Barnet v Altrincham
Vanarama National League
Saturday 23rd January 2021, 15:00 KO
Match Preview - By Ed Painter
After the disappointment of having to withdraw from the FA Trophy, Alty switch their focus back to the National League on Saturday when they make the long trip south to face Barnet.
This weekend’s match at the Hive Stadium will be the Robins’ first game since the 2—2 away draw against Sutton United on January 9, following Covid-19 issues at King’s Lynn Town and within the Alty squad.
In their last outing, Alty had continued to show their ‘never-say-die’ attitude when Connor Hampson’s late screamer against Sutton United saw the Robins leave South London on the 9th with a well-deserved point.
The Robins had taken the lead that day through Toby Mullarkey, but found themselves 2-1 down with seconds to go, courtesy of goals from David Ajiboye and Isaac Olaofe. Thankfully, Hampson’s goal of the season contender right at the death gave the visitors the least they deserved.
And with Altrincham sat fifth in the Vanarama National League table, this weekend’s game provides Phil Parkinson’s men the chance to further cement their place in the play-off picture.
Our opponents this Saturday, who featured in last season’s National League play-offs, losing 2-0 to Notts County in the Semi-Finals, have found things tough this season. Having only played 14 games, the Bees are sat second from bottom, two points above bottom of the league Dover Athletic but having played two more games than the Whites.
In their last outing, all the way back on January 2, Barnet were on the wrong end of a 3-0 home defeat to local rivals Boreham Wood, with a Kabongo Tshimanga double and a goal from Tom Champion doing the damage. To make matters worse for the Bees, defender Myles Judd, who is on loan from Leyton Orient, was given his marching orders after only 29 minutes.
That defeat marked Barnet’s fourth defeat in a row, with their last league win coming all the way back against Weymouth on October 13. Their last points in the league came in the 0-0 draw against Wealdstone. Their disappointing start to the season has also seen a change in leadership, with Peter Beadle being replaced by former Solihull Moors and Macclesfield Town manager Tim Flowers.
Since the arrival of Flowers, the Barnet squad has seen something of an overhaul, especially defensively, with the likes of QPR defender Themis Kefalas, Bradford City defender Ben Richards-Everton and Gloucester City defender Liam Daly all moving to the Hive. There have been outgoings too as defender Bilel Mohsni, midfielder Dean Parrett and striker Inih Effiong have all departed.
With games coming thick and fast, Phil Parkinson’s men will be eager to build upon their good league form and extend their unbeaten run to three.
Last five games
Barnet: DLLLL (F2 A14)
Altrincham: WDLDD (F9 A9)
Watch the game live
Click here to order Barnet’s live stream, at a cost of £12.50. The stream will be live from 14:00, with the pre-match show starting from approximately 14:30.
Listen to the game live on Radio Robins
Barnet FC do not currently allow any radio commentaries, apart from the BBC who have contractual rights, to be broadcast from The Hive.
Radio Robins will broadcast this game remotely from The J.Davidson Stadium.
You can listen to live commentary of this game on Radio Robins, sponsored by Ashley Mowers Garden Machinery, and the broadcast starts at 2.45pm. The match commentary sponsor is Terry Surridge.The commentary team is Paul Salt, Ian Wilkinson & John Edwards.
You can listen to Radio Robins in any of the following ways:
1) By visiting our Match Centre on the club website
2) Download and install the Mixlr app on Android devices from the Google Play Store - start the app and search for 'Radio Robins'.
3) Download and install the Mixlr app on Apple devices from the Apple Store - start the app and search for 'Radio Robins'.
Parky Time, anyone? It was, of course, known as Fergie Time back in the day, when relentless pressure from Manchester United tended to take its toll just as the clock was turning red.
The expression may well have had its roots in a slightly cynical belief that external influences were somehow being brought to bear on the number held aloft by the fourth official at the end of 90 minutes, but it's surely the drama that then unfolded that will go down as the enduring memory of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Old Trafford reign.
More often than not, his team changed the course of the game with their indefatigable spirit and refusal to recognise a lost cause, and now Phil Parkinson’s team are doing the same, albeit at a far lower level.
