morecambe host Dagenham – a game previously postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. Looking forward to Saturday’s matches, the top two meet with Port Vale travelling to Gillingham. At the wrong end of the table there a number of exciting games in prospect with teams desperate for points. They include Wimbledon v Wycombe, Aldershot v Accrington and Plymouth v Morecambe.

Two minutes with… Bradford City

Bradford were the visitors to Underhill on Saturday afternoon. Bantams’ fan Kate reveals all in this instalment of ‘Two minutes with...’

Had you been to Underhill before?
No, I hadn’t.
How did you get to the game?
I travelled from Leeds so a mixture of train, tube and bus! I use a wheelchair so I had an interesting time negotiating accessible routes.

The match
Whereabouts in the ground did you sit/stand?
I was behind the goal in the away seated area.
What did you make of the game?
It’s one we wanted to win so to be honest I was disappointed! It wasn’t a classic match but I was surprised by how much football Barnet played and I think we struggled with that in the second half.
Who (from either side) do you think deserved to be man of the match?
Barnet’s winger, Yiadom – he caused us problems all afternoon.

Was the score line a fair reflection on the game?
Probably. Barnet didn’t have many chances but they took them, and we didn’t take ours.
Who do you play next, and how do you think you’ll get on?
We have Aston Villa on Tuesday in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final. My head says Villa will win, but my heart reckons we can just nick it and take a narrow lead into the second leg! I can dream, right?

Cost of match day ticket
£13, cheaper than a lot of other grounds, and probably fair given that Barnet are usually in the lower half of the league. ––– 8/10
Purchases made at ground
I only bought a Coke and the standard was fine, but the kiosk is up some steps which meant I had to get someone to buy it for me. ––– 5/10
Being behind the goal means you don’t always get a clear view of the opposite goal to where you are sitting, but there weren’t any obstructions besides my own eyesight! ––– 7/10
Quality of football
Better than I was expecting from Barnet having seen them at Valley Parade in the reverse fixture, but you lose a point for the score! ––– 6/10
Overall experience
The travel was much easier than I thought. The stewards were helpful, particularly when buying my ticket. As I mentioned before, there were access issues to the kiosk. (I think there was another kiosk down the far end of the stand but it wasn’t clear if this was open.) I would have obviously preferred a different result, but there wasn’t anything Barnet could do about that! ––– 7/10

Total ––– 33/50
And you can follow Kate on Twitter @bantamskatee

Sunday, 6 January 2013

2012 round-up – part four

To re-cap: parts one, two and three.
Davids' debut against Northampton Town.
The month began with the news that Collins John was finally handed international clearance. It had been a long two weeks since his arrival and it would be fair to say that everyone was relishing seeing him in action. Five days later and on his debut against Plymouth Argyle, he went off injured – talk about anti-climax! After attempting to run and not do much else, he went down like a sack of spuds.
After a number of social media rumours including a tweet from a youth player saying he was seen at The Hive, three weeks later Edgar Davids signed for the Bees. The former Dutch midfielder who played for the likes of AC Milan and Barcelona would be a player/coach – sharing management duties with Mark Robson.
He then brought in one of his friends: former Ajax Academy and Dutch coach, Ulrich Landvreugd. Ulrich would be assistant coach and work alongside Kenny Brown, overseeing the under-21s.
Davids made his debut in the home win to Northampton – he played 90 minutes and made himself captain in the process!
The month ended with good news too, as young scholar Jamal Lowe penned his first professional contract. He’d made his debut as a substitute against York before making a full appearance versus Bradford.
Mark Byrne made the League Two Team of the Week – thanks to his last minute penalty against Chesterfield. Byrner put the spot-kick away, ensuring all three points in the Bees’ second win of the season.
After receiving a bye in the first round of the JPT, Barnet were knocked out in round two after a 1-0 defeat by League One club, Leyton Orient.
League – 02.10.12 – Barnet 1-2 Exeter City
League – 06.10.12 – Southend United 2-2 Barnet
JPT – 09.10.12 – Leyton Orient 1-0 Barnet
League – 13.10.12 – Barnet 1-4 Plymouth Argyle
League – 19.10.12 – Barnet 4-0 Northampton Town
League – 23.10.12 – Wycombe Wanderers 0-0 Barnet
League – 27.10.12 – Chesterfield 0-1 Barnet
Points – 8/18 ––– Goals scored – 9 ––– Goals conceded – 8 ––– League position – 24th

Players in:
Bristol Rovers were awarded an indirect
free-kick from four yards out.

