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2011-2012 As Seen By Eric Hitchmo - Part Two
Recovery from the depths By: Eric Hitchmo 16/05/2012




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"October began as September had left off, with defeat. Gary Borrowdale was recruited and thrust directly into the starting lineup against Northampton where he somehow ended up on the losing side after a last minute goal. The manager described it as ""being mugged"" and for once I had to agree with him as we somehow conspired to lose a game we really should have won comfortably. The omens were not good. The cups would however continue to provide us with some relief and we recorded a fine win at Gillingham in the JPT with a goal from Mark Marshall sandwiched in between two more from Izale McLeod who just loved playing against The Gills, having notched seven in three games. It could have been better had he not missed two penalties in that time. In the league, we continued to stumble, and after another spirited fightback, we managed to concede another 90th minute goal to Shrewsbury Town which cruelly spelt out a fifth consecutive defeat in League Two.

A visit from Aldershot Town was next, and despite falling behind we were able to stop the rot and record only our third league win of the season thanks to a late strike from Ricky Holmes. In the build up to the game, we were told that the squad was good enough despite serious doubts from almost everyone. We were to again fall short at Hereford and the issues were once more exposed and laid bare for all to see as Southend strolled into town and took us apart at will. Izale McLeod skied an early penalty, but from then on it was a procession for the visitors who feasted merrily on the mess that was our team.

Having been told that the squad was good enough not a fortnight previously, the events of the next weekend would conspire to sour many, many Barnet supporters.

The unbelievable 6-3 defeat at the hands of Burton was the point at which the calls for the manager's head had already become noticeably apparent. Not only was it that it was the eighth defeat in nine league games, but the comments which followed were so astounding that it completely alienated a large proportion of the fans. Without going over the events in too much detail again, our manager took responsibility for keeping us up the year previous, in turn referring to himself as a ""magician"" when his role was merely to be a footballing consultant to caretaker manager Giuliano Grazioli. Therefore, according to him, Barnet FC ""owed"" him. Said Magician went on to publically name and shame the back four for their recent performances, in direct contradiction to what had been said previously about the squad being able. He even had the nerve to claim that the squad was inherited and he didn't have the chance to strengthen, despite having taken over in May and stating in August that he was ""pleased with his squad"". The whole saga beggared belief, and my temperature has risen just thinking about it now, let alone the memory of what I felt at the time!

The place was in disarray. Lloyd Owusu was on his way out, Tommy Fraser seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth, Steve Kabba was again injured and we didn't know what in the world was happening with our short, mid and long-term future at, or away from Underhill. It was chaos. According to The Magician, ""There are one or two guys that we have to get out of here"" (yes, that is a direct quote). As a result, two loanees were brought in to try and plug our leaky defence, Michael Hector and Paul Downing. It was certainly eventful if nothing else.

The drama of the ten days previous led to an absolutely foul atmosphere at Wimbledon, laced with bitterness and anger. It was not the Barnet I had come to know and love, rather a horrible scene of in-fighting and bickering. Never in my time supporting Barnet had I seen anything so hostile, with different factions arguing the toss with the away dugout just feet away from us. I was used to standing with these people singing along in unison, and while there were still elements of that, the whole afternoon had disintegrated into an utterly forgettable, yet highly memorable mess. There was also a game of football being played out amongst this hideous backdrop, an improved performance earning a 1-1 draw.

Would you have believed it when this whole sequence of events signalled a change in fortunes? Not likely. Two cup wins were to follow, both away again, the first seeing further progress in the JPT with Cheltenham Town the victims, and those who made the long journey to Southport were rewarded with a sweet last minute victory. Charlie Taylor, returning from suspension having spat at an opposing player was on target in both games for his first goals of the season after a lengthy wait. Jack Saville was added to the ranks to complete an almost entirely new back four. For the first time in the season, we were three games unbeaten, and things were to get even better at Bristol Rovers as yet another goal from McLeod and a beaut from Mark Byrne saw us record a fine victory.

Next up were Macclesfield Town, in the first of an array of games which had been moved to a Friday. I was sceptical to begin with, and I wasn't to be convinced of its merits over the course of the season, especially when many games were moved at short notice. A case in point was the upcoming trip to Torquay United, where many fans has already booked their travel in advance. With supporters still very sensitive with the way the season was going, they did not need their cages rattled any further, and then this happened. A wonderfully typical Barnet FC gaffe. Yet more loanees joined the ranks, with Gavin McCallum joining from Lincoln and Cedric Baseya shipped in from Reading. In addition, Alassane N'Diaye joined on a short-term deal. The squad was becoming unrecognisable from the one we were seemingly happy with just weeks prior. After all that, we beat Macclesfield 2-1 with Izale McLeod moving onto 15 goals for the season. Very nice indeed. The defence appeared sorted and results were on the upturn. Five games in November, four wins and a draw. The Magician had promised change and it was certainly demonstrated to great effect and credit had to be given where it was due for such a drastic turnaround.

When all was said and done, at the end of November we were 19th in League Two, six points clear of the drop, with a second round FA Cup Tie and a JPT Area Semi-Final to look forward to. Perhaps things weren't as bad as they seemed as we headed into December..."




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