MATCH REPORT: BARNET FC vs. OXFORD UNITED
FULL TIME SCORE: 0-2
Summary: Barnet’s run of three consecutive games without losing, or even conceding for that matter, was abruptly stopped by a strong Oxford team which dominated large chunks of the match, resulting in a deserved Barnet defeat. The Bees had managed to stay strong for the first half and went into the dressing room with the score goalless; however, on the fifty-sixth minute, after some slightly sloppy defending, James Constable broke the deadlock from a Peter Leven corner. Matters then turned from bad to worse when Sean Rigg took advantage of a James Constable through-ball and duly slotted the ball away to Cowler’s despair.
Affairs at Barnet Football Club have been on the up recently since the arrival of Edgar Davids and, as my two friends and I entered the familiar grounds of Underhill Stadium, I was convinced that another win was imminent and that the trend that had become apparent in recent weeks would continue: the skies were clear, and although it definitely was not summer weather, a sense of optimism permeated the stadium. Of course, however, all of these feelings were to be proved wrong…
As the habitual announcement of the players in each team were read out by the man at the tannoy, it became clear that Barnet were not playing anywhere near their full strength team. The Davids-Robson duo had made four changes to the squad that had miraculously managed to pull off an impressive win against promotion chasing Chesterfield. The most notable of these changes was the fact that young talent Sam Cowler had replaced Graham Stack and that Collins John was playing as a replacement to the already Barnet legend that is Edgar Davids. Furthermore, former captain Jon Fortune was back in the side, as well as Curtis Weston and Olly Lee.
From the moment the game kicked off, it was obvious that Barnet were the second best team on the pitch, and, in a fashion to which Barnet fans are accustomed, they struggled to get any form of tempo and often reverted to old fashioned long balls. Conversely, Oxford was made to look like European Champions, playing neat football, tying knots in the Barnet defence. This led to an early chance which, fortunately for all Barnet fans, did not bear fruit and resulted in an extremely wayward shot which flew out of the stadium. Despite the lamentable execution of this chance, it was a show of things to come and over the next fifteen or so minutes, Barnet were bombarded by The Yellows (or The Light Blues, considering they were wearing their away kit).
It was only after around twenty minutes that Barnet really began playing and a clever through ball to Collins John created a half chance but there was no-one in the box to square it to. Nonetheless, it was progress. Soon after this, John was on the receiving end of another through ball and, unselfishly, weaved it through to Clovis Kamdjo who fired agonisingly wide from around twelve yards out.
Eventually, after what can only be described as a disappointing first half with relatively little clear cut chances from either side, Barnet went into half time, pondering the dismal first half that had just taken place. Nevertheless, they were still on route for a fourth consecutive clean sheet and supporters were still hopeful of the recurrence of the happy events that occured last Saturday.
These optimistic thoughts were in vain, however, as Oxford gained further control over the game and it was only a matter of time before Oxford took the lead through a teasing, in swinging corner by Peter Leven which was met by the head of James Constable.
Not even this was enough to wake up the Bees and they were really struggling to create anything which resembled some sort of attack. Instead they laid back and let Oxford do all the attacking. Not the cleverest of ideas. Even so, this plan seemed to be working until the eightieth minute when Sean Rigg latched onto a perfectly weighted through ball from James Constable, which he efficiently tucked away.
The score was now 2-0 to the visitors; a fair result. There were a few moments of brilliance from the Barnet players, such as when Yiadom went on an adventurous run and managed to beat a handful of players, only to make a mistake on the easiest of passes. Moreover, spectators were treated to a great piece of great skill from Olly Lee but, predictably, this amounted to nothing.
Overall, the right team won and hopefully, we will have a much stronger team on Tuesday when we play against Torquay which is, ultimately, a much more important game. Despite that, it was a very disappointing display and not one which I took much pleasure in witnessing.
Sam Cowler: 6 - It would be harsh to say he was at fault for both of their goals but he seemed to lack the presence that Stack creates and at points seemed a bit nervy.
Barry Fuller: 6 - Made a couple of crucial tackles but was often out of place at certain times.
Jon Fortune: 5 - Was good to see the return of the former captain and he was useful at some points but made a few sloppy passes and looked slightly uncomfortable at points.
Danny Stephens: 7 - As usual, a solid performance. Seems unbeatable in the air.
Jordan Brown: 6.5 - Did not do too much right or wrong.
Olly Lee: 6.5 - Had good moments and was not afraid to shoot but there is still something lacking from his game.
Mark Byrne: 5 - Was quite anonymous throughout the course of the game.
Curtis Weston: 5 - Similar to Byrne. Was anonymous and when he did get the ball he tended to lose it.
Andy Yiadom: 7.5 - By no means did he have a spectacular game but he posed a threat whenever he got the ball and was one of the only players who tested their defence.
Clovis Kamdjo: 8 - An ever reliant member of the squad who was comfortable when on the ball and created most of our chances. Man of the Match
Collins John: 4.5 - Was quite slow moving around and consistently lost the ball. Still seems unfit to play. On the other hand, got into good positions for our main chances.
Edgar Davids: 6 - Although not spectacular, his overall presence adds something to the squad. Sensible with possession.
Jamal Lowe: 5 - Did not make an impact
Iffy Allen: 4 - Did not notice him