A trio of signings was made. Two loanees: welcome (1) Andy Iro, a defender from Stevenage and (2) George Barker, a young striker from Brighton & Hove Albion. Welcome (3) to Melvin Holwyn. The 32-year-old Dutchman joined on non-contract terms for an initial month.
At the end of November, another of the youth players penned a professional contract. Striker George Sykes had made his debut earlier in the season.
The Bees were knocked out of the FA Cup at the first round. Oxford travelled to Underhill and ran out 2-0 victors. The Bees would be hosting the Us in the League, later in the month.
FA Cup – 03.11.12 – Barnet 0-2 Oxford United
League – 06.11.12 – Barnet 1-0 Torquay United
League – 10.11.12 – Morecambe 4-1 Barnet
League – 16.11.12 – Barnet 1-1 Accrington Stanley
League – 20.11.12 – Barnet 2-2 Oxford United
League – 24.11.12 – Cheltenham Town – 1-0 Barnet
Points – 5/15 ––– Goals scored – 5 ––– Goals conceded – 8 ––– League position – 24th

Before the year was out, it was announced that Mark Robson had left the club, just six months after he was appointed as first team coach. A statement read: “it was felt that clarification was required regarding the coaching responsibilities of the club and to this end it was agreed that Mark should leave with immediate effect”. This meant Edgar Davids would take full-responsibility for all first team matters. His first game in charge would be the following day – away to Exeter.
Players out:
Final home game of 2012 saw a 3-2 win against
Burton Albion.

Jamal Lowe and George McCluskey both joined Hayes & Yeading for a month’s loan, which would last until mid-January. Jamal already had eight appearances to his name for the Bees this season, having signed a permanent contract in October.
Krystian Pearce, the centre back on loan from Notts County returned to his parent club after his three month spell was up
Players in:
Another month and another signing. Taiwo Atieno joined the club as a free agent, having most recently been with Torquay. The 27-year-old striker arrived in time for the Gillingham game, and ended up being an unused substitute.
Barnet were knocked out of the Herts Senior Cup in the second round. They were 2-1 losers at Ware.
League – 08.12.12 – Barnet 1-1 AFC Wimbledon
League – 15.12.12 – Dagenham & Redbridge 1-0 Barnet
League – 21.12.12 – Barnet 3-2 Burton Albion
League – 26.12.12 – Gillingham 0-1 Barnet
League – 29.12.12 – Exeter City 2-2 Barnet
Points – 8/15 ––– Goals scored – 7 ––– Goals conceded – 6 ––– League position – 21st

