Barnet V Lincoln City was billed by LCM as the Npower league 2 Cup final. Though it did not attract the 15,000 of Bradford City and Stockport County its ability to enthrall and entertain yet again should see the game enshrined. Furthermore the fixture should be moved to the summer next season after notching up another six goals to add to the previous 40 in the last nine. That way anyone in London for the 2012 Olympics will be able to feast on proper English football in all its glory. Indeed should they choose to do a quid a kid again, perhaps Wembley ought to be the venue for a feast of football with everything but the prawns. Clearly when these two meet passion is always the fashion, with a healthy ration of goals to boot. That as much as cash will always be the lifeblood of the peoples game.
Ladies and Gentlemen your attentions please, let us first acknowledge the thespians and artisans that toiled this day at Underhill, then move onto the game and finish with the facts & Stats.
The Teams & Schemes
Dunleavy Uddin Devera Parkes
Deering, Hughes, Jarvis Marshall
McLeod (Yellow) Kabba (Yellow)
Substitutions: Stimpson on for McLeod (84)
subs 12 Stimpson 13 Cox 18 O’Brien 19 Pamboe 21 Kamdjo 27 Vilhete 28 Frazer
Lincoln City 4-4-2
Kelly Hone Watts Hunt (Yellow)
Howell O’Keefe Fuseini McCallum (Yellow)
Substitutions Carayol on for O'Keefe (75) Ben Hutchinson on for Grimes 89 Spencer on for Facey 90.
Subs 1 Anyon 2 Green 7 Carayol 19 Clapham 27 Hutchinson 39 Spencer 40 Kanyuka
But to the Match Footy fans to the Match………..
The Bees chose to charge downhill first half, to exploit the weakness of the Imps down a flank, weakened by the omission, through injury, of Hoyte. He knows North London well does the on-loan lad from Arsenal, but alas he was injured, replaced by the naïve Kelly. With, by his own admission, an out of position midfielder Howell to aid him against quality and pace, this solution was never going to help his or the Imps cause as the Bees prepared for Custers last stand from the pinaccle of their sloping pitch. Chief Bee Fairclough, drawing on all his England C managerial experience, exploited it to the full with man of the match Marshall and Deering fleecing our flanks time and again.
One look at a heavy sodden pitch perhaps suggested the pace and invention in this one had to come from wide and Barnet were oh so quick to stake their claim for a place in League 2 next season. The Imps first half uphill struggle saw Barnet not only get to go down hill first half, but also to curiously start proceedings. From the very kickoff the ball found the mercurial Marshall, he beat Howell and Kelly but could deliver just an early warning, as his overhit cross was clasped by Carson. Marshall then won a corner, the first of a series of set pieces we would or should have learned to fear. The first went actually went well as Carson got a hand to it and found Hunt who found McCallum. The Imps winger charged up the flank to feed Grimes in a whirlwind counter, but alas his rising drive from the edge of the box was wide.
Barnet’s second corner started a nightmare on Elm Street franchise for the Imps. Marshall, more a wasp than a bee given the stings he has in him, won it and took it. His well measured sixth minute set piece to the near post, saw danger man Steve Kabba beat Hone and Howell far to easily, to power home a header straight down the middle. Nine minutes later Marshall again outfoxed our right sided two and played to Parkes who was tripped by Ali Fuseini, as he moved across the 18 yard box ready for a dig. Kabba slotted just inside Clever Trevor’s left hand post, as he alas made for his right.
This was more one way than a Chelsea board meeting as Devera crashed a towering header against the bar. Deering, the Bees other talented winger, was only stopped by Hunt sending him A over B with Marshall thankfully wasting at least one set piece. Hunts challenge seemed to galvanise the Imps who began to fight for the right to play. Watts – we are talking millimetres here – headed a fabulous Fuseini free kick just over. Then Delboy tried one from distance that bee keeper Cole palmed thankfully over his bar. From the corner we were nearly routed had McCallum not taken one for the team when he dragged McLeod to the floor. Some feat that Mad Dog, some feat.
