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Goodwill in short supply after a disappointing defeat…  By: Max Bygraves 02/11/2022
Southend United
0 3
League 01/11/2022
2022-2023 Attendance: 2704 (1446)

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Legitimately, people were excited about the fixture with Southend. Both the league and form table set it up as an interesting clash against a former regular local-ish adversary from better days for both clubs. A win and maybe we could continue to look up. On the night, it was a sobering thump back down to earth.

The signs felt promising on arrival at the ground. It was strange seeing all the blocks of the away end occupied, but added to the sense of occasion. There were actually people walking up Camrose Avenue twenty minutes before kick off that you could tell were going to watch a football match! These are not regularly seen scenes.

On arrival in the ground, we were pleasantly surprised to see four people serving and no queue at the bar. A pint with enough time before kick off; a treat indeed. This was tempered slightly with my friend coming back from the toilet having had to tiptoe out, explaining that the place was, “swimming with piss,” with some hapless staff scrambling to sort it out. Can’t win ‘em all.

It was a fairly bright start to proceedings. A few early corners and some attacking play. The line up suggested we were looking to go for it. Early on, the biggest frustration was not testing their keeper more. You felt a mistake was there from some dubious punching and kicking, had he been put more in the firing line.

After the first 20 minutes however, hopes began to fade. Southend took ahold of the game, their number 7, Jack Bridge, in particular causing all manner of problems. Interestingly, it wasn’t makeshift left wing back Idris Kanu coming under any pressure, but Ben Wynter was being given a torrid time on the other side.

We needed half time to come with us still unscathed. After a good save from Walker and riding our luck through a series of corners, the deadlock was finally broken on 40 minutes. There could be few complaints.

You felt we’d need something particularly inspiring at half time to turn it around. Whatever was said certainly didn’t have the desired effect. It was a turgid, painful second 45 minutes and a hard watch. At 0-2, keeping it respectable felt like the main aim. Southend did look very strong, for all our shortcomings.

A fine save from a Shields half volley was the only glimmer of any sort of second half hope. We could find no way through a solid back line. Whilst at the other end, an extremely naive, late challenge by Collinge gave away a needless penalty for them to confirm the points.

Their raucous away following were savouring every second half moment. 1446 of a 2704 crowd. A comfortable outnumbering which felt fitting given the gulf on the pitch too.

In fairness to some of the younger supporters in the home end, there were some efforts at creating some atmosphere and noise in the first half, but enthusiasm understandably waned as the game went on. It was definitely the loudest it’s been this season, albeit for a short time.

By full time the home end looked considerably sparse and the travelling contingent made their way down to the gangway at the front to celebrate. Two advertising boards were removed in what was clearly a bit needless - but by no means any sort of violent - joviality. One chap who’d made his way over the barrier after the penalty also found himself on the wrong side of two stewards and saw an early exit.

Advertising board vandalism aside, it would be hard to say one wouldn’t look at a bouncing away end like that with a bit of jealousy and (albeit on a lesser scale) some nostalgia for times gone by during successful seasons. It’s hard to imagine a Barnet following of much more than half that size anywhere, anytime soon.

Those who did stay until the end saw Darren Currie come straight over from their bench to applaud the Barnet fans. He got a good ovation as you would expect. A nice moment on a miserable evening.

There was so much that was poor about the performance that it could be a whole new article on tactics, shape, formation and what have you. Not really what we do though, so we won’t go into it, but as many others have identified, we are crying out for a second centre forward. Not much punditry needed to call that.

We have no option of changing the dynamic up front and playing with two if we’re chasing the game nor can we give Kabamba any sort of rest. He was full of running and work as ever but with little service or anything coming to fruition last night.

It could well be a double week of making up the numbers at The Hive. We host a buoyant Chelmsford City side this Saturday in the FA Cup 1st Round. They dispatched of Aldershot comfortably in the previous round and it would be a surprise not to see a four figure following behind that goal from them. Will we beat the 626 home fans in the previous round? It’d be an optimist who’d predict much more another hundred on that.

The main man for the visitors currently is Charlie Ruff. He’s from Friern Barnet originally and was with our youth academy for a number of years. His older brother (who also played non league) was in my class at primary school and I can remember Charlie as a toddler on our school playground being better with a ball at his feet than most of us at nearly secondary school age.

He’s done well at the level below for a long time and whilst I’m pleased to see him flying in the National League South now, we really don’t need the predictable script of local, released lad coming back to haunt us on Saturday.

It’s going to be a tough battle. Last night would suggest we may need to continue to be used to flitting between brilliance one week and frustration the next. It could end up being that sort of season. Let’s just hope the abject nature of last night’s defeat is not something we have to become regularly accustomed to once more, nor feeling even less like we’re at ‘home’.

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06/03/2024 Bring Barnet Back
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