Skip Navigation Links
Skip Navigation Links
QUICK LINKS LEGENDS RECORDS OPPONENTS SEASONS STATS WALL CURRENT SEASON
ARTICLE OTHER ARTICLES

Ctrl-Alt-Bees
Scorchio! By: Max Bygraves 10/09/2023
Barnet
Altrincham
3 0
League 09/09/2023
2023-2024 Attendance: 1676 (102)




This article has been viewed 731 times.

On a sweltering September afternoon, in conditions as extreme as I can remember for a regular season game, self-proclaimed (on a flag) 'Non-League Royalty,' Altrincham, were the visitors to The Hive. It would very much prove to be fun in the sun on the pitch, but those matchday experience niggles and a disappointing attendance figure made the dominant performance all the more pleasing, and necessary.

Altrincham are certainly something of a Non-League institution. Following some time away from the top of the pyramid in the 90s and 2000s, they've re-established themselves in the fifth tier in the past few years. Turning professional in 2022, they appear to be a stable club competing at arguably their natural level. Dogged by similar problems to us in terms of the difficulty of attracting supporters due to some very high-profile neighbours, there definitely feels some common ground. 102 of them made the long trip south. They didn't make much (or any, really) noise, but then, they didn't have much cause to.

This week, the build up to the game had been all about the 'Football For A Fiver' promotion the club were running, for season ticket holders of other London sides to attend cheaply. The marketing was relentless midweek, with all of the players clearly being asked to share via their own socials too. One big push. A short but concerted effort, there was optimism it would see a decent take up.

Any first impressions to new visitors in Legends Bar before the game wouldn't have been ideal. There was a video on Twitter that was mysteriously deleted quite quickly with a fairly damning caption to go with the footage of an exceptionally long queue, predicted by the same poster in advance of the game. Sadly predictable, unfortunately. Things did see an improvement in there later on at least. It did feel though that perhaps the 'build it and they will come' type attitude that's been a disappointing constant for so long was still very much there once we'd got anyone additional through the door. As we'll go on to, the football was great, but it didn't feel like there was anything extra to grab the hearts of prospective new fans.

Anyway, to the game. Despite the stifling heat, we were very quick out of the traps and clearly keen to make an early impact. Within the first five minutes, Kabamba should've but somehow didn't, score from extremely close range. A strong spell of pressure followed with four consecutive corners and in the tenth minute, it was Danny Collinge's 4th goal of the season - a powerful header from a Coker cross - that opened the scoring.

Altrincham responded to an extent but we continued to take the game to them. Barring one incredible tackle by Collinge following some less than impressive defending prior to it, we always looked the more likely to score next.

A great chance for this came just after the half hour mark. Former Bee Justin Amaluzor gifting us a penalty with a slightly unfortunate, but blatant, handball. Harry Pritchard stepped forward, with a chance to open his account for the new season following a slow start in front of goal by the incredibly high standards he set last year. It was the ideal confidence-boosting chance; but it wasn't to be. The keeper guessed right and palmed the ball back out, only for the Barnet number fourteen to head the rebound wide. It will come. And if there's a player who deserves the patience and backing of the fans, it's certainly him.

Before half time, two arguably more obvious calls for penalties were not given, namely a clear shirt pull all of three minutes after the first. The referee had a torrid final period of the half. Perhaps doubting his earlier decision, an awful lot of very cynical stuff from the visitors was waved on. How we either didn't get another chance from the spot or they didn't have someone sent off before half time was baffling. Amaluzor (who does he think he is with Justin on the back of his shirt by the way!?) was particularly lucky to avoid any sanction for his boot connecting with Ben Coker's face.

Dale Gorman had a similar scenario to last week, whereby a spectacular goal was just inches away. This time it was off the bar rather than forcing the goalkeeper into action. A Kabamba header also provided a near miss but after fifty-four first half minutes, the score stayed at 1-0. Totally in control, but having felt that way when Altrincham last visited in February, caution was required going into the second half.

The break didn't appear to greatly help either side. All round, for the first twenty minutes, it all went a bit flat. The players on both sides appeared to be wilting in the heat, and even The Amber Battalion had all sat themselves down for a quiet breather.

Barnet had knocked on the door a few times before finding the second. It was thanks to a lovely, sweeping team move and goal that woke everyone up on and off the pitch. An incredibly unselfish, perfectly weighted pass by Collinge into the feet of Zak Brunt resulted in the second goal. Zak Brunt had been 16/1 with Bet365 pre-match for the first goal. Where do you suppose a number of £5 bets within our group had gone? Inevitable he'd get in on the act at the wrong moment. The goal, play before it and much of what followed once again emphasised just how well this team can play football. We are serious this season.

On this note, each game at the moment it seems to be someone else's turn for the honour of a DSH paragraph of acclaim, today is no different. We have to pause here to talk about our FIFA Golden Boy 2018 Nominee wearing the number 4. Daniele James Collinge. What a player. Now a goalscoring centre back who is becoming the dominant force at both ends of the pitch. His passing, positioning and movement are simply quality. This new role where he becomes an additional overlapping attacking player on the right-hand side. A joy to watch. I don't know what it is or where he's supposed to be, but I feel like that's part of the magic. The Collinge free role.

