Barnet pipped for promotion by Scarborough

In 1986/87, the newly renamed GM Vauxhall Conference league offered something completely new. The club that won the league that season would gain automatic promotion to Division Four of the football league. With Barry Fry now at the helm and a new chairman in Stan Flashman, Barnet were looking to greatly improve on their previous showings since being elected to the APL in 1979. However, the incentive of entry into the football league meant that the other 21 clubs in the Conference would also be more determined for success than ever.

During the summer, Fry re-signed Kevin Millett, Bill Baldry and Steve Mahoney who had all move to Maidstone with him the previous year, but who were now surplus to requirements at the Kent club. Strikers, Gary Roberts and Keith Alexander were signed from Brentford and Kettering respectively and keeper, Kevin Blackwell was signed from Boston United only to be resold to Scarborough a couple of months later for ₤3,000.

And Barnet got off to a very good start. They on the opening day match at Kidderminster 3-0 with two goals from John Margerrison and one from Nicky Evans. The first home match of the season saw a 1-1 draw with Welling, Eddie Stein scoring and then a 2-1 away win at Cheltenham with goals from Margerrison and Barry Little. Barnet went top of the table with a 3-1 home win over Fry's previous club, Maidstone with goals from Keith Alexander, Dave Sansom and Glyn Creaser.

A first defeat of the season, at home to Sutton United was followed by three wins on the spin; 3-0 away at Boston where Nicky Evans scored twice, a 2-1 win at Northwich Victoria and a 4-1 home win over Nuneaton Borough with Steve Mahoney grabbing a hat trick. By the time, Barnet met Dulwich Hamlet in the 1stQualifying round of the FA Cup, the Bees were leading the Conference, a point ahead of Maidstone.

Surprisingly, Barnet lost 2-0 at home to Dulwich, who were, at the time, near the bottom of the Vauxhall-Opel League, the renamed Isthmian League. However, they put this defeat behind them with two emphatic performances, winning 5-1 at Gateshead, Alexander and Mahoney both scoring twice and a win by the same score at home to Boston. However, Barnet's form dipped somewhat after this with just one win, at home to Wealdstone, in eight league matches.

In November, Barnet's form picked up again with wins over Frickley, 3-0 with two goals from Nicky Evans, Dagenham 3-1 and Runcorn 3-0 with two goals by Dave Sansom. At the beginning of December, Barnet were top of the Conference with another fine win, this time a 5-2 home victory over Kidderminster with two goals each for Sansom and Evans. However, a 1-0 away defeat at Maidstone, saw them knocked off the top of the table.

Barnet won their 1stround FA Trophy tie, 6-0 at home to another Vauxhall-Opel side, Wokingham Town with Evans scoring a hat trick. This was followed by a 1-0 Boxing Day win against deadly rivals, Enfield in front of a crowd of 4130 at Underhill with Steve Cox scoring with a rocket shot. The return, at Southbury Road on New Years Day, saw the Bees complete the double over Enfield with a comfortable 3-0 win in front of 2002 fans, Alexander, Margerrison and Mahoney scoring.

The Bees followed this up with a 4-0 home win over Northwich, Sansom scoring twice and they progressed in the FA Trophy winning their 2ndround tie with Hitchin Town, another Vauxhall-Opel League side, 5-0 at Hitchin with two goals apiece for Sansom and Gary Roberts after being surprisingly held 1-1 at home.

One misfortune was a broken ankle to influential central defender, Glyn Creaser which kept him out for the rest of the season. Barry Fry stepped in quickly to sign Cambridge United defender, Andy Beattie as a replacement.

Barnet were on fire at this point and consolidated their position around the top of the Conference throughout January and February. They ended January with a 1-0 home win over Altrincham that left them two points behind leaders, Scarborough but with two games in hand.

Into February and Nuneaton were beaten 3-1 with two goals from Nicky Evans and the Bees followed this with a 2-1 home win over Bath City. Barnet then got involved in a marathon 3rdround, FA Trophy tie with Boston United. The original tie was drawn 1-1 at Underhill with Dave Sansom scoring for the Bees. The replay at Boston ended 3-3, Sansom scoring again and Andy Beattie scoring twice. Barnet won the second replay, played at Cambridge United's ground, 3-0 with Sansom scoring twice and Eddie Stein getting the other goal.

In the middle of this epic tie, Frickley were beaten 3-0 away with Evans scoring twice, but following the Boston FA Trophy tie, Barnet's form started to become erratic. A 2-2 home draw with Weymouth was followed by a shock 4thround, FA Trophy exit against tiny Southern League club, Fareham Town who won 1-0 at Underhill. Another draw, this time 1-1 at Kettering was followed by a 1-0 home defeat to Cheltenham. It was Barnet's first defeat in the Conference since the first day in November and it was now the middle of March.

