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Woeful Wednesday
Anyone seen the drawing board? By: Max Bygraves 23/11/2023
Barnet
Oldham Athletic
1 4
League 22/11/2023
2023-2024 Attendance: 1799 (234)




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If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, I really don't care for us wearing amber (if we want to kid ourselves) and black shirts with white shorts and socks. I know there are exceptions, but to me, it always stinks of a bad one about to happen. It proved no different here.

If Wednesday night football was a bit disorientating for those of us in the stands, it didn't initially appear to be that way in the early exchanges on the field. Barnet started by far the brighter of the two teams, with an attack-minded line up - Kabamba, Hooper and Stead all in from the off. Stead excelled in the wide left role, going close with an early effort which he just failed to put enough curl on. It was something of a surprise to see Hooper playing so deep. Pace and fitness aside, there can be no dispute he's still got a bit of magic in his feet. Some great touches and link up play.

However, as has crept in as a bit of a feature in games since what now feels like the heady days pre-mid October, our final delivery was lacking. Oldham set up well and remained very compact throughout, but any joy we had on the flanks led to nothing when it got into the box. Both on the floor and in the air, efforts were dealt with comfortably by an uncompromising Oldham back line.

Midway through the first half, on pretty much the first attack from the visitors, a calamitous moment at the back led to Fondop (who caused problems throughout) ending up through on a near open goal. Having not yet had the benefit of seeing it back at the time of writing, it appeared that Laurie Walker made a last man tackle just inside his box with what appeared to be his head, to trip the Oldham number 9.

The referee was straight over to point to the spot and brandish a red card to the Bees number one. No sub keeper on the bench. A potential death knell for the game as a contest... Then, a reprieve. In the ground, it wasn't clear what led to it but the decision was quickly rescinded from red to yellow, much to the displeasure of those from the north.

James Norwood stepped up and predictably dispatched the penalty. A striker way too good for this league. Oldham fans would have felt justice was only half done. Apparently, the referee was playing to the penalty rules which he briefly forgot. Can anyone confirm? Answers on a twitter based postcard.

0-1 down having bossed much of the game, heads didn't initially drop too much. There was a response. Prior to half time, an offside goal and a Kabamba header bounced back off the bar. There looked more fight and hope than on Saturday, but we went in trailing at the break.

The second half started in much the same vein as the end of the first. Barnet on top, but finding a way through was proving difficult. An opening finally was carved on 55 minutes. Kanu was brought down in the box and unlike Stead's claim in the first half, this was met with the referee's approval. Given.

Harry Pritchard grabbed the ball before there could be any debate who was taking the responsibility. A thumping effort drew Barnet level. Pritchard was straight to get the ball out of the net, little celebration, it was clear what the aim was here.

And then. Oh dear.

The last half an hour of this was the kind of collapse we've got used not to seeing in recent times. On the scale of what it's normally like being a Barnet fan, we're all aware that the last eighteen months or so has exceeded the norm - but this felt miserably familiar. Like when you've not been unwell for a while, forget how horrible it is and then get absolutely pole-axed by the flu or something, and it's even worse than you ever remembered. That's what the 62nd minute onwards of this was like.

Perhaps most sickness inducing was the defending on show for not one, but three further Oldham goals. Fondop's strike to make it 1-2 was very well finished, but the amount of space and time for both the creator and finisher were criminal. Walker will have been disappointed to be beaten from there, too.

Ade Oluwo has not yet returned to the Rolls Royce centre half we appeared to have prior to his injury. Well and truly bullied by Norwood one on one, the striker then calmly finished past Walker to effectively kill the game with a quarter of an hour left. No changes we made did anything to change the tide. We had plenty of the ball all night, but did little with it and looked especially unlikely once 1-3 down. Even Hartigan was guilty of one of the most half-hearted, feeble attempts on goal ever seen.

Salt was rubbed in the wound as the clock hit ninety. From the moment Norwood surged into our half out wide, despite having the numerical advantage, you could sense what was coming. A well placed pass and excellent finish by Hallam Hope turned things into a rout. Again, defensively, it was all very lax.

Understandable that most decided now was the time to take their leave. The referee having the audacity to signal eight minutes was a cheek. The highlight of stoppage time for those of us who did stay was watching the time tick round on the new screen to 99:59 only for the referee to blow his whistle before we could see if the screen would malfunction if it hit three figures. That's where we were having to find entertainment and humour by this point.

Whilst the boisterous support from Greater Manchester saluted their side and serenaded them down the tunnel, the Barnet post-match huddle didn't look the happiest of places. A few players seemed to have their say, before a very sheepish turn and applause from most of them to the dwindling few who'd stayed on.

There's no way to dress this up other than disappointing. Oldham, like our last two opponents, are a side I think will likely be in the shake up at the right end come April. However, if we want to ensure we are, we are going to have to arrest this current slide pretty quickly. What looked like a tricky month on paper, has turned into something of a nightmare. Yes, we'd all take being 2nd at this point, but given where we were a fortnight ago looking ahead to Chesterfield, it does all feel like quite the fall.

I don't know if the next game is the worst possible or best possible in this current scenario. Wealdstone and their peculiar following will be as up for it as ever, especially baying for blood in light of our recent wobble. One senses it could go one of two ways. The occasion and opposition's desire gets to us and we have an even less enjoyable afternoon than we did there two seasons ago. Or it's a backs to the wall, gritty, dogged, slightly horrible battle which we edge out with a goal off someone's arse from one of Cropper's long throws.

You imagine there will be further tinkers and changes from this line up to try and rediscover that spark which was so evident not all that long ago. We are not at crisis point, but a fourth defeat in a row would have understandable alarm bells ringing all round - especially with a two week league break to follow Saturday's fixture. We don't want to come back to it in mid-December in 3rd place and looking over our shoulder.

Whilst motivation and indeed appeal to visit that godforsaken place on Saturday may be lacking somewhat now, I'd urge anyone considering to take the gamble and back the team. Things could all feel very different by Saturday evening again. Brennan needs to find what's missing again pretty quickly, but this hasn't just suddenly became a bad team. Picturing scenes of a late Barnet winner down our end and us all going cuckoo...




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All Articles By This Author:

Date 
21/02/2024 Shot Down
14/02/2024 Simon Clist
04/02/2024 Unpleasant
10/01/2024 Daggers Defeated
31/12/2023 Nine Point Christmas
24/12/2023 Merry Sixmas
17/12/2023 Stuck In A Jam
30/11/2023 Barnet & The FA Cup
26/11/2023 Back To The Stone Age
23/11/2023 Woeful Wednesday
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Date 
21/02/2024 Shot Down
20/02/2024 (South) Underhill
04/02/2024 Unpleasant
20/01/2024 Barnet Rivalries
10/01/2024 Daggers Defeated
31/12/2023 Nine Point Christmas
24/12/2023 Merry Sixmas
17/12/2023 Stuck In A Jam
30/11/2023 Barnet & The FA Cup
26/11/2023 Back To The Stone Age
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