2011/12 Season Review: April
Feature by Jaybee
Updated Saturday, 9th June 2012
The latest in Barnet Mad's exclusive new series
Barnet came into April on the back of just two pints from the last five games and just three points above the relegation zone with just 7 matches left to go. The Bees desperately needed a return to league form to ensure that the club would not be left fighting for League Two survival until the last day for the third year running.
What Barnet didn’t need was for the league form to get even worse but, unfortunately, that it was happened. Swindon, the club whom Barnet’s season seemed so wrapped up in, cam to Underhill and completed a league double with a comfortable 2-0 win and this was followed by a defeat of the same scoreline away at another promotion challenger,CheltenhamTown.
The two defeats saw the Bees slip to 22nd but other results meant that they remained three points above the bottom two clubs, Hereford and Macclesfield. However, a small gap was opening up between the Bees and the teams above them with 21st placed Plymouth two points above Barnet.
Nothing seemed to be going Barnet’s way. An Easter Monday win over another promotion challenging team, Crawley Town would have done much to ensure the team’s safety and things looked to be going that way when Ricky Holmes put the Bees ahead in the first half, but despite all over the Red Devils the second goal just would not come and, almost predictably, in the second half Crawley scored twice to take all three points completely against the run of the play. Even in time added on, Barnet had enough clear cut chances to win the game but the goal just wouldn’t come.
Barnet were fortunate that Macclesfield andHerefordhad not taken advantage of Barnet’s dreadful form which had seen the Bees take just two points from the last seven games and so Barnet were still three points above the drop zone with four games left. On the Friday after the Easter weekend, Barnet and Hereford met at Underhill both sides knowing that a win for either could have a major affect on whether they stayed in the Football League or were playing next season in the Blue Square Premier.
Hereford started the game the brighter and went ahead in the first half only for on loan, Ben May to equalise and later on, in the second half, former Bee, Michael Townsend clearly handled in the penalty area, but the one person who counted, the referee, failed to spot it. On such decisions can whole seasons be ruined but it has to be said thatHerefordhad chances to punish the Bees as well and Barnet were grateful to Clovis Kamdjo for preventing what looked a certain goal late on in the game as the match ended with a point apiece at 1-1. Barnet remained 3 points clear of Hereford with 3 games left but Tony Kleanthous decided that action needed to be taken and Lawrie Sanchez, on whom hopes had been high at the start of the season was sacked, astonishingly, to be replaced by none other than Martin Allen, himself relieved of his job at Notts County, to take over for his third spell at Underhill in the hope that Mad Dog could galvanise the players to do enough to ensure League Two football for Barnet next season.
However, the following Friday, Allen’s first game back in charge of the Bees saw Barnet well beaten by a team that has in recent years become something of a bogey team for Barnet as Paul Sturrock’s side won comfortably 3-0 in a very one sided match. With Hereford getting a point and Macclesfield losing, safety was still in Barnet’s hands. Macclesfield were almost relegated already at this point. Barnet had a home match with AFC Wimbledon and an away trip to Burton Albion, two clubs with nothing to play for while Hereford had an away trip to Crawley Town and a game at home to Torquay United both sides hoping for automatic promotion. A win for Barnet against AFC Wimbledon coupled with failure of Hereford to win at Crawley would mean safety for the Bees and no last day agony in order to stay up. Would things pan out that way? Barnet's form was awful, with just three points in the last nine games and no win since early March. Could Martin Allen wave his magic wand and save the Bees?