Barnet travel to Macclesfield tomorrow to play at Moss Rose in what will almost certainly prove an emotive game following the sad and untimely death of Silkmen midfield player, Richard Butcher. His tragic passing will cast a shadow on tomorrow’s game and will put into perspective the relative importance of an ordinary League Two match. I’m sure that all right thinking fans’ thoughts will be with his loved ones at kick off time tomorrow.
Right, on with the game and Barnet come into the match after having remained unbeaten in the last two matches. No mean feat in what has been a thoroughly disappointing season for the Bees. This is only the second time this season that the club has managed to take 4 points from 2 matches and also follows a 3-1 success in our last away trip, at Bradford City, which was our first away win of the season and indeed, since a 2-1 win at Darlington last March. That it came on the heels of the departure of Mark Stimson was, perhaps, properly symbolic given the former Barnet managers lack of success on the road with the Bees and Gillingham.
Since Stimson’s departure, caretaker manager, Paul Fairclough has been quick in his efforts to sort out problems within the squad. Grant Basey, Craig Dobson and Danny Hart have been released, while Kevin Gallen and George Francomb have ended their loan deals with Luton Town and Norwich City respectively. Fairclough had wanted to extend Francomb’s loan deal with the Canaries but it was not to be. Basey has signed for Peterborough.
Fairclough has brought in Portsmouth and England under 19 goalkeeper, Liam O’Brien to bring some much needed competition in the goalkeeping position and he has, rather surprisingly, replaced Cole in the team for the last two matches and with four points taken from those games, it would be difficult to criticise it though it does seem hard on Cole who has saved the Bees so many times since he arrived at Underhill in 2009. Cole’s loss of a first team place has fuelled speculation that he might be about to depart.
Fairclough has also brought in highly rated right back, John Dunleavy from Wolves and former Port Vale captain and midfield player, Tommy Fraser. Fraser will definitely start tomorrow and could well be joined by Dunleavy who was on the bench for the Shrewsbury match and could be a very good replacement for Francomb, particularly as Fairclough has, rightly in my opinion, moved Joe Devera to centre back. Fraser will hopefully add some much needed steel and competitiveness to the Bees’ rather ailing midfield, though many fans feel that there is still a lack of creativity in this area of the park, particularly since the premature end of Mark Byrne’s loan deal from Nottingham Forest. Former Wigan trialist and striker, Ivan Sunday has been given a squad number too after having been training with the Bees and is likely to be on the bench tomorrow. He had been due to play in the postponed Herts Senior Cup match against Hadley on Tuesday and will, no doubt, play some part in the re-arranged fixture, whenever that may eventually take place!!
Macclesfield have lost their last three home matches and indeed have taken just a single point from their last five league matches, a run which has seen them fall to 19th, just three points above the bees, so a win for Barnet tomorrow will see us draw level on points, though the Silkmen have a better goal difference. The home side will be without defenders, Carl Tremarco and Shaun Brisley. Barnet are still missing Steve Kabba, though the Bees’ striker should be back in contention for a place soon, while Darren Dennehy, Daniel Leach and Ricky Holmes, who is out for the season, all remain long term injuries. The Barnet side tomorrow could look something like this:
Dunleavy Devera Uddin Parkes
Southam Jarvis Fraser Marshall