Barnet 1-1 Colchester: What we learned about the Bees

Tariq Fosu-Henry gave Colchester a sixth-minute lead as Barnet started poorly but the Bees recovered and Curtis Weston eventually grabbed the equaliser eight minutes from time at The Hive – but what did we learn about the Bees?

Barnet's players warm down after drawing 1-1 with Colchester at home

Barnet’s players warm down after drawing 1-1 with Colchester at home

Campbell-Ryce has still got it

Signing 33-year-old Jamal Campbell-Ryce was something of risk for the Bees. His contract at Sheffield United expired this summer and with a couple of clubs after him, it was Barnet who snapped him up. He did not come cheap.

The Jamaica international has more than 300 league appearances to his name and knows the Football League inside out. His dressing room presence alone is worth plenty.

But against Colchester, while Martin Allen wouldn’t single anyone out for praise, JCR made the difference.

Introduced after just 30 minutes for the blameless Alex Nicholls, he tormented makeshift left-back Ben Dickenson and should have had at least two assists to his name by the full-time whistle.

He injected pace into the game and beat men with a simple drop of the shoulder.

He may not have 90 minutes in his legs but a mere hour turned a lacklustre Barnet into one with real venom.

Barnet can pass – when they want to

There was a five-pass interchange in the first half, initiated by Campbell-Ryce that ripped Colchester’s defence open and reminded the Bees that on such a good surface, not to pass the ball seems foolish.

JCR-Vilhete-JCR-Weston-Akinde in the space of three or four seconds. Pass, and move, pass, and move. It was truly impressive.

The surface at the Hive, as Allen is often keen to point out, is excellent. But he continues to pick to massive centre-forwards which is conducive only to the long ball. But the boss has been heard shouting ‘pass it’ suggesting there is some suggestion that things will get more silky.

Nelson’s experience is invaluable

I spent a few seasons watching Michael Nelson at the heart of the Hibs defence. He was never the most talented footballer but was always exceptionally calm under pressure and strong in the air.

Yesterday he improvised and battled wonderfully, at one point even facing his own goal and turning out of trouble, leaving the harrying Tariq Fosu-Henry for dead.

And never underestimate his touch, whether it be a controlled header to the full-back or a cushioned thigh to Weston in midfield.

Allen is a box of tricks

You could easily spend 90 minutes just watching Martin Allen in the technical area. He is rarely still, jumping between the edge of the pitch, the front row, a seat in row seven and the substitutes’ bench.

He is also rarely silent, although his lack of instruction in the first 10 minutes was telling – the Barnet players didn’t need telling what was wrong because they weren’t executing basic skills.

But the manager’s years of nous almost paid off in the second half when Mauro Vilhete was tripped on the edge of the box. Allen whistled to Ryan Watson, free-kick expert, to dash back to the bench and get stripped ready for action.

Worried he might not get the Scot on in time, he screamed at Vilhete. No response and his team-mates couldn’t understand what their manager wanted. Eventually he pulled his ears out to indicate he was after the Portuguese’s attention, and then immediately told him to sit down.

The right-back (on this occasion…) hit the deck to keep play stopped, allowing Barnet sufficient time to get Watson onto the pitch.

The free-kick was deflected out for a corner, but it is was a piece of canny game management that any aspiring dark artist could learn from.

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