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Hats Off
Hats Off

The Event

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 29/04/2017 (Last updated: 30/04/2017)

I DOWNLOADED my e-ticket for the event. Such things didn't happen fifty years ago. The event in question was Barnet v Grimsby Town. I guess that "I downloaded my e-ticket for the meaningless end of season fixture" doesn't quite have the same resonance.

Of course the first thing is that I'm pleased that Town are safe from the league 2 trap door, but I'm pleased that Barnet are too. It's a nice place to come, and there's been a spirit about Barnet who like us have had their ups and downs, and inevitably struggle on account of their proximity to London's Premiership teams. The pressure's off but I looked forward to an open game between two teams who are looking to identify strengths and weaknesses before the next season begins.

Undeflated by Barnet's ban on inflatables, as has been the tradition at this fixture, sorry event, Town's brilliant fans orchestrated the hiring of a mariachi band with the approval of the home club to brighten up proceedings. It wasn't Mexican weather but it was ok for April in North London. The event was now a festival. A few stepovers on the pitch, and job done.

Town's field actors today were: McKeown - Davies, Pearson, Collins, Andrew - Comley, Disley, Clements, Osborne - Jones, Vernon.

The first half was disappointing. Town played as if it was a pre-season practice match, made mistake after mistake and were off the pace. Three corners and speculative long-range shots from Jones came to nothing. Barnet played a neat passing game and looked no threat until the 21st minute when a long cross from the right escaped Pearson and Akinde languidly sent a looping header from inside of the box over McKeown. Barnet 1, Town 0. McKeown made a great save on 28 minutes after Taylor set up Akinola inside the box. Campbell-Ryce caused all sorts of problems on Barnet's left wing and after turning Davies inside out curled a cross onto the bar on 29 minutes. Barnet were in charge. Campbell-Ryce continued to cause havoc and set up Fonguck who was only prevented from scoring by a desperate Town defensive block. On 40 minutes an Osbourne mistake in midfield led to another neat Barnet move. Campbell-Ryce inevitably was involved and placed a path to the advancing Tutonda who blasted home to make it 2 - 0 to Barnet. Town were poor. The crowd was silenced. The mariachi band responded by playing "Always Look on the Bright Side".

Dyson and Boyce came on for Osborne and Pearson for the second half. Boyce's first contribution was to underhit a pass to McKeown who managed to get to the ball ahead of the advancing Akinde. This was after McKeown had to repel Akinde following a rare long ball from Barnet. Five minutes after the restart Clements tripped Campbell-Ryce on the edge of Town's box and was booked. The resultant low free-kick was cleared weakly and with Town's defence static, Weston pounced and fired home. Barnet 3, Town 0. It was a shambles. Disley set up Jones who fired wide on 57 minutes but apart from the odd link-up, nothing happened and in any case Barnet's defence was always ready when the ball did come into their box. The sombrero-wearing Town fans sang and bounced but there was nothing to celebrate on the pitch. Barnet were on top. Campbell-Ryce had a shot and won a corner for Barnet. At last some determined effort from Jones on 66 minutes led to Town's striker ploughing his way into the Barnet box but he couldn't keep control. Five minutes later Dyson and Davies linked up and won a corner for Town. Andrew's long corner evaded the defence and Disley was on hand to tap in at the far post from a foot. Barnet 3, Town 1. That was the end of it. The black and orange shirts of Barnet seemed to outnumber the red ones of Grimsby. Akinde bombed in twice for Barnet, on the second occasion muscling Collins out of the way. Taylor then made a great run for Barnet and after a short lay-off from Akinde, fired just wide. Bolarinwa, who had come on for the underwhelming Vernon, meanwhile used his pace to set up Jones, but this was a tired performance. Frustration and disappointment kicked in amongst the 1,201 Town supporters present in the crowd of 3,247. Town couldn't get anything going at all, and Barnet were content to play along with what had developed into hoofball. Barnet cleared Town's rare crosses with ease, and looked sharp and dangerous themselves. As time ran out, a Boyce header from Andrew's corner went wide but it was Barnet who applied the most meaningful pressure. In the end the final whistle was a relief from this abject performance from Town. So it ended: Barnet 3, Grimsby Town 1.

From a Town perspective, this was 23 quid's worth of dire rubbish. The second half was a slight improvement on the first, with Dyson and Bolarinwa adding to improved individual performances by Davies and Andrew in particular. But overall this was a very poor and uncoordinated effort. Barnet were hungrier and the better side in every respect. No doubt Mr Slade will assess Town's many technical weaknesses, and will note the disturbingly poor concentration levels and mentality, and the lacklustre work rate. All in all, it was an unfortunate event.

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