Barnet lost 3-1 to Doncaster Rovers as they failed to repeat their Plymouth heroics and grab another home win against the league leaders.
It was not the first-half performance anyone at the club wanted and the mood – both in the ground and on the message-boards later on – was a very somber one.
It was a heavy bit of turbulence for a team that had won six of their last eight and had begun to develop an air of indestructibility, buoyed by an influx of new talent.
There was some pretty heavy criticism of the side and that is understandable. In the first half Rovers cut them open at will and despite the Bees taking the lead, they were all but out of the game by half-time.
But make no mistake – Doncaster are a side whose talents will almost certainly see them rise to and remain in League One. They have raided the country’s top clubs for talented youngsters in the shape of Conor Grant and that lad Houghton (Everton and Chelsea respectively) to compliment the evergreen talents of James Coppinger which has made for one of the best midfield groups in the league.
The loan route is not one Barnet want to go down – rightly or wrongly – and they are sticking to their own. On this occasion, they weren’t good enough. But it was not for a lack of talent.
Their system – which identified a lack pace and confidence on the ball at the back – garnered them the opening goal and had they shown greater concentration and fortitude at the back it might have seen them get much more than a defeat. That and a more clinical approach in front of goal.
On an added note, Jamal Campbell-Ryce will always struggle to fulfil that high-energy pressing role given his advancing years – although his talent with the ball and ability to beat a man with ease makes him difficult to leave out. Team selection is one of the parts of the Barnet job for which I do not envy Rossi Eames at the moment.
Luke Gambin joins Luton to end his transfer saga
Luke Gambin has finally completed his move away from The Hive, heading to Luton after turning down Leyton Orient in the summer. A talented footballer and good-natured man, he leaves with little ill will.
He turned down a new deal at Barnet and I am led to understand it was a move that he was not the driving force behind. It doesn’t take much to work out what is going on there.
But I don’t see it as a great loss to Barnet particularly. He has technical ability but lacks physicality and I don’t think he has enough of the former to make up for the latter. Nevertheless, he deserves the best of luck at Kenilworth Road.
Rossi Eames and Henry Newman are the main men
Both Eames and Newman came out to talk to me after the game on Saturday, something they haven’t done before at The Hive. I don’t know whether it was a conscious decision given the result or just something they want to do more of, but it gave me a chance to assess them as a pair outside of the cut-and-thrust of the technical area.
The interim boss has his principles and for the most part he has the players to fulfil that. There are elements of the side that are still not his though and it is a work in progress. But he gives off an air of composure and a quiet confidence that I think the players feed off.
Henry is a far more animated and can scarcely stay in his seat during a game, although he tries. And in post-match too he seems more confident talking about the team and their strengths or weaknesses.
Both are clearly very passionate and thoughtful in equal measure. They make for an unlikely couple but an effective one that I look forward to getting to know more.
In Eames’ words, “we disagree and we argue but we both care about this football club” and it never crosses one mind talking to them that they don’t.
As for their future, I think it is bright. They are already making managerial decisions about the club – Simeon Akinola for example is a player both have had on their radar for some time – and are being given responsibility beyond any mere caretaker. If chairman Tony Kleanthous drops the interim from the job title, few could argue with him but nothing would really change. They are already in charge.
Barnet’s transfer strategy is clear and effective
Henry Newman said something very interesting after the game about bringing in non-league players “so we can make them better”. It is clear so far that coaching is at the centre of what they want to do with club, a natural tendency for two guys promoted from the coaching hierarchy of the club.
And if you look at the players they have signed, it is already what they are doing. Simeon Akinola, Dan Sweeney, Ricardo Santos and David Tutonda all have physical attributes that the squad didn’t have before.
And Eames and Newman believe they can add footballing knowledge and tactical nous to those talents and turn them into key players in a League Two side.