Sunday, 27 February 2011

Barnet v Lincoln City, 26 February 2011

Venue: Underhill, Barnet
Final score: 4-2

Having won 4 and drawn 1 of their last five away matches, City felt confidence going into this match against bottom club Barnet, on the famous sloping pitch at Underhill.  City have a good record both home and away in recent years against Barnet, but overconfidence is a dangerous thing in football, as today’s result proved.  Despite propping up League 2, the Bees had a sting in their tail.

The Imps kicked off going up the slope, but it was the home side who immediately stamped their intentions on the game, knocking the ball about confidently.  With just 6 minutes on the clock they punished a slow Imps defence, a Marshall corner finding Kabba unmarked and the experienced striker made no mistakes with his header, giving the Bees a 1-0 lead.

City were shellshocked by Barnet’s bright start and could not get their own game going.  City had still barely had a shot when things got worse.  Parkes burst into the box and was upended by Fuseini, the referee not hesitating to give the penalty.  Kabba stepped up to confidently strike home, scoring his second goal of the game on just 14 minutes.

The second goal caused Barnet to take their foot off the gas slightly, and the game turned scrappier.  City managed to create half chances, but still looked a long way from the side that has performed so well of late.

In the 37th minute, the game seemed to have been put well beyond City, as Barnet won a freekick for a foul on Mcleod.  The freekick was dealt with by the City defence, but only as far as Hughes, who curled a shot past the despairing Carson to make it 3-0.  The scoreline was now one that Barnet fans could only have dreamed of, while City fans held their heads in disbelief.

It almost got much worse for the Imps as halftime loomed.  First, McLeod managed to stab wide from mere yards out, then Hughes headed against the post.  It is a sad reflection on City’s play to say that they were glad to get to halftime only three goals down.

Halftime teamtalks are funny things in football.  It must be tough for managers to know whether to cajole their failing players into action, or to scream, shout and throw things.  We’ll never know which approach Steve Tilson took, but he deserves credit for his choice as the Imps returned to the pitch a changed side.

Having stopped an early Barnet attack, Grimes put the ball into the path of Howell, who planted a first time shot past Barnet ‘keeper Cole just two minutes into the second half.  It was only 3-1, but it gave City a lifeline.

The confidence it gave the Imps was tangible, as just three minutes later Facey found Grimes, who turned to fire home to make the score 3-2.  The travelling fans were now in full voice, and a comeback, almost unthinkable at half time, now seemed within reach.

In the 57th minute, the opportunity to complete the comeback was handed to City when Watts was upended in the box following a corner.  Grimes stepped up to take the penalty, but was denied by Cole, the ball hacked behind for a corner.

The let off proved to be a wake-up call for Barnet, and despite City continuing to press, they managed to get the decisive goal on 68 minutes.  Marshall once again skinned Kelly, who had had a poor afternoon, and delivered a cross for McLeod who slammed the ball into the roof of the net from close range.

Despite City’s valiant fightback, the fourth goal killed the game as a contest – the missed penalty being the key moment.  Had that gone in, City may well have gone on to claim all three points, but as it was they returned to Lincolnshire empty handed.

Barnet deserved to get the points for their drive and creativity, and it may prove a vital and morale boosting win for them in their bid to escape the drop.  The Imps’ attempts to get to the 50 point safety mark have been stalled, but will hopefully be back on track at home to Oxford on Tuesday night.

1. Jake Cole
. John Dunleavy
. Joe Devera
. Anwar Uddin
. Jordan Parkes
. Mark Marshall
. Mark Hughes
. Rossi Jarvis
. Sam Deering
. Steve Kabba
. Izale Mcleod
12. Charlie Stimson for Mcleod (85)
. Kwame JJ Adjeman-Pamboe for Deering (90+1)
. Sam Cox
. Liam O'Brien
. Clovis Kamdjo
. Mauro Vilhete
. Tommy Fraser

24. Trevor Carson
. Julian Kelly
. Adam Watts
. Danny Hone
. Stephen Hunt
. Josh O'Keefe
. Luke Howell
. Ali Fuseini
. Gavin McCallum
. Delroy Facey
. Ashley Grimes
7. Mustapha Carayol for O'Keefe (75)
. Ben Hutchinson for Grimes (89)
. Scott Spencer for Facey (90)
. Paul Green
. Jamie Clapham
. Patrick Kanyuka
. Joe Anyon

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