Sunday, 27 November 2011

Barnet 2 v 1 Macclesfield Town

Friday 25th November 2011
Football League Two
Underhill, Barnet
Admission: £10.00
Programme: £3.00
Attendance: 2200
Match Rating: 4

Friday night league football with ticket prices reduced to £10.00 and an opportunity to return to a ground I visited many times in my schooldays with my Barnet supporting friend but had not visited for over eight years now inspired me to make the post-work trip to north London for this League 2 match.

After a rather unpleasant 45 minute rush hour tube journey from central London to High Barnet, I made my way down to the ground, about a five minute walk. I chose to sit behind one of the goals, in the all-seater South Stand, a new addition since my last visit. The usual cost of a seat here would be £17.00. Most of the rest of the ground has remained unchanged though. Along one length of the pitch is covered terracing, half of which is given to visiting supporters, who are also given a small temporary stand in the north-east corner of the ground - another addition since my last visit. The rest of the area behind this goal is a small uncovered terrace. On the remaining length of the pitch is an elevated old-fashioned all-seater stand, and to one side is a small all-seater stand - by far the most sparsely populated area for this evening's game - and on the other side is more uncovered terracing. With all railings painted in orange club colours, the ground has a very smart look about it and compares favourable with many other grounds in this league with far superior facilities but are possess far inferior character. The 64 page glossy programme was standard lower league fare and was a good read which took up plenty of my journey home.

Despite appointing former Northern Ireland and Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez as manager over the summer, and with a forward line that looks well above average for League Two in Izale McLeod and Steve Kabba, this season has still been a struggle so far for Barnet, perilously close to the drop zone in 21st place, although they have picked up some form recently, ironically away from home, gaining four wins on the spin on the road, two in the league, and two in cup competitions. Macclesfield Town have made a reasonable start to this season, and are much closer to the play-off positions than the relegation zone, and were in 14th place. They were not in the best of form though, picking up just one point from their last three games.

The game started in an even manner, although with a pattern emerging early on of the Barnet players clearly lacking confidence as they often lost possession too easily, whilst Macclesfield seemed quite short of ideas and seemed to rely on grit to get them through the game, and they looked slightly the more threatening in the early stage. As the half wore on, Barnet came back into the game and grew in confidence, and on 40 minutes they had the chance to take the lead, when Mark Marshall sprinted into the box before being dragged down by Carl Tremarco. Izale McLeod confidently struck the ball down the middle of the goal to give the home side the lead. This really seemed to give Barnet the impetus to push on as they mounted a few attacks in quick succession before they were awarded a second penalty just before half-time, given by the linesman rather than the referee, when Sam Deering surged into the box and was brought down by the keeper, Jose Veiga. Up stepped McLeod again and he scored again, this time low in the left hand corner.

A deserved lead for Barnet at half time, and at the start of the second half they controlled the game and there looked like only being one winner.However, just after the hour and completely out of the blue, Macclesfield pulled a goal back when the ball was rolled across the area to Matt Hamshaw in acres of space inside the box, and he smashed home high into the net. Predictably, this gave Macclesfield a lift, but within a couple of minutes they were down to ten men, when an awful lunging tackle by Ross Draper resulted in a red card, as well as a mass brawl. This was probably just what Barnet needed to break up Macclesfield's new-found momentum, and indeed, they saw the game out fairly comfortably for an important three points to lift them away from the relegation places.

Video of first goal:
Video of second goal:

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