Barnet v Plymouth: What we learned about the Bees from the 1-0 win at the Hive


Barnet produced one of their most extraordinary performances of the season to complete a League Two double over leaders Plymouth, winning 1-0 at the Hive.

Barnet beat Plymouth in front of the setting sun at the Hive

Barnet beat Plymouth at the Hive on one of the coldest days of 2017 so far…

Mauro Vilhete grabbed the only goal of the game, a glancing header from Nana Kyei’s corner, but the second half was all about the defence.

Here are the main takeaways and talking points from the game and here are some Barnet player ratings for you as well.

Ricardo Santos, Simeon Akinola and Dan Sweeney: The new signings assessed

The majority of pre-match speculation surrounded the four new signings that Barnet had announced in the run-up to the opening of the transfer window.

It’s always prudent to do business early and avoid the pressures of the deadline – and the added premium that usually brings – so it’s impressive that the chairman and management team have quickly and efficiently done their deals. There may be more to come but to have four already is sharp work.

Ricardo Santos – A centre-back was an essential after Bondz N’Gala followed Martin Allen to Eastleigh. It was a big outlay to get Santos but he played a lot in League One and forms a partnership with Michael Nelson that oozes experience.

“He only had his first training session yesterday and he was told to head the ball,” Eames told me afterwards.

“From that point of view, he was excellent.”

And he’s right. Santos was committed and purposeful in the air. Particularly impressive was his confidence to move late and attack the ball, ensuring a solid header as opposed to being caught under it and dominated.

Eames was also quick to point out his confidence on the ball and that appeared too. When all around were losing theirs, he kept his head and carried the ball out with confidence and composure.

Simeon Akinola – Akinola’s goalscoring record for Braintree Town is not spectacular or even remotely eye-catching, having played predominantly as a winger. But he is a player Eames and Henry Newman have both known about for some time and were delighted to be given the chance to go and get him.

“He’s the perfect foil for John,” Eames said.

“We want him to have a good partnership with John and you saw that today.

“As a defending team, you’ve got to look after big John and now you’ve got to look after Simeon.

“For those two it’s going to be great.”

All that is required now is for Akinde to stay until the end of the season. We await further news.

Dan Sweeney – Some Maidstone United people I’ve spoken to certainly hold Sweeney in high regard and at 22 you can expect him to get better.

He replaced Akinola as Barnet looked to hold onto their lead in the second half so it was difficult to get anything except a first impression of him.

Plymouth fans at Barnet

Plymouth brought 1,119 fans (it got more full, I promise) to see Barnet at The Hive as attendance ticked past the 3,000 mark

However, he’s a big unit which is something Barnet do not currently have in midfield so that’s useful.

He looked slightly off the pace in terms of moving the ball but that is understandable – this was his Football League debut after more than 150 non-league appearances.

Nana Kyei may have leapfrogged Luke Gambin in the pecking order

It was a surprise to see Kyei preferred to Luke Gambin given how little he has really played this year.

But he is perhaps for the first time this season fully fit and was able to showcase the full array of his talents.

He started on the left and went down the outside as well as cut inside and to make use of his right foot.

The 18-year-old clipped the bar after finding space at the top of the box in the second half – although he maybe should have scored – and it was his corner that Vilhete headed in.

Gambin is probably more technically talented but lacks the physicality that Kyei offers, even if he can’t yet give it for 90 minutes.

I have always struggled to identify Gambin’s place in the team and it now appears that Kyei may be closing in on it if the manager is willing to give him the nod against the league leaders.

Rossi Eames is an asset – even if a new manager comes in

Rossi is not someone I knew very much when he was on the bench behind Martin Allen, other than being in charge of shouting when the boss was too ill to do so.

Rumours are circulating that Kenny Jackett was in the ground today but I saw no sign of him and no-one else I spoke to did either.

However, I don’t want to speculate on whether Barnet can afford him or not – one of the two parties would have to stretch to the other.

What is clear is that Rossi Eames is a talented coach and a fine motivator who has grown under the tutelage of Allen.

“I learned so much from Martin working with him for 18 months,” Eames said.

“Out of possession there’s no-one better to coach a team.

“The way he sets teams up you can’t break them down especially when you’re 1-0 up.”

But what Eames, the more modern coach, offers is a more positive outlook with the ball.

The centre-halves will still look to hit it long in the channel most of the time and that’s fine, but there was evidence today that the players are encouraged to play the ball and get themselves out of trouble while keeping possession. Men like Jack Taylor and Mauro Vilhete are integral to that with their quick feet and ability to understand space.

So even if Jackett – or anyone else – is appointed manager in the next weeks or months, Eames should be kept on as part of the staff. He is an important cog in the workings of the club.

Jamie Stephens kicking is a major concern

It’s important not to brush over any negatives in victory and Jamie Stephens’ distribution is once again a concern.

Allen rotated between the two goalkeepers because Josh Vickers is clearly better with his feet while Stephens’ shot-stopping ability is outstanding.

He was not required to make many saves today but his kicking almost threw away everything the team had worked for on several occasions.

It can be very deflating when you battle at the back for what feels like hours, finally get a goal kick and your keeper scuffs it straight to their striker.

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