Friday, 4 January 2013

League Two round-up: 01/01/13

The busy festive period concluded with the traditional New Year’s Day matches in the Premier and Football League. With yet another change at the top of the League Two table and a number of tasty ties towards the bottom, the round-up begins with what was undoubtedly the game of the day at Plainmoor.
Torquay hosted bottom of the league AFC Wimbledon in what turned out to be a five-goal thriller with early goals and a late flurry. Paul McCallum’s header gave Wimbledon the lead five minutes in, but the hosts quickly levelled when their captain, Lee Mansell, fired home. As the first half was coming to a close, the Dons restored their lead through an unlikely source – defender Mat Mitchel-King grabbed his first league goal for the club. With Wimbledon set for three vital points to catch up with the other teams around them, Rene Howe levelled the scores again for Torquay before stoppage time began. There was final drama when, with four minutes added on, Aaron Downes was penalised for his challenge on Rashid Yussuf and Stacy Long powered in the spot kick. Wimbledon remain in 24th but close the gap with three points now separating themselves and 20th place.
Keeping with the bottom, 23rd met 20th as Bristol Rovers hosted Plymouth and Barnet (21st) took on Aldershot (22nd) at Underhill. In front of their home fans, Rovers began 2013 with a win, although they also stay in the relegation zone. Argyle found themselves two goals down at halftime. Joe Anyinsah gave the Pirates the lead in the 19th minute with a volley from Fabien Broghammer’s corner. And their lead was extended six minutes later when a second corner, again from Broghammer, wasn’t dealt with by the Plymouth defence – Matthew Lund finding the top corner with his effort. The Pilgrims managed to pull one back after an hour (Conor Hourihane) but it wasn’t enough and after the match boss Carl Fletcher became the first managerial casualty of the year.
Meanwhile a single goal was the difference between Barnet and Aldershot in a game littered with controversy. After a dull, goalless first forty-five, the game sprang to life in four second half minutes. Aldershot took the lead when Craig Reid netted from the spot after the Bees defender was deemed to have handled. The home side’s afternoon went from bad to worse when Jon Nurse was shown a straight red for an over-zealous challenge on Dani Lopez. And it definitely wasn’t the home side’s day when Jake Hyde’s finish was disallowed for offside – the referee had given the goal but overturned the decision after speaking to the linesman, who had flagged. Replays after the match suggested his initial decision was the correct one. The Shots’ win sees them move up the table but they are still only three points from danger.
Gillingham started this year back in first place, a position they’ve occupied for the majority of the season so far. A third minute goal by Chris Whelpdale was decisive against Southend. The Essex club continue to occupy the playoffs though, with a number of sides in the top seven losing. A win for Port Vale and they’d retain top spot – they took on Fleetwood – while Cheltenham had occupied third place for 11 matches before they took on Oxford. At Vale Park, Fleetwood took the lead after 25 minutes when David Ball turned in Junior Brown’s free-kick; they secured the points through Alan Goodall’s header towards the end of the opening period.
Elsewhere, a solitary goal for Oxford saw them continue their recent run of good form – a revival of late has seen the Us go 10 games unbeaten. Cheltenham’s defeat consigned them to fourth place. When Tom Craddock was clipped in the box there was only one outcome and Peter Leven duly put away the penalty.
It was an unhappy return to the Crown Ground for Paul Cook. The former Accrington manager suffered defeat as his current club Chesterfield were beaten by a single goal. Rommy Boco’s 65th minute strike from inside the box – his ninth of the season – was enough to separate the sides.
Wycombe were beaten in the cruellest of ways when they hosted Exeter at Adams Park. Maximum points could easily have gone the other way – first Wanderers were handed an advantage when Jamie Cureton saw red with 40 minutes played. With a man extra for over half the game, the Chairboys were given the opportunity to take the lead from the penalty spot but Joel Grant’s kick was saved by Artur Krysiak. And with only seven minutes left to play, 17-year-old defender Kortney Hause put through his own net after Grecians’ marksman John O’Flynn had his shot saved.
Also in the Football League’s bottom division, there were big victories for Northampton and York. After two consecutive postponements due to the recent bad weather, the Cobblers ran out winners at Sixfields. Their opener came courtesy of an Abu Ogogo OG and three minutes later their lead was doubled by Chris Hackett’s neat finish. After the break, Kelvin Langmead added a third and when the Daggers pulled one back through Scott Doe it was no more than consolation.
York’s first win in three matches came against a Burton team, who prior to Tuesday’s games occupied a play-off place. The home side went into the break two goals up. First Marcus Holness fouled Alex Rodman and Jason Walker scored the resulting penalty; then their lead was doubled by Patrick McLaughlin. The points were sealed late on when Matty Blair added a third from distance.
A late comeback from Rotherham saw them snap up third place, despite having been behind at Spotland, where Rochdale hosted. Ashley Grimes put Dale in front before the half-hour mark, although prior to that, Steve Evans’ side had a chance denied by the linesman’s flag. It took as long as the 78th minute for the visitors to find an equaliser – Kayode Odejayi scrambling the ball home to set up an exciting finish. The Millers’ winner arrived before stoppage time – Courtney Cameron, the on-loan midfielder, with his first goal since joining from Aston Villa.
Morecambe and Bradford played out an uninspiring goalless draw at the Globe Arena.
With a number of sides in the third round of the FA Cup, there are only eight matches in League Two on Saturday. Managerless Plymouth have a tough trip to Port Vale, Martin Allen’s leaders Gillingham face Bristol Rovers and Accrington (16th) meet Dagenham & Redbridge (17th) in the pick of the games.
Aldershot v Rotherham is the only all-League Two tie in the FA Cup, meaning there will be a representative from the division in the fourth round.


