TT TALKING POINTS – Barnet FC (H) by Chris Wade


Chris Wade


Chris discusses the game at Plainmoor


Time and again this season, our attempts to gain points and momentum have been undermined by slow starts to matches and halves. At Plainmoor on Saturday, it happened again. In front of a surprisingly good crowd given the current situation and five successive Saturday home matches, our chances had dipped in the first five minutes. A questionable throw from Halstead, even more questionable play from Shaun Donnellan and we were behind inside 180 seconds. And that isn’t an isolated example, seven days after giving away a penalty inside two minutes of the second half starting. There is no real excuse for it really, and it is really hurting us, amongst a host of other issues.


It was another confident and strong performance from young Southampton loanee Nico Lawrence. He is mature beyond his years, and has a calm assurance on the ball that you see with a lot of young Premier League graduates these days. But it was his positional play that again excelled against Barnet. Let’s be honest, you’ll struggle to see a more direct and physical team than Barnet, and he stood up to it well. He covered others on several occasions, and also won his share of headers. He has faced the two top scorers in the National League in Nicky Kabamba and Macauley Langstaff in the last two weeks and hasn’t been found wanting. He also didn’t switch off for a second as in the week before.


I’ll be absolutely clear here. Barnet were not my cup of tea. Whilst I understand the importance of winning, doing it like that is not nice, necessary or palatable. As my Dad put it, “I’d rather lose than play like that winning”. Perhaps not but I totally get the sentiment. Time wasting, taking ages over everything, throwing the ball away, wiping people out off the ball (and on it. best wishes to Lewis Collins). They had it all. And were not apologetic about it. But with a backdrop of all that, they were too physical for us. We won little in attack, and our midfield was frankly flimsy. Brushed aside too often, not strong enough in tackles, and out muscled all over the pitch, we have not been able to cope with the top four teams in the league. And there is more to come.


In an incredible turn of fate, Barnet come to Plainmoor again on Saturday in what is arguably a more important game for us. After a midweek game at Notts County for the Bees, we will no doubt be faced with more of the same, and we have to learn lessons quickly. When we were able to get the ball down, play around the sides of them and hurt them with movement, their cumbersome defenders couldn’t cope. Both situations where we hit the frame of the goal came from playing around them, not having a physical tussle. But keeping the ball on the floor is easier said than done when the opposition are playing from back to front so often and directly. We have to work on that this week.


Hard as Gary tries, the squad is still struggling. And the ridiculous decision from an erratic referee to allow a Barnet player back on to wipe out Collins will likely cost us his services for two weeks (in accordance with the frankly correct modern concussion protocols). But we simply cannot affect games with the squad. McGavin was tidy on his return from injury but lacks decisiveness and creativity, Lapslie never stopped (shock) but Evans was largely ineffective despite looking dangerous as ever. And there is nothing off the bench. The two second half changes did nothing. We have ended up with a bottom heavy squad with too many defenders. Why sign Jacob Mensah and not play him? Where is Ali Omar (not that I am bothered)? There’s no point of difference in our squad that can change a game. If that continues, then we will struggle to stay afloat. 







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