Barnet bounced back with a 1-0 win away at Telford, Dave Sansom scoring the winner and drew 1-1 at Runcorn, but with Scarborough now piling up the points, Barnet's form needed to be consistent and it wasn't. At the beginning of April, Barnet lost their second successive home league match, losing 2-1 to Kettering Town. They then went and won the next two matches, 3-0 away to Stafford, Nicky Evans scoring twice and 1-0 at Bath with Steve Mahoney scoring the winner. These two away wins kept the Bees in with a chance of promotion and they followed this up with a 3-1 home win over Gateshead. However, needing to win at Wealdstone to stay right on Scarborough's heels they gave a nervous display and could only draw 0-0. When they met Stafford Rangers at the end of April, they were three points behind Scarborough but with a better goal difference. However, they needed to win both of their last two games and hope that Scarborough lost one of their's. However, it was Barnet who lost, going down 2-1 to Stafford at Underhill and Scarborough ended the season winning by 6 points.

However, Barry Fry was not downhearted and neither was Stan Flashman who said that he had enjoyed every minute of the season, especially the fact that the team had scored 86 goals. The question now was, could Barnet go one better next season and win the Conference and promotion to the Football League?

 

SCORERS

Player

 

League

 

FA Trophy

 

Total

 

Nicky Evans

 

22

 

 4

 

26

 

Dave Sansom

 

11

 

 7

 

18

 

Steve Mahoney

 

12

 

 1

 

13

 

John Margerrison

 

10

 

 1

 

11

 

Keith Alexander

 

 9

 

 

 9

 

Gary Roberts

 

 3

 

 3

 

 6

 

Edwin Stein

 

 5

 

1

 

 6

 

Barry Little

 

 4

 

 

 4

 

Steve Cox

 

 

 3

 

 3

 

Andy Beattie

 

 

 

 2

 

 2

 

Peter Brown

 

 2

 

 

 2

 

Glyn Creaser

 

 2

 

 

 2

 

Robert Codner

 

 1

 

 

 1

 

Nigel Johnson

 

 1

 

 

 1

 

Own Goals

 

 1

 

 

 1

 

1

 

Scarborough

 

P 42

 

W27

 

D10

 

L5

 

F64

 

A33

 

PTS91

 

2

 

Barnet

 

42

 

25

 

10

 

7

 

86

 

39

 

85

 

3

 

Maidstone

 

42

 

21

 

10

 

11

 

71

 

48

 

73

 

4

 

Enfield

 

42

 

21

 

7

 

14

 

66

 

47

 

70

 

5

 

Altrincham

 

42

 

18

 

15

 

9

 

66

 

53

 

69

 

6

 

Boston Utd

 

42

 

21

 

6

 

15

 

82

 

64

 

69

 

7

 

Sutton Utd

 

42

 

19

 

11

 

12

 

81

 

51

 

68

 

8

 

Runcorn

 

42

 

18

 

13

 

11

 

71

 

58

 

67

 

9

 

Telford Utd

 

42

 

18

 

10

 

14

 

69

 

59

 

64

 

10

 

Bath City

 

42

 

17

 

12

 

13

 

63

 

62

 

63

 

11

 

Cheltenham

 

42

 

16

 

13

 

13

 

64

 

50

 

61

 

12

 

Kidderminster

 

42

 

17

 

4

 

21

 

77

 

81

 

55

 

13

 

Stafford

 

42

 

14

 

11

 

17

 

58

 

60

 

53

 

14

 

Weymouth

 

42

 

13

 

12

 

17

 

68

 

77

 

51

 

15

 

Dagenham

 

42

 

14

 

7

 

21

 

56

 

72

 

49

 

16

 

Kettering T

 

42

 

12

 

11

 

19

 

54

 

66

 

47

 

17

 

Northwich

 

42

 

10

 

14

 

18

 

53

 

69

 

44

 

18

 

Nuneaton (R)

 

42

 

10

 

14

 

18

 

48

 

73

 

44

 

19

 

Wealdstone

 

42

 

11

 

10

 

21

 

50

 

70

 

43

 

20

 

Welling

 

42

 

10

 

10

 

22

 

61

 

94

 

40

 

21

 

Frickley (R)

 

42

 

7

 

11

 

24

 

47

 

82

 

32

 

22

 

Gateshead (R)

 

42

 

6

 

13

 

23

 

48

 

95

 

31