Akurang to make New Year debut for Bees

Last updated : 01 January 2008 By Jaybee

In the first match of 2008, the Bees travel to Wycombe Wanderers. Wycombe are currently 7th with 39 points from 23 games. They have been highly fancied in the last two seasons to get promoted but after being amongst the front runners for much of the time have tailed off both times to finish mid table. Last season they finished 12th and took just one point off Barnet in their two matches together, the two sides drawing 1-1 at Adams Park, Liam Hatch opening the scoring for the Bees and Tommy Mooney equalising, while goals from Dean Sinclair and Magno Veira cancelled out a Scott McGleish opener for Wycombe as Barnet won 2-1 at Underhill on the last day of the season. Wycombe are managed by the former Celtic and Scotland player, Paul Lambert who has previous managerial experience at Livingston. First team coach is former reserve team coach at Barnet, Ian Culverhouse.

Earlier this season, Barnet won 2-1 when the two sides met at Underhill, with goals in the second half by Liam Hatch and Jason Puncheon after Wycombe had led 1-0 at half time through John Sutton.

Rab Douglas is recalled in goal for Wycombe as Frank Fielding's loan spell has finished, while midfielder Gary Holt may return after a virus. Tom Williams has joined Peterborough United on a free transfer. For Barnet, skipper Ismail Yakubu returns after missing the Chesterfield game because of a one match ban. Barnet's new striker from Histon, Cliff Akurang makes his debut in place of the departed Liam Hatch.

In goal there has been a lot of competition between Scott Shearer and Jamie Young. Shearer, was signed in the summer from Bristol rovers, but spent most of last season on loan to Shrewsbury Town. Young was signed from Reading in the summer, but previously had league experience on loan to Rushden & Diamonds. He played against the Bees at Underhill in 2005 when Dwane Lee took the ball off of him and rounded him to score the first goal in Barnet's 2-1 home win over Rushden. However, both goalkeepers have suffered long term injuries and will be out for several months. Rab Douglas is on loan.

At right back is former Brighton player, Russell Martin who joined Wycombe in 2004, but only became a regular first team player last season. The two regular centre backs, former Aldershot Town player, Will Antwi and former Torquay defender, Mike Williamson are both long term absentees for the Chairboys. Lambert has brought in experienced former Dundee United defender, David McCracken who played over 200 times in 7 years for the SPL side and former Gillingham and Southend player, Leon Johnson. Craig Woodman was signed in the summer from Bristol City.

At left back is a player Bees fans will know well. Sam Stockley made nearly 200 first team appearances for Barnet between 1996 and 2001 after arriving from Southampton. He left following the club's relegation from the league and signed for Oxford United. Stockley subsequently made over 100 appearances for Colchester United before moving to Adams Park in 2006.

In midfield, Stefan Oakes was previously at Notts County and Leicester City joined Wycombe two years ago and played a big part in last season's Carling Cup run to the semi finals scoring twice. The popular Argentinean, Sergio Torres joined in 2005 but has been in and out of the first team since. England Youth international, matt Bloomfield was signed from Ipswich Town in 2003 and has made over 100 appearances for Wycombe and was voted players player of the year in 2006. 34 year old, Gary Holt has loads of experience with Kilmarnock in the SPL and Norwich City playing almost 200 times for the Canaries. He joined Wycombe in the summer from Nottingham Forest. Another experienced arrival in the summer was Martin Bullock from Macclesfield Town. Bullock spent 8 years at Barnsley making over 200 appearances and made over 150 appearances in 4 seasons at Blackpool. He was a regular first team choice in 2 years at Moss Road for Macclesfield. Tommy Doherty is on loan to Wycombe for the second time from QPR. He made 23 league starts for the Chairboys last season.

Up front is another former Underhill favourite, Scott McGleish, who joined the Bees in 1997 from Leyton Orient and scored 37 times in 134 league appearances for Barnet before moving to Colchester United in 2001. McGleish was a regular scorer for Colchester and Northampton Town from whom he joined Wycombe last season. Scott scored twice at Underhill last season, one for Northampton in the FA Cup 2nd round when Barnet won 4-1 and once in the corresponding match for Wycombe at the end of the season when Barnet won again, this time 2-1.

One of the stars of the Wycombe side has been Jermaine Easter who has attracted a lot of attention from clubs higher up the league. Easter scored 24 times for Wycombe last season including against Chelsea in the first leg of the Carling cup semi final when Wycombe held the premiership giants to a 1-1 draw. Jermaine joined Wycombe from Stockport County in the January 2006 transfer window for what seems now a bargain £80,000 fee. Easter was named in the 2007 League Two team of the year. However, Easter has been on loan to Championship side, Plymouth argyle and is expected to sign permanently in the January transfer window.

Lambert signed John Sutton from St.Mirren to bolster his squad in the summer. Sutton, who was previously at Millwall and Raith rovers, scored 28 goals in 2 years with the Paisley club and has become a regular first team player since Easter went on loan to Plymouth.