Not as much of a respite as we would have hoped though. For once we appeared to have dealt with the aerial threat, however Kabba regained possession and laid a side footer to across that said ‘hit me to three unmarked Bees on the edge of the box. Hughes took up the option curling a delightful 20 yarder just inside Carson’s left hand post. 3-0, 38 minutes on the clock and the 544 Imps spirits looked more drained than their hip flasks. But their hearts and lungs would soon have the moments we craved but not before the Bees nearly made it four or five. Deering was denied by Hunt at the expense of a corner. Marshall caused havoc again and Jarvis cushion headed down to McLeod who in excusably stabbed wide. Hughes then went close to joining Kabba on a brace with a thunderous header against the post.
Nearly is a big word in football, with the Stevie T demanding we turn up, revert to the game plan and then see what happens? That there were no changes by either side beggared belief given the frenetic opening 45 minutes. Then again let us not forget the history, nature and scoring prowess of this game of this game. And down hill the Imps charged from the off, although Deering on the counter nearly made it four, but for Hunt laying life and limb on the line with a block.
The Imps immediately made the most of the let off with Fuseini, to the right of the centre circle, threading a ball out wide to Grimes, who took a touch before playing an angled ball into the run of the advancing Howell. Howell showed why he could the answer to our central midfield woes with a wondrous run and first time strike for his first Imps goal. The charge gathered apace now with Grimes going close after a great run and cross from Hunt. Facey then conjured a peach of a cross that Grimes swept home on the half volley from six yards. 3-2 game on.
It just got better and better for the resurgent Imps. McCallum’s corner was a little short, Watt chested down and has he was running away from goal, got a needless nudge in the back from Uddin. When a side is 3-2 down with a penalty to take it is the pivotal moment. Score and you will go onto win, miss and the home side will come back to finish you. Goal machine Grimes, fresh from garnering the 13th to his name, did nothing wrong hitting just inside Coles left hand post. But the Bees leaping keeping hero, Cole clawed back to save not just a penalty but perhaps Barnet’s very Football League existence, with a fine stop to be fair.
The Imps hearts were still not broken but Barnet were now coming back into the game as the gung-ho end-to-end match continued to ensue. The Mercurial, mesmerising Marshall, would be the difference, deservedly so it must be said after an unplayable display on the day. The worker bee showed Kelly a clean pair of wings and pollinated proceedings with a glorious diagonal cross that McLeod ghosted in to tap home at the far post. 4-2 and there was no way back or further forward for tired limbs on both sides.
Not wanting to leave the huge travelling support to too sour a taste in the mouth Tilson brought on Mustapha Carayol for Josh O'Keefe on 85 and then Ben Hutchinson and Scott Spencer to replace Ashley Grimes and Delroy Facey, with Oxford on Tuesday clearly in mind. Carayol had a had a couple of moments including a wonderful caveat and cross that both Ben Hutchinson and Scott Spencer swung at but missed when you just know Grimes would have made it 14 no sweat.
The Bees played well and deserve their win against an Imp side that naively underestimated the desperation and therefore hunger of their hosts on a pitch that makes it hard. Though we lost it first half – surprise, surprise, the Uphill half, two positives show this football club will endure, survive and thrive. Firstly the fantastic support of 544 Imps who made the trek – many youngsters albeit at a quid a kid, that suggests the future is bright. Secondly the two new investors who are looking to put substantial funds in the club will know that even after going 3-0 down our team has the potential to match our fight.
Barnet 3 - 0 Lincoln City (HT 3-0)
Barnet scorers: Kabba 6 & 15 (pen) Hughes 38 McLeod 68
Imps scorers : Howell 47 Grimes 50 Missed Pen
Att 2226 (1702 Bees 544 Imps)
Possession Barnet 51% Lincoln City 49%
Shots on target Barnet 8 Lincoln City 6
Shots off target Barnet 3 Lincoln City 4
Corners Barnet 7 Lincoln City 4
Fouls Barnet 12 Lincoln City 9
Yellows Barnet 2 Lincoln City 2
Offsides Barnet 4 Lincoln City 2
Corners Barnet 7 Lincoln City 6
Saves Barnet 2 Lincoln City 2