In the 2003/04 season, Barnet met Burton at Eton Park early in the season. Barnet were 13th in the table with just one win in their first four matches, an opening day 2-0 win over Telford at Underhill. Burton were 8th, having won both their away matches, but had yet to win at home.
Barnet’s manager, Martin Allen had taken over as full time manager in the summer, having been caretaker since March following the departure of Peter Shreeves and he had initiated a huge clearout of the playing staff during the summer and had assembled what was a hungry, largely young new look team, with experience in many key places. Allen had signed the experienced former Tottenham and Notts County defender, Ian Hendon from Peterborough as his new captain. Hendon had been at Underhill during the previous season for a short spell on loan from Sheffield Wednesday and had taken to the club and the fans had taken to him.
Allen had also signed the former QPR central defenders, Danny Maddix and Chris Plummer. Plummer had been the target of a number of league clubs but had chosen to be part of the Barnet revolution instead. Up front, Allen had signed Bristol Rovers’ charismatic striker, Giuliano Grazioli as part of the deal that took the previous season’s leading scorer at Underhill, Junior Agogo, to Eastville.
Grazioli had already scored 3 goals in 4 matches, but Barnet had only taken 6 points so far and for the Burton game, Allen made two changes bringing in former Brentford player, Mark Williams to play on the right side of midfield and the versatile youngster, Ismail Yakubu on the left side. Mark Rooney and Tony Taggart were dropped.
Burton’s former Tottenham and England winger, Andy Sinton had the first chance of the game, his shot saved by Barnet keeper, Danny Naisbitt, one of the few Barnet players to survive from the previous season. Grazioli lobbed over soon afterwards following a goalmouth scramble. Yakubu, playing on the left hand side of midfield for the first time was proving to be a success causing the Burton defence problems and came close to putting the visitors ahead when his volley was cleared off the line by Burton striker, Christian Moore.
Soon after, Burton keeper, Matt Duke pushed away, Chris Plummer’s overhead kick and then tipped over from Ben Strevens’ follow up effort. It seemed only a matter of time before the Bees scored and on 36 minutes they went ahead.
Yakubu was the instigator, bursting into the box from the left hand side before cutting inside and laying the ball back to Grazioli who could only, at first, knock the ball into the air. However, Graz somehow managed to hook the ball over Duke, with his back to the goal, and into the net to put Barnet ahead. It was his 4th goal of the season.
Half Time: Brewers 0 Bees 1
Almost straight after the restart, Burton went down to 10 men after striker, Christian Moore was sent off for elbowing Bees’ midfield player, Lewis Hogg in the face. Soon after, Barnet went 2-0 up thanks to an astonishing own goal. Following a long ball up field from Ian Hendon, Burton defender, Terry Hamshaw sliced the ball back towards his own goal from 25 yards and saw it loop over Duke’s head into the net.
Mark Williams almost made it 3-0 when he was unlucky to see his shot pushed away by Duke after being put through by Hogg, but he was involved soon after when Barnet did go further ahead. Williams collected a pass from Ben Strevens and played an excellent ball inside the Burton defender to Ian Hendon on the right and Hendon crossed the ball back to Williams who had continued his run and he played the ball across to Grazioli at the back post to slot his shot into the back of the net for his second goal of the game and his 5th of the season.
Williams almost made it 4-0 soon after with Barnet in total control of the game, but blasted over when well placed and Strevens saw his long range shot saved by Duke. With 7 minutes remaining, the home side suddenly came to life when Danny Naisbitt was called upon to make a brilliant save, tipping Craig Dudley’s scorching drive over for a corner. From the corner, Robbie Talbot was left unmarked in the penalty area and he headed home to bring the score back to 3-1.
A couple of minutes later, Steve Chettle headed home another corner to make it 3-2 and the Bees suddenly had to weather a stormy last five minutes. However, they held on for their first away game of the season. The win took Barnet up to 8th place in the table and began a run of 7 wins and 1 draw in the next 8 matches which took them up to 3rd in the table. At the end of the season, Barnet gained a play-off place by finishing 4th, but lost out to eventual play-off winners, Shrewsbury, in the semi-final. Burton finished 14th.
Barnet: Naisbitt; Hendon, Plummer, Maddix, King; Williams, Hogg (Saunders), Gamble, Yakubu (Rooney); Grazioli, Strevens.