Tidy new Barnet for a spiffy new season

by on 08/08/05 at 9:34 am

Stood On A Box writes It was a perfect day for football; a bit sunny, a bit cloudy, and not too hot. And we didn???t have to go too far.

The pitch looked like a snooker table, though probably one in a youth club that had had 4 inches sawn off the legs at one end. The Gasheads gathered at the bottom of the slope, and also outside the ground because Barnet hadn???t really heard of ???away fans??? for the last few seasons, and their arrival in the Football League meant they had many more urgent things to take care of than turnstiles.

Barnet started smartly and went close in the first minute. ???Alan??? Shearer produced a good stop, and generally looked the part when called to make a few assertive interventions in the first quarter of an hour.

I didn???t see all of it because my son got bitten by a wasp, but it looked to me like they were thoroughly enjoying their first quarter of a match in League Two. Anderson was enjoying it rather less. He got some kind of biff in the nose, and was replaced early doors by Craig Hinton.

Since last year Rovers have replaced a good keeper with a good keeper, and have otherwise made few changes. It showed. The team looked just like it did last year (apart from Shearer being less of a pie connoisseur than his predecessor), and it played like it too. When we got the ball, that is.

The rest of the first half passed fairly uneventfully. Barnet played pretty decent passing football, working together well as a team, but didn???t really create much at the sharp end. Rovers looked organised at the back, and Junior looked capable and isolated at the front.

The second half started in much the same way, except that Shearer came down in front of the Gasheads and one of them asked him, very loudly, to make sure we lose the first 6 six games ???so we can get rid of that Atkins bustard???.

Someone round me said that Barnet always like to play downhill in the second half, and they were warming to the task as the half wore on.

They didn???t find it easy in our box though. Edwards was solid in the air, and Elliot was ubiquitously reliable. Robbie Ryan wandered out of position once or twice, but we saw very little of little Grazioli (who looked to me to be a pound or two rounder than last time we saw him). Well, apart from one blast from outside the box that went about as high as it went far.

The midfield, however, was as enigmatic as ever. Tricky Dicky Walker???s trick for the day was to hide under Harry Potter???s invisibility cloak, and drag in Campbell and Bass for most of the game. Disley was the only one able to put a foot on the ball, but he did there were 3 men under the cloak so very few options open.

The weather was still comfy, and the football mildly diverting, when Barnet scored (or maybe Rovers conceded) a soft goal. The ball was put through to their centre forward, who was marginally ahead of two defenders. Shearer came, but didn???t get there ??? his first and only mistake of the day. The defenders narrowed the angle, and the striker put in a soft shot that trickled between the defenders and just about made it across the line.

The Barnet fans were, understandably, ecstatic, while the Gasheads had been quiet for the last hour. Barnet had had a few efforts, and finally one paid off. Now, with about 10 minutes left, we had to try to generate some efforts of our own.

The Gasheads demanded Rhino, and Atkins (surprisingly?) obliged. Rhino is at least someone who can put a foot on the ball, and his introduction co-incided with a bit more effort from Rovers ??? probably the first time in the match that we???d dominated possession. The referee also seemed to change his approach to the game, and finally gave a few decisions our way. The tide was, very briefly, turning.

Rhino got the ball out on the left with about his fourth touch on the ball, and spun it across into the middle. It bounced back out, and Rhino got his fifth touch. He knocked a similar cross back in, spot onto the head of Manuel Junior, who was standing unmarked at the far post. Manuel nodded it down past a stranded keeper, and we had our first thing of the day to cheer about.

The last 5 minutes was a bit of fun at both ends, but honours were pretty even at the end. Barnet looked like a solid side which shouldn???t struggle, but could do with a bit more bite at the front. We looked the same as we???ve looked since Christmas.

Walking out, I noticed two large police vans head towards a spot where about a dozen of the boys in luminous green jumped out. I don???t know what was happening, but hope that the good burghers of Barnet weren???t being given a rude re-introduction to League football.

Further up the road, the best party of the day was happening in a car. Five people were playing and singing along to Ben Gunstone???s ???Tote End Boys??? very loud. They were having real fun. The rest of us had only been mildly diverted.

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