Wednesday, 2 January 2013

2012 round-up – part three

Regarding the stadium saga, it was announced that from 2013/14 Barnet would move to their training ground – The Hive at Harrow. The move was approved by the council on the 19th.
Players out:
Former Bees Sam Deering and Izale McLeod found new clubs. Sammy joined fellow League Two club Cheltenham, while Izzy went to League One’s Portsmouth – despite their financial restraints.
My season ticket arrived in July.
Players in:
There were a number of players brought in during the close season. First was former Hammer Olly Lee. The 20-year-old midfielder was another Robson’s connections and on his arrival commented: “Olly’s a very good footballer who is comfortable on the ball”.
Following the expiration of his previous contract, Jack Saville agreed a new deal.
After securing Freddie Warren and Ahmed Abdulla on free deals, Jon Nurse the former Dagenham & Redbridge front-man became Robson’s seventh signing.
Anthony Edgar put pen to paper for a permanent deal after he impressed on trial.
Towards the end of the month, free agent Jon Fortune joined the squad. Known for his two stints with Charlton, he had most recently played for Exeter City.
The final player to arrive in July saw the return of Jake Hyde, following his time in Scotland. The striker played during the 2009/10 campaign, where he made 34 appearances but spent two years in Scotland playing for Dundee and Dunfermline.
Pre-season – 14.07.12 – Burnham Ramblers 0-6 Barnet
Pre-season – 21.07.12 – St Albans 2-10 Barnet
Pre-season – 26.07.12 – Barnet 1-4 Charlton Athletic

Players in:
Former Gillingham duo, midfielder Curtis Weston and defender Barry Fuller (in his second spell) both arrived on free transfers.
Rainbow during the League match v York.
Goalkeeper Graham Stack signed for the Bees following his release from Scottish outfit Hibernian.
Jon Nurse – suffered concussion in the game against York. It appeared to be a lot worse at a first glance, as he was stretchered off wearing a neck brace and oxygen mask. The initial reaction was a serious neck/back injury, as he wasn’t moving for five minutes after going down.
A tough trip to Birmingham awaited in the first round of the League Cup. After a good start with a goal from Nursey, the Bees were eventually knocked out, suffering a 5-1 defeat in the process.
Pre-season – 04.08.12 – Borehamwood 2-3 Barnet
League Cup – 14.08.12 – Birmingham City 5-1 Barnet
League – 18.08.12 – Port Vale 3-0 Barnet
League – 21.08.12 – Barnet 1-1 Bristol Rovers
League– 25.08.12 – Barnet 1-3 York City
Points – 1/9 ––– Goals scored – 2 ––– Goals conceded – 7 ––– League position – 17th

Players in:
Another month and another handful of signings.
Welcome (1) to defender David Stephens who arrived from Hibernian, teaming up again with keeper Stack.
Welcome (2) John Oster. The midfielder was released by Oldham and has a wealth of experience in the Football League, also playing in the Premier League with Sunderland and Everton.
Beautiful playing surface.
Welcome (3) loanee Krystian Pearce. The Notts County defender joined on a three-month deal.
Welcome (4) to former Dutch international and Fulham striker Collins John and finally welcome (5) to Sierra Leonean Ishmail Kamara. The 24-year-old (now 25) attracted attention from a number of clubs after his performances with Dulwich Hamlet.
Ishmail Kamara joined Danny Senda and Steve Kabba on the long-term injury list after suffering a dislocated shoulder in the defeat to Fleetwood. After coming on as a substitute, the debutant was only on the field for a couple of minutes.
League – 01.09.12 – Rochdale 2-0 Barnet
League – 08.09.12 – Barnet 1-3 Gillingham
League – 15.09.12 – Bradford City 3-0 Barnet
League – 18.09.12 – Aldershot Town 1-0 Barnet
League – 22.09.12 – Barnet 0-0 Rotherham United
League – 29.09.12 – Fleetwood 2-1 Barnet
Points – 1/18 ––– Goals scored – 2 ––– Goals conceded – 11 ––– League position – 21st

Part one can be found here and part two, here.

