Season Review: April & May
Feature by Jaybee
Updated Thursday, 17th June 2010
Barnet Mad looks back on season 2009/10
Barnet came into April in slightly better form than they had been and 11 points clear of the relegation zone. Three wins and four draws in 10 matches may not be startling form but it would be enough to stay up if the Bees maintained that kind of form over the last nine matches of the season.
Barnet were slightly unlucky to lose away 2-1 at Hereford, but with Grimsby losing as well and now with just 7 matches in which to claw back those 11 points, a couple more wins would surely see Barnet safe. A fine 3-1 home win over Chesterfield on Easter Monday saw the Bees give their one of their most convincing performances of the season with Paul Furlong back on form with two goals, his second a stunning bicycle kick which flew into the net from Albert Jarrett’s cross. Even Furlong’s missed penalty which prevented him scoring his first ever hat trick for Barnet didn’t put a damper on the day. However, Grimsby won 3-2 at Accrington after having been 2-0 down at half time and seemingly all but relegated.
Having played so well against Chesterfield, a side pushing for the play-offs and now having won a respectable four wins in 12 matches, Barnet suddenly imploded as they embarked on the worst spell in an already disappointing season. As Grimsby Town’s form improved and they started winning matches, Barnet lost and lost and lost. The Saturday after Chesterfield, Macclesfield came to Underhill and won 2-1 despite a wonderful Ed Upson strike for the Bees. Upson, on loan from Ipswich, was one of three players arriving at Underhill and was strangely underused despite looking a talented player. The much heralded arrival of New Zealand international winger, Chris James, added further bemusement to the Barnet fans about the methods of Ian Hendon. James came on for the last few minutes of the game against Chesterfield and promptly disappeared back to the subs bench and was not used again by Hendon. Ben Wright, a striker arrived from Peterborough and was barely used, though Barnet fans may have taken this as a blessing as he looked woeful.
Amidst all these strange goings on, Hendon was unable to stop Barnet’s season from getting even worse as fans were beginning to start thinking the unthinkable; that relegation back to the Conference was looking not jus possible, but distinctly likely. A heavy 4-1 defeat at Dagenham & Redbridge, with Daniel Leach, back from a loan spell with Dover, giving away two penalties and getting sent off, could have proved even worse but for Jack Lester scoring tow goals as Chesterfield managed a 2-2 draw at Blundell Park after Grimsby were 2-0 up early in the second half. Even so, the gap had been cut now to 7 points.
Barnet gave a much improved performance away at Bradford City on the Saturday with Albert Adomah’s goal putting the Bees ahead and they held the lead for a long time only for two late City goals to dash the fans hopes. With Grimsby losing 3-0 at home to Torquay, a win would have secured League Two safety for Barnet.
A 1-0 home defeat by Rotherham, coupled with a win for Grimsby saw the lead cut to four points and after Barnet squandered their game in hand at Accrington with a 1-0 defeat, chairman, Tony Kleanthous stepped in and terminated Hendon’s contract, with Paul Fairclough taking over the team’s reins once more as caretaker manage for the last two matches. Having taken Barnet up to League Two from the Conference in 2005, Fairclough knew how vital it was that the club avoided dropping back out of the league this season.
As fate would have it, Barnet travelled to Blundell Park to play Grimsby on the penultimate Saturday of the season. A draw would be enough to secure League Two safety for the Bees. A win for the Mariners would mean that relegation wouldn’t be decided until the last Saturday of the season.
As it turned out, it was Grimsby who won the match, a 2-0 victory that cut Barnet’s lead to one point with one game remaining. Mauro Vilhete came on as a substitute and became the youngest player to play for Barnet in a league match at the age of 16.
So everything hinged on results on the last Saturday of the season. A win for Barnet would be enough to secure their safety whatever Grimsby achieved. Likewise, if Grimsby lost then even if the Bees lost as well they would be safe. At least Barnet’s fate was in their own hands.
It was a bright sunny day and Underhill had a nearly full house with a cracking atmosphere as the home fans got behind the Bees against a Rochdale side that had already been promoted. Barnet dominated the game but could not just get that first goal to settle them down. As it happened, it turned out not to be important, as Grimsby were 2-0 down at Burton Albion at half time and, unlike against Accrington, the Mariners could not come back this time and eventually lost 3-0. As full time approached, Albert Jarrett fired in a shot from the edge of the area and found the Rochdale net to give the Bees a 1-0 win to confirm that Barnet would be playing League Two football next season. With Cheltenham only drawing, Barnet eventually finished in the dizzy position of 21st!!
The match against Rochdale ended up having a somewhat carnival atmosphere with the players treating the fans afterwards to a ‘lap of honour’ and it was nice to see Yannick Bolasie back at Underhill to support the Bees. However, it was distinctly depressing to think that a few months earlier, talk of the play-offs were in the air and by the end of the season, fans were just glad that the club stayed up.
Following the Rochdale match, 15 players were released, Albert Adomah turned down a new contract offer and the arrival of the new management team of Mark Stimson, Scott Barrett and Michael Stone ushered in a new era at Underhill.