MATCH REPORT: BARNET vs OXFORD UNITED
FULL TIME SCORE: 2-2
Summary: A game which was played at full throttle for the whole ninety minutes resulted in a probably fair two all draw; all the fans present were treated to end to end stuff awash with chances and lone Striker Jake Hyde scoring two. The game started off very brightly for the Bees with Hyde looping a header in from a Mark Byrne cross. Unstirred, the visitors did not waste any time in getting an equaliser and, almost immediately after the restart, Sean Rigg volleyed past Stack with Constable getting the assist. Then, Oxford scored once again, only forty four seconds after the start of the second half when Peter Leven’s free kick was met by the head of Andrew Whing. Nonetheless, Barnet deservedly equalised when, after a mazy run, Ricky Holmes crossed the ball for Hyde to comfortably tap in. There was to be late drama late on, however, when on the third minute of injury time an Oxford header was brilliantly tipped onto the post by Stack before rebounding off the other post and eventually being cleared by Pearce. Drama at its best!
Barnet were in need of a confidence boost after a 4-1 thrashing to Morecambe on the previous weekend and they got the morale boosting goal that they desperately needed only two minutes into the game when Hyde managed to latch onto a Mark Byrne cross and loop the ball cleverly into the back of the net. Admittedly, it seemed to as if he had tried to play the ball into the middle of the area instead of aiming for goal, but that is irrelevant. This early euphoria was short lived, though, with Oxford striking back almost immediately after the restart through a well executed long ball routine: the ball was thrown deep into the Barnet area and James Constable assisted Sean Rigg who duly volleyed the ball into the bottom left corner. Nonetheless, this setback did not perturb Barnet’s rhythm too much and they continued to dominate the game with John Nurse close to latching onto a low Hyde cross. A few minutes later, another Byrne corner almost caused another goal with a Holmes volley being cleared off the line and then a Kamdjo header knocked away in the same attack. As the half came to an end, Oxford managed to break out of their shell and created a few chances with Simon Heslop coming close in a long range effort that curled away from the top corner.
Thankfully, Barnet managed to immunise these late Oxford attacks and went into half time with the score level and the Black and Amber army probably the better team. Even with Davids out through suspension, it looked like the Bees were the more likely team to snatch a few goals in the second half.
Unfortunately, however, Barnet did not come out of the tunnel ready for the second half with all guns blazing and it seemed that the players had been having a nap while Robson and Davids were giving their team talk; only 44 seconds into the second half, Oxford’s Andrew Whing secured his first goal for the club heading past Stack from a Peter Leven free kick. This early shock kicked the Bees back into life and for the next twenty-five minutes they put great pressure on the Oxford defence, constantly attacking. Despite all this pressure, though, they simply could not capitalise on their efforts. Nevertheless, their tribulations finally paid off in the seventieth minute when Holmes went on a characteristic run before crossing it low for Hyde to easily tap in. The win was on. Oxford had different views though and one notable moment was when Pearce scooped the ball into the air towards Stack due to the pressure he was receiving from the Oxford attack; in order not to concede, Stack caught the ball and, to the horror of many Barnet fans the referee called for a back pass. The decision seemed to be very controversial considering that Pearce had only meant to hook the ball away and had not aimed to get it back to Stack but Stack organised a resilient wall and the chance eventually came to nothing.
After this chance there were few intense moments and when three minutes of extra time were signalled it seemed like the game would finish tepidly. It was Barnet, however, and there seems to always be some sort of commotion in anything they do. On the third minute of injury time, a free kick was swung in and an Oxford player managed to get a strong head on it; the ball looked to be going into the top corner but Stack pulled off a miraculous save and finger-tipped the ball onto the post. The ball then bounced onto the other post before finally being sprayed out by a relived Pearce.
Overall, it was a great game of football and the result seemed to be a fair one, even if the refereeing decisions were arguable at times!
Graham Stack: 7.5 - Brilliant save at the end to salvage a point. Not at fault for other two goals
Barry Fuller: 7.25 - Has steadily improved to become one of the most reliable members of the squad. Another solid performance.
David Stephens: 7 - Once again, a solid performance. Never lets the side down.
Krystian Pearce: 7 - Same as Stephens.
Jordan Brown: 6.5 - Helped in the build up for the second goal but his place in the squad is now under pressure from the young Elliot Johnson and at times he seemed a bit anonymous in the game.
Andy Yiadom: 7.5 - Had some very promising moments and is still improving. Can see him being a core member of the squad in the future (if he stays at the club).
Mark Byrne: 7 - Got an assist through his corner for his first goal and even if he is still out of form, he’s slowly improving.
Clovis Kamdjo: 7.25 - A very Kamdjo-esque performance but seemed to sometimes make a few silly mistakes. Nonetheless, an integral member of the squad
Ricky Holmes: 7.5 - One of the few players who was risking taking on the opposition players. Caused them problems
Jon Nurse: 6 - Generally anonymous. Had good spells but drifted in and out a lot
Jake Hyde: 8 (MOTM): Scored a double and was involved in quite a lot of link up play. Good to see him relieved of his goal drought.
Olly Lee: N/A - Did not have enough time to prove himself