MATCH REPORT: BARNET FC vs PORT VALE FC
FINAL SCORE: 0 – 0
Summary: A clinical striker was the missing piece in the jigsaw for the Bees after a largely dominant display all round the field ended with them only receiving one point. The first half was all about Barnet with abundant crosses flashing past Vale ‘keeper Neal’s penalty area. Yiadom was causing a lot of havoc while the midfield trio of Oster, Davids and Byrne were conducting the tempo of the game very well often spraying out very good balls. By the half time mark the Bees could have easily found themselves two or three up but they were struggling to convert any of the many chances that they had produced. The second half was a much more even affair and both chances had their fair share of chances; a John Oster shot was miraculously tipped over the bar by Neal while, on the other side of the pitch, prolific striker Tom Pope saw his header hit the inside of the post. The Bees also had a goal ruled out for offside but it seems that this was a fair considering that Oster’s corner which resulted in the goal was ruled to of gone out of play. Overall, it was a very pleasing performance especially because Port Vale are top of the league and hopefully it can lead to a result against York next Saturday!
Before this game, on a Barnet forum, I had predicted (in a jokey manner) that Barnet would come out 4 – 0 victors; in hindsight, this wasn’t actually too silly a prediction taking into account the Barnet performance. The Bees were the better team on the day but credit must be given to Port Vale who managed to scupper the constant waves of attack from Barnet.
I arrived at Underhill five minutes after the game had started due to the excruciatingly slow Rail Replacement Bus services that I had taken. Fortunately, however, it seemed that I had not missed anything of great importance. Even so, after five weeks away from Underhill, I’d forgotten what good football Davids had instilled into the team and it was pleasing to see a team in a relegation scrap easily outplaying the team top of the league. The ball was being stroked around the grass elegantly and players such as Yiadom were causing terror in the heart of Vale’s defence. In fact, after only around fifteen minutes and with good chances from the likes of Yiadom, Byrne and Hyde, I felt that the score line could have been one or two nil in favour of the home side.
This is not to say though that the league leaders posed no threats. The dangerous Myrie-Williams was inches away from giving the away side an undeserved lead when he shot wide from a one-on-one situation. Nonetheless, aside from this one good chance, they did not pose anything particularly threatening for the first forty five minutes: Pope, who has already scored twenty-five goals this season, was kept very quiet by the formidable duo of Iro and Stephens. The same can be said for the rest of Vale’s attack who, although maybe not as notorious as Pope, have terrorised League Two defences all season but stepped short when faced with the Barnet back four.
The second half was much more evenly matched than the first and both sides had their chances. The Bees were first to come out of the blocks and Oster, after receiving a breathtaking through ball from Elliot Johnson, had his shot brilliantly saved by Neal.
After around an hour, Vale finally began to get into their stride and show why they are on route to win the league. A good ball from Myrie-Williams was met by the head of Pope only for the ball to cruelly hit the inside of the post and fall for a relieved Stephens to clear. Barnet had stopped playing the brilliant, easy on the eye stuff that they had displayed in the first half and had instead reverted to defending regular attacks from the opposition and giving the ball away once they’d won it in a style that is annoyingly familiar to Lawrie Sanchez’s Barnet last year.
The Bee’s did have a goal disallowed but this is not as controversial as it sounds; the linesman immediately put up his flag when Oster took his corner for the ball going off the pitch meaning that all the Vale defenders stopped functioning and gave Iro a free header to dispatch. Still it was at least a chance.
After a thrilling yet goalless ninety minutes, the referee blew up for full time and left fans of both sides to reflect on the game. Ultimately, it was probably a fair result but Barnet were definitely the better team playing wise and could really do with someone like Pope or the controversial Hughes.
Graham Stack – 7.5: Barely anything to do and was confident when he was needed.
Elliot Johnson – 8.5: One of the best performers. Has a very bright future. Good at both going forwards and defending
Andy Iro - 8: Very solid. Will be sorry to see him go
David Stephens - 8: Same as Iro.
Barry Fuller – 7.5: Perhaps not as brilliant as he was against the likes of Bradford but was very solid and did nothing wrong.
Andy Yiadom - 8: Cause real havoc in the first half and the Bee’s main threat. Drifted out of the game slightly in the second half.
John Oster - 9 (MOTM): Brilliant. Intelligent whenever on the ball and someone who can be relied on.
Mark Byrne - 8.5: On another day he could have been MOTM. Did most things well and his best performance in a Barnet shirt for a long time.
Jon Nurse - 7: Nothing like a disastrous performance but one can only imagine what Holmes would do if he had replaced Nurse. Found himself in good positions but sometimes wasteful on the ball.
Edgar Davids - 8.5: Good leadership-wise and playing-wise. Vale were scared of him.
Jake Hyde – 7.5: Made lots of good contributions but not attacking enough to fit the missing striker role that we really need.
Ibra Sekajja - 6: Barely anything to do when he came on but when he was needed he often overcomplicated things.
Curtis Weston – N/A: No impact.