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This Is Getting Better And Better And BETTER!
In the week we sadly lost John Motson (it had to be a quote of his for the title), Barnet bounce back with a result that would have had the great man reaching for all the superlatives… By: Max Bygraves 26/02/2023
Aldershot Town H
25/02/2023   (Click date for match details)
League 2022-2023
W  4- 1
KANU '75
Attendance: 1991  (200 Away)

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On Thursday, came the sad news of legendary commentator and national treasure, John Motson, passing away at the age of 77. Met with sadness and respect by football fans across the country, this was news with even more significance for Barnet fans; with our much loved, best known famous fan being no more.

Motson became a Barnet fan from his early career stint at the Barnet Press, prior to beginning his work with the BBC in the late 1960s. During his time at Barnet, he got to know the team well. His ‘breakthrough’ moment came in the famous Hereford v Newcastle FA Cup tie in 1972.

I came across a great story this week about that day. He was taken to and from the game by Barnet legend Billy Meadows (then of Hereford), also accompanied by Ricky George who was the match winner on the day – but also had turned out for the Bees. After that iconic FA Cup afternoon at Edgar Street, Meadows drove Motson and George back to his house in North London. The three of them sat in Meadows’ living room, eating fish and chips whilst listening to a vinyl record of American Pie, waiting to watch themselves all back on Match of the Day. A star was born.

The minutes’ applause for Motty before kick-off was warmly participated in by both sets of fans. A true legend of the game in this country, the voice of many generations and someone for Barnet fans to be proud of. May he rest in peace.

Onto the game, only one change from Tuesday with Brennan choosing to stick with Kabamba and Smith, despite the much pointed out ‘Smith paradox’ around his goals being great but the team’s results not quite matching. You can totally understand why both are in the side. Two very good strikers with strong records. The only issue I saw today was Kabamba being forced wide at times. You have to feel given what he’s done for the side so far this year, being asked to play out of position to accommodate others perhaps seems a tad unfair. But then, today it got the result…

Following a good spell of pressure, Barnet took the lead on thirteen minutes with a cool, nonchalant finish from Harry Pritchard. I’m still not having that he was the scorer of our second goal on Tuesday, but it’s on his record, so today made it eleven for the season. It was a confident strike that seemed to go in in slow motion. Player of the season come May is going to be a hard one to call, and I don’t think he’ll win it, but Pritchard’s contribution really can’t be underestimated. A serious asset, thankfully playing further forward today where he looked a lot more comfortable.

Not a lot else to report on from the first half, Barnet generally the better side but Aldershot looked like they could do something if afforded the opportunity. One of the main talking points for The Wardrobe and I during the first half was the away end. They used to regularly bring 500+ to Underhill in our earlier Conference and then Football League clashes. Aware they’re having issues with their owner, but very surprised by the small, quiet away support from a previously consistently and noisy contingent. I hope they get their issues sorted. I don’t particularly like Aldershot, but they’re a proper sort of team for this level.

They showed they were a proper team in the playing respect with a fantastic equaliser early in the second half. A superb through ball down the left hand side was taken on by their winger, who jinked inside and laid off to their ‘shit Jack Grealish’ (Glover) who coolly slotted home. Whilst disappointing, you couldn’t be annoyed with that one. A bloody good goal.

With Tuesday still very much fresh in the memory, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one fearing the worst at this point.

However, just six minutes later, it was six in six for Harry Smith. A lovely deft, weighted cross from the right hand side was met with the big man’s head to restore Barnet’s lead. I saw a superb analogy this week of his signing being a bit like the Faustino Asprilla one at Newcastle in 1996 when they blew the Premier League title. A top player who adds something, but perhaps doesn’t fit the team. Whilst I’m all for any references to the much fabled Tino, I think we all need to slow it down a bit before judging Smith. He’s doing what he came in for, to a huge extent, let’s just hope we can continue to utilise him for the best outcomes all round.

Immediately after this goal, a planned change went ahead but with a last minute difference. Kian Flanagan had been getting ready but he soon had his jumper back on and it was Sam Woods who replaced Nicke Kabamba. The Bees number nine didn’t look thrilled to be coming off; and you can perhaps appreciate his frustration. He’s been the main man and been consistently excellent. His attacking play and close control in the first half of this one again stood out but he’d been mostly out wide and given limited opportunity to do what he does best. Brennan will have to manage this one carefully to get the best out of everyone during the run in.

Sam Woods, elevated from ‘questionable’ in my book to having the freedom to do as he pleases after that display against Chesterfield immediately came on and hassled the opposition. Once again, he appeared to have something of a forward facing, nuisance free role.

I will say at this point that both The Wardrobe and I had money on 2-1 Barnet, given the history of that happening in the fixture. Not to go as far as through gritted teeth, but it did initially feel a little unnecessary when Idris Kanu made it 3-1 with just under quarter of an hour left. It was a terrible finish and woeful goalkeeping. In a game of exquisite finishes, this one was very much the ugly sister – but they all count.

Shortly after his goal, Kanu was also replaced. Whilst him and Kabamba have contributed superbly this season, I am going to pull them both up on not clapping the fans when leaving the field. It’s a tiny gesture, insignificant to some, but important in my book. Credit to Harry Smith for not completing the hat-trick of no clapping when he went off at the death.  Courtney Senior came on for Kanu and within seconds, his delicate, dinked finish after racing through made it 4-1, making the win look very comprehensive indeed. A lovely goal and a good confidence boost for the new signing.

Nonchalant, deft and delicateall used to describe Barnet goals here. It was definitely sexy football in this one.

Strangely, I would argue we looked better in the first thirty minutes on Tuesday against Altrincham than at any point in this one. The first proper hammering we’ve dished out score-wise, yet it didn’t really feel like one. Whatever it felt like though; it was a crucial three points and hopefully backs the ‘wobble’ notion alluded to in the last article.

Onto Oldham on Tuesday (which will unfortunately be a rare home miss for me this season, so no write up coming for that one and Southend on Friday (which I will be at, Oldham at home being part of the collateral for a Friday night out in Essex) – two big games. Results today keep things looking positive all round. Full steam ahead from here… 

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