League Two round-up: 29/12/12

With the end of 2012 just around the corner, there was a full programme of Football League fixtures on Saturday. However, in League Two, three games succumbed to the wet and windy conditions.
At the top of the division, Gillingham and Northampton’s encounter at Priestfield was one of the postponements. This meant victory for Port Vale at Dagenham would see them leapfrogging the league leaders. Vale went ahead at Victoria Road in the opening five minutes, and Tom Pope’s header was soon added to when Jennison Myrie-Williams’ doubled their lead. The Daggers reduced the deficit 10 minutes later – a foul on Liam Chilvers saw a penalty awarded and Sam Williams stepped up to tuck the ball away. Before the half time whistle was sounded, the Valiants restored their two-goal cushion through Louis Dodds’ lob over Chris Lewington in the hosts’ net. In a much less exciting second period, Dagenham clawed a further goal back late on – Scott Doe’s strike wasn’t enough however and Vale took their place at the head of the table.
Third placed Cheltenham were another team to see their game called off, this time against struggling Bristol Rovers. The postponement allowed the teams around them in the play-offs to close the gap. Fourth met eighth as Southend travelled to Burton, where a win for the Shrimpers would see them move into the automatic promotion places. However, they were on the losing end of a 2-0 score line which saw the Brewers move into the final play-off spot. The result was wrapped up at half time with Calvin Zola’s opener – his 11th of the season – added to by Lee Bell’s 25-yard free kick, which took a deflection. Southend were handed a lifeline when Albion defender Nathan Stanton was shown a second yellow with 15 minutes left to play. The Shrimpers - who were two goals down in their last game and managed to salvage a draw - couldn’t fashion a way back here, but still find themselves in fourth.
Elsewhere, Accrington finished the year with another defeat as they continue to struggle at the wrong end of the table, while Steve Evans’ Rotherham keep up the promotion push. The Millers were handed a late Christmas present when the visitors’ Tom Eckersley headed into his own net with only 15 minutes played. Stanley were on level terms before the first half was out when Craig Linfield converted Michael Liddle’s cross. But it was all Rotherham in the second half and they retook the lead through Daniel Nardiello’s header. Two goals in three minutes then killed the game off: first Nardiello grabbed his second before Michael O’Connor made it four.
Fans at Valley Parade were entertained by a six-goal thriller, but it would be the away contingent that left the game happier when Bradford hosted Rochdale. All of the goals came in the opening 40 minutes. Dale took an early lead through Terry Gornell’s strike from inside the box. The Bantams had a chance to level when Alan Connell was bundled over by Ryan Edwards and the former Swindon front-man duly put away the spot kick. The visitors then retook the lead towards the end of the first half, setting up an exciting end to what proved to be a goal fest. Andrew Tutte’s strike was followed by a goal from Ashley Grimes, extending Dale’s lead to 3-1. Although Connell pulled another one back for Bradford, again from the penalty spot, Rochdale’s rout was complete on the 40 minute mark when Gornell bagged his brace, this time with a header. Defeat for Bradford put an end to their five game unbeaten run.
Also in League Two, there was a big win for Oxford, extending their run of games without defeat to nine. The Us took the lead after the half hour mark when Alfie Potter was provider for Sean Rigg to smash home and five minutes later the roles were reversed when Potter found his name on the score sheet – Rigg with the assist. The victory was complete when Tom Craddock pounced but the drama wasn’t over and Oxford found themselves a man short when James Constable saw red for an alleged elbow. The loss for Wimbledon moved them to the bottom of the league.
Also in the basement, a solitary goal for Wycombe gave them a vital point against fellow strugglers Plymouth. An 11th minute strike from Matt McClure ended Argyle’s four match unbeaten run and pushes Wanderers 10 points clear of the drop zone.
Barnet snatched a very late point when they travelled to Exeter and despite winning their last two games, the Bees found themselves two down at the break. Both of the Grecians’ goals came from corners: first a strong header by Danny Coles gave them a lead before it was doubled by defender, Scot Bennett. Jon Nurse pulled one back for Barnet with 15 minutes remaining and their equaliser came in the seventh minute of stoppage time when Stevenage loanee, Andy Iro bundled the ball over the line.
The points were also shared between Chesterfield and Morecambe. The hosts found themselves a goal adrift before half an hour was played – Chris McCready’s header giving the Shrimps the lead. Conor Townsend, on loan from Hull, levelled the scores when his free-kick went straight in from his boot. But Townsend soon turned villain when he was shown a straight red for an alleged elbow on Will Haining. Despite having a man advantage for thirty minutes, Morecambe had to settle for a point.
Fleetwood and York, the two promoted sides from last season, also played out a goalless draw.