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All the fun of the (Barnet) fair


And all is well that ends well…

Having an initial look back on Over The Hill 2 Underhill 0, wasn’t it a bit of a weird game? We could – and probably should – have tonked them, yet somehow managed to make the 94th minute goal seem like a relief than the cherry on top.

Or as somebody said afterwards, we still appear to be papering over the cracks.

There’s plenty to be happy about, of course. Today saw Akinfenwa benched, so Azeez and Taylor started, and they did make a difference.

Taylor’s goal was the one he (and we) needed, and it was a decent one at that. We had a couple more chances, and had we got in just a little bit closer then it would have been 3-0 before the break, and nobody could have complained.

What it definitely should have been was 2-0. What is it with us and penalties? BMO was shite at them, and now Francomb has joined him.

OK, I know that if he scored it would have done his confidence no end of good, but how many times have players down on their luck fucked them up? Seriously, it was awful, but sadly – you just knew it would happen.

SW19 made great play of this last week, and nothing has changed my view since then, but our lack of a killer instinct really does, er, kill us.

It didn’t matter so much today, but once again we can’t do the footballing equivalent of a snide kick to the bollocks when the other bloke is down. Even a second goal midway through the second half would have killed the game off, but it just looked so unlikely.

Of course, that finally did happen right at the end. Barnet shoved their keeper up in our box, we broke away, and Rigg (eventually) slotted home. It’s one of those goals I’d love to see again, because it didn’t half piss off the visitors…

Still, a win is a win and I think we deserved it as well. Having Semi in there has tightened our defence up (stop sniggering) and while it’s just two games in, I’m sure there are many who would prefer it if his loan was for a year.

True, him and Robinson aren’t exactly cultured, but then L2 isn’t exactly the haute cuisine of football.

Taylor and Azeez? Caused problems, and it kind of proved many a point about what happens when you play two mobile forwards who know how to run.

You could pick holes in some of our play, and there will be a couple of moans on here coming up, but winning is a nice feeling and we should enjoy it this week.

After all, the next game is Oxford. And we all know what happens with them…

Plus points: We won. Clean sheet. Taylor/Azeez. Semi. Defence generally. Taylor’s first goal for us.

Minus points: Francomb’s penalty. Left second goal far too late.

The referee’s a…: Nice that we have an official on our side for a change, although the fourth official was getting involved with some “interesting” discussions with NA and Allen. If only they had ref mics like they do at the rugger World Cup…

Them: Shite, basically. Even with our well-known charitable approach to gifting the points at Theme Park KM (the place where all visitors go home happy), they were still inept enough not to take it.

But then, Barnet have always been that sort of club that is too good for the Conference yet never quite seem to stay in the Football League. Remember how close they came to getting relegated even before we finally cast them downwards in 2013?

As for Mr Franchise himself, one M Allen – what a shame he trapsed off at the end. Your editor has been in press conferences with him, and he is as weird as you expect him to be.

Put it this way – the story about him getting banned from a golf club because he apparently told the female masseur “do it harder, bitch”? I can well believe it…

Point to ponder: Whither Francomb? If ever a penalty summed up a player’s form right now, it’s his. It was almost like he expected to miss it before he even placed it on the spot.

Which does make you wonder how he’s going to get out of this current rut. Dropping him seems the most popular call for him at the moment, although if he feels lower than a snake’s arse right now when he is playing – what’s that going to do?

But his all round play is currently poor, and even Parcel Force delivers better than he does right now.

And you just can’t play with passengers. He went off today, looked a tad forlorn, and you have to think starting Sean Rigg would be a much better move for all concerned…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Is it true that Ardley and Bassey had a few “discussions” with fans behind the dugout? Obviously, winning helps the management with that particular argument, but if Barnet had equalised… 2) “You just weren’t good enough” – us to their player in the first half as he got subbed. 3) We finally beat Barnet. Next up – Oxford…

Anything else? I was going to mention something about why today’s game illustrated why we never tonk teams, and perhaps never will, but I note that NA had a big meeting with the players on Thursday.

Now, that’s nothing new, and he can be justifiably pleased with at least some of today, but it seems that not for the first time this season we need to have these clear-the-air sessions.

The first one was at half time at Crawley, and while I don’t think there was blue murder a couple of days ago, it’s obvious that all hasn’t been right.

From NA’s point of view, he does have to deliver this campaign – apparently, he got the budget he wanted and most if not all the targets he required, so from that side of things, he’s run out of places to hide.

The criticism from Tuesday was justified, because we did let that slip. And other criticism from not just this season has also had much merit. But it’s interesting that he mentioned the meeting was “player led”, so maybe – just maybe – the micro-management style is getting loosened just a tad?

For Ardley to succeed, he needs to remember when he arrived, and how by the end of that season we scraped up but had a unity that we’ve never had since.

What did he used to call it? He had a phrase that was quite short (and I can’t find it right now) that he used as a motivational tool.

Thanks to everyone who told me it was “it’s in the script”. Which looking back at that season, whoever wrote it was one seriously sadistic bastard…

Anyway, he’s got in better players but has never been able to replicate the bonding thing – the extra 5% that turns losses into draws and draws into wins.

I’m not sure if he still has, and what will happen long term remains to be seen. That said, there was a bit of the first half when Martin Allen was acting like, well, Martin Allen and the crowd got behind both team and manager because of it.

True, it was very brief and it dropped off quite significantly afterwards, but what surprised me was the ferocity of it. As though it meant something.

Today was a start, and a welcome one, but as suggested in the third paragraph of this very report – we may still be papering over some cracks…

So, was it worth it? Yep.

In a nutshell: Enjoy your weekend.