Slightly (OK, very) truncated effort for Barnet, and I’ll try and do something more substantial later in the week.
In the meantime, STTA has written something from Saturday, after the gap. It’s all getting very exciting…
So off we went on another away day expecting points. There was talk of Barnet’s good home form, they were unbeaten in the league since the end of November including an impressive win against Rovers last month.
This was never going to be a festival of football in wet and windy conditions. The pitch was nearly as bad as Kingsmeadow.
We kicked into the wind first half playing a fairly direct style. Andy Barcham went close early on with a long-range effort and the Barnet keeper did well to keep a Tom Elliot shot out. Lyle Taylor had a couple of half-chances, on another day we could have scored 3 or 4.
Barnet played Akinde up top in his own first half, they put a couple of decent balls into our box but looked like Mad Dog had set them up for a point.
Second half and they brought on another striker (who later went off injured) and within 45 seconds we went ahead! A punt up field by Ryan Sweeney was misjudged by the Barnet defender, Lyle had all day to help it into the net, 1-0 Dons.
Our confidence grew instantly and we started to ping it around. Barcham involved in much of our good work, we created 3 or 4 good chances for a second.
To be fair to Barnet they came back into the game and started causing us a few problems. Barry Fuller and Robbo were excellent dealing with the threat down the right. Jon Meades and The Sweeney equally good on the other side.
Around 70 minutes Lyle and Tom were taken off and on came The Adebayo’s. It was a tough decision for Neal to bench Bayo in December but it was the right one.
Where he’s superb now is when we get ahead in games, the oppo start pressing for an equalizer and we need someone to hold the ball up. There is nobody better in the league at that than Bayo.
As Barnet pressed for an equalizer they left space at the back and eventually we exploited these gaps. George Francomb made a great interception drove down the right and squared the ball for Azeez to net his 7th league goal this season. But for a world class save and the lino’s flag Azeez could have had a hat-trick in the 20 minutes he played.
Apparently Barnet got one back, I was busy admiring Bristol City’s work on my phone and checking other L2 results so you’ll have to watch the highlights for further details!
We made hard work of the last 5 minutes but eventually ran out worthy winners.
Plus points: Kelle Roos, since he arrived I don’t get that sinking feeling every time we concede a set piece. Another competent performance from Ryan Sweeney. Our ability to rest key players, Lyle Taylor is crucial to our success and is only playing 70 minutes a game in this busy period.
Minus points: The weather, the pitch, most of our promotion rivals also winning.
The referee’s a…: slightly overweight and middle-aged school teacher type. Too picky for me when he could have let the game flow.
Them: any club that invite franchise to their first game at a new stadium are wankers in my book. Great to build a new stadium complex but if you’re going to bother why build something as shit as The Hive. In summary you can take Barnet out of non-league but….
Back to us and where now? Reading around I wonder if it’s us who might benefit from the fixture congestion up the top of league 2. Carlisle will arrive weary on Tuesday and Oxford have also played every Tuesday in February.
As I mentioned earlier we are able to rest one or two of our key players without weakening the team. Looking at the bench yesterday we had Shea, Rigg, Azeez, Bayo, Kennedy – all starters in recent times and great options to change games or cover for injuries.
Overall I think we look very strong. We all know the next 3 weeks are crucial, I’m quietly confident we’ll come through this period still very much in the promotion mix.