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By Iain Dalziel
Barnet made it eight games without a win, but did themselves proud in a 0-2 defeat at Hereford. Unfortunately the terracing in the away end at Edgar Street does not offer the best view of proceedings, so some facts may not be spot on, apologies.
Barnet gave Senegalese midfielder Guy Lopez his first appearance in months, the Barnet number eight had been suffering from an ongoing hamstring problem. The Bees football advisor Paul Fairclough played Lopez just off Grazioli, with Strevens on the left and Rooney re-called on the right. Williams failed to make the squad and Des Hamilton was once again absent.
The game started at a reasonable tempo, with most of the play in the midfield. Neither side wanted to concede an early goal, both content to play the passing game. The opening quarter of an hour saw very little goal mouth action from either side.
Barnets first chance came on fifteen minutes. Lopez went up for a header just inside the penalty area, after the ball had bounced kindly into his direction. However, challenging for the ball Lopez collided with the Bulls keeper, Matt Baker. Although it seemed like a fair fifty-fifty Baker went down and the referee stopped play. Surprisingly and some what harshly Lopez saw yellow and Baker won a free kick, much to the displeasure of the travelling supporters.
After this incident the Bees enjoyed a good spell. Barnet were looking increasingly dangerous, down the right in particular, with Rooney and Hendon overlapping each other very well. Barnet proceeded to win a number of corners and even a free kick in a very good position. However, they werent capitalising, Strevens free kick going straight into the Hereford wall.
After having a good quarter of an hour Hereford began to show the Bees why they are second in the table. Like the Bees they were looking good outside the area, but werent really causing many problems. However, on thirty six minutes Scott Willis gave Hereford the lead. After a collecting the ball just outside the box the Bulls number twenty two (and Cilla Blacks nephew!) skipped past Rooney before unleashing a powerful shot. The shot took a deflection of Hendons shin, which wrong footed Barnet keeper Gore and flew into the top corner.
The Bees responded well to going behind and went in pursuit of an equaliser. Like in the earlier stages Barnet won a few corners, Redmile looking Barnets biggest threat in the air. Just before the break Grazioli nearly forced Tretton to score an own goal. A dangerous low ball was played across the six yard box from Clist. However, Grazioli couldnt get to it. Yet putting Tretton under pressure forced the defender to stab the ball wide for a corner. However, this didnt amount to anything and the Bees went off one down at half time.
Like the first half neither side were creating any early chances at the start of the second period. The first real opening fell to Hereford striker Steve Guinan. The Bulls number nine was put through and looked destined to score. However, Gore continued his good recent form making an impressive save. The Bees number one made himself big and knocked it round the post.
After Herefords chance the Bees started to push forward. Barnets first effort off the second half came from Ben Strevens. The Bees longest serving player miss hit his effort from just outside the area. Slicing it high and wide into the crowd. However, on the hour the referee, Mr. Lewis gave Barnet a golden opportunity. In a scramble inside the Hereford penalty area Ben Strevens was hauled down. Much to protests of the Hereford players the ref stood by his decision.
After a lot of hassle Ian Hendon stepped up. The Bees skipper thumped the ball towards the bottom right hand corner. However, he was denied by a brilliant save from Matt Baker. Baker turned the ball away and Travis quickly cleared for a throw. As King went to gather the ball there was a bit of aggro, both sets of players pushing and shoving, even Bees keeper Shane Gore was involved. However, nothing serious happened, Willis the only player booked.
After the penalty miss Barnet still pushed forward, but found it hard to create anything. With the game still in the Bees grasp they had to throw everything at them. Yakabu replaced Rooney, but Barnet just couldnt create an opening.
In the seventy sixth minute Hereford controversially put the game beyond the Bees reach. The Bulls striker Steve Guinan went down very easily after what appeared to be just a slight nudge from Matt Redmile. However, like with the Bees penalty the Mr. Lewis stood by his decision. Like in the game at Underhill in August the Hereford captain Tony James stepped up and also like in that game he made no mistake. James penalty sending Gore the wrong way and putting Hereford 2-0 up.
Following Herefords second not much happened. On eighty minutes however Hereford were reduced to ten men. The scorer of the first goal Willis got his marching orders for a second bookable offence after a crunching tackle. Barnet almost grabbed a consolation when Grazioli chased down Lopezs slightly over hit through ball. However, under pressure from Tretton the Bees top scorer only managed to feebly poke the ball into the arms of Baker.
Immediately after this Guinan nearly gave Hereford a very undeserved third goal. Like in the early stages of the half the Bulls twenty three goal striker was put through. However this time Gore didnt have to make a save as his shot across goal went wide of the far post. Shortly after this the whistle blew and the Bulls had one 2-0.
In truth this was a very harsh score line, this had probably been Barnets best performance since Morecambe back in February and a draw was the least they deserved. Although the play-off dream isnt totally over its looking increasingly unlikely now. However all hope is not lost. With Chester beating Exeter the Bees are still in with a shout. The final three games are all, on paper, fairly straight forward. Barnet must show their real quality now, starting with Burton on Easter Monday.
Thirty photos of the game by Chris Holland.
Iain Dalziels Man of the Match
G.Lopez, 13, unsporting
S.Willis, 3, unsporting
Referee: Lewis, R
S.Gore, M.Redmile, S.King, C.Plummer, I.Hendon, M.Rooney (I.Yakabu 64), J.Gamble, S.Clist, G.Lopez (G.Pearson 76), B.Strevens (T.Taggart 76), G.Grazioli
Unused substitutes: D.Maddix, R.Millard
M.Baker, T.James, S.Travis, T.Smith, R.Green, J.Pitman, S.Willis, R.Purdie (R.Betts 89), A.Tretton, S.Guinan, D.Brown (D.Williams 63)
Unused substitutes: B.Cozic, D.Carey-Bertram, B.Scott
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