Way, way too good for this level. As my esteemed colleague The Wardrobe pointed out today, he is perhaps the greatest Brennan find of them all, given where we got him from and the trajectory his once promising career appeared to be taking. Fair to say it's going very much the other way now.

Mindful of what I say after eight games - but are any of you getting 'that' feeling about this team, and how things may go from here? The last twenty minutes were a saunter. By the end it was 'ole' time. It was never in doubt, if anything, it was mildly frustrating not to add more than just a final one for good measure at the end. We were in cruise control and looked like if we needed to, we could hit the accelerator and do more damage as needed. It feels very similar to home games I watched in the September of 2004 (Morecambe, Gravesend) and 2014 (Altrincham, funnily enough). Might be a coincidence. But I can't be the only one with these thoughts...

It was stand-in captain Nicke Kabamba who got the third and his sixth of the campaign. An easy finish at the back post, but nonetheless, good to keep the tally rising and continue his contribution. Following a lively run out at Boreham Wood, it felt a little harsh that Calum Stead didn't get a chance to run at a tired defence who just wanted to go home. It's a long season though, opportunities will come for him and others.

There was a real buzz in the stand as the usual top of the league songs were enthusiastically joined in with and Depeche Mode blared over the PA system at full time. As above, there is a feeling certainly creeping in that this team have the potential to do something special. One game at a time, but things are looking good.

The attendance over the tannoy of 1676 was a slight damp squib at the end of a fine afternoon. 1574 home fans was actually a slight drop on the previous attendance against Ebbsfleet, in spite of the ticket promotion.

To dissect this a bit, it was only announced at four days' notice. Enough for an impact, but not perhaps to the extent and reach it could have been. Perhaps it was a case of many seeing 'Football for a Fiver' but then not being season ticket holders of London clubs and dismissing it. Could it have been a more all-encompassing initiative?

Some clarity on whether memberships to other clubs would have counted (this was only mentioned as an acceptable criteria on a club tweet the morning of the game) in advance or widening it to season tickets at any club, could have also had a more positive impact. These are all things you'd hope will be reviewed by the club in the post-mortem of this one. I would be fascinated to know exactly how many £5 tickets were sold.

What this can't be, is an excuse for the chairman to turn around and say 'told you so,' with regards to promotions not working. As in the reasons just outlined, this was not a totally straightforward one and consideration will need to be made as to whether it was indeed the right target market. How many season ticket holders of Premier League clubs can feasibly afford to spend at least £22 (plus food, drink, travel/parking...) on a trip to another team when their side aren't playing? In the current financial climate, perhaps the tradition of a 'second team' is a luxury many can no longer afford, if they want to watch their main side at a premium.

Very much one to pick ourselves up from and look at what can be done next time. There are loads of further opportunities to try things out coming up. Two Tuesday games in October that have the misfortune of clashing with Arsenal in the Champions League. Two games in October half term. Two games during the November international break. The product on the pitch is attractive, but let's hope there's not the usual shoulder shrugging type attitude towards really pushing to get more people in, just because of numbers for this one.

Lastly, the BFCSA are hoping to run coaches to the next two away games. Driving down Camrose Avenue behind a miserable looking Altrincham coach after the game, I was thinking how ridiculous it is that the team top of the league doesn't take a supporters' coach to away games. Part of it is probably that as it's been so long, people are out of the habit, but it would be great to see this become a regular thing again.

For younger fans, it's a rite of passage into following the team everywhere (many, many happy memories) and for the rest of you, it's good value and takes the stress out of any travel planning or driving! Here are the links for Rochdale next Saturday and Kidderminster on September 30th. Get involved!




Back To Article List

Got something to say? Agree or disagree? Maybe you can write your own? Head to The Mailbox post haste!


All Articles By This Author:

Date 
13/05/2024 Togetherness
29/04/2024 Outfought, Outthought, Out Of Ideas
10/04/2024 Nearly There
25/03/2024 "A Game Of F*****g Demolition"
20/03/2024 Another Step Closer
09/03/2024 Tepid
06/03/2024 Bring Barnet Back
21/02/2024 Shot Down
14/02/2024 Simon Clist
04/02/2024 Unpleasant
1234567


Other Articles By Category


Date 
13/05/2024 Togetherness
29/04/2024 Outfought, Outthought, Out Of Ideas
21/04/2024 The Best Of The Rest
10/04/2024 Nearly There
25/03/2024 "A Game Of F*****g Demolition"
20/03/2024 Another Step Closer
17/03/2024 Card Bored
09/03/2024 Tepid
06/03/2024 Bring Barnet Back
21/02/2024 Shot Down
12345678910...

  All materials on this site copyright Downhill Second Half and its individual authors. Content may not be reproduced without prior written permission. Special thanks to Chris Holland for use of photography and John Snow, John Erroll and Tony Hammond for statistical compilation.

A huge thank you also to Rob Cavallini whose Barnet history books set the basis for our journey to complete all statistics back to the start of Barnet FC.

Club crests, player images, and company logos are the property of their respective owners. They are included in this website for reference purposes only./span>