No International Break For Bees Fans! – 7/9/14

Dante had it totally wrong I’m afraid.

The First Circle of Hell is not Limbo, as he claimed in his Divine Comedy.

In reality it is situated directly behind the South Stand goal at The Hive, the home of Barnet FC.

A larger than normal Non League Day crowd meant that it was impossible for me to move far enough away out of earshot to block out the non-stop cacophony of discordant noise generated by a mindless group of Care In The Community teenage mutants brandishing a large bass drum.

As we all know, drums at football are so Non League!!

Barnet were poor, listless, and seldom mounted a goal threat yet that bloody drum pounded away relentlessly and remorselessly for the entire ninety-five minutes of (in)action, often backed up by a series of high pitched squeaks as the group burst into synchronised song.