They had been counted out, to all intents and purposes, in their previous game at Sutton United, when Connor Hampson equalised from 30 yards with a stunning strike that barely left time for the restart before the final whistle sounded.
It wasn’t left quite so late at The Hive, but the four additional minutes were still well underway when Josh Hancock swept an Andy White cutback unerringly past the Barnet keeper to seal the most deserved of 2-1 wins for a side who are winning friends as well as points with their confident, free-flowing style of play.
What a happy knack to have to be able to score decisive goals so late on, particularly when it has nothing to do with luck.
There was nothing remotely fortuitous about either turn of events down in London, at Sutton or at Barnet. Each time, Alty had been on the front foot for prolonged periods, patiently and persistently probing for a way through and never losing faith that they would succeed.
That is the mark of a good team, one imbued with self-belief as well as ability, and this Alty squad is fast turning into just such a team, particularly with the quality Parkinson has added to the core of players who served him so well on the journey through the Northern Premier League and National League North.
They are up there with the big-budget, full-time National League clubs now, and it is becoming increasingly apparent they are not there just to make up the numbers.
Barnet will testify to that, as will so many others before them this season, after the way they were put to the sword for the vast bulk of the 90 minutes then finally finished off in the four that followed.
It’s no exaggeration to say any number of Alty players would walk into the Barnet line-up or that the Robins looked for all the world like the home team, such was the rearguard action Tim Flowers’ side were forced to fight for most of the afternoon.
Even the goal that gave Barnet the lead in the 14th minute was a travesty that came against the run of play and that relied almost wholly on an uncharacteristic but still glaring error by Joel Senior.
When the ball was hacked clear of the Barnet area, Senior took possession just inside his own half, completely oblivious to the presence of JJ Hooper, who took it off him with alarming ease and surged forward to finish coolly past the advancing Tony Thompson.
Before that horror moment and again after it, one Alty player after another tried to engineer room for a shot inside the Barnet box, only for an outstretched leg to get in the way, as the home side defended in numbers.
Dan Mooney suffered more frustration than most in that regard, constantly jinking past one defender or even two but still finding his way to goal blocked when he tried to take aim.
All that changed, and the frustration lifted, when the Alty wide player turned provider in the 36th minute, rolling the ball to Matty Kosylo in a central position on the edge of the area.
Kosylo, a bundle of energy and box of tricks as usual, took one touch to his right before threading a shot with pinpoint accuracy through a crowded area and in off the left-hand post to draw Alty level and bring them some reward for their constant pressure.
They might have gone ahead seconds later, when Senior swung a cross into the area from the right and Byron Harrison met it with a first-time effort that bobbled wide.
It wasn’t the easiest of finishes for the Alty frontrunner to execute, which couldn’t exactly be said of the opportunity he was presented with in the opening minute of the second half.
An exceptional through ball from Alistair Smith put Kosylo in the clear and gave the Alty midfielder the chance to lob Scott Loach, as the Barnet keeper left his line. Instead, Kosylo unselfishly nudged the ball to his right, where Harrison had an open goal and would surely perform the routine task of putting Alty ahead.
To his dismay, he somehow stumbled over the ball, sending it trickling agonisingly towards the wrong side of the right-hand post. A desperate attempt to retrieve it before it crossed the line for a goal-kick proved unsuccessful, and the chance was lost.
If Harrison looked crestfallen and struggled to make his mark after that, his team-mates kept up the tempo and continued to take the game to their thoroughly outplayed opponents.
Toby Mullarkey, so impressive in the holding role in the absence of Jake Moult, had a shot deflected narrowly wide, penalty appeals for handball were turned down and Mooney almost fastened on to an astute Smith pass that looked, for a split-second, like it would send him clear.
Time was ticking away, and when Tom Hannigan’s glancing header from Yusifu Ceesay’s near-post cross sailed inches wide of the other upright, it seemed Alty’s victory hopes might be counted out.
While there’s time for one more attack, there’s still hope. That would appear to be the Alty adage these days, and, sure enough, a minute into added time, the overlapping White was set up by Ceesay for a low cross that Hancock clipped past Loach.
There was no way back for Barnet, and neither should there have been after playing second fiddle for so long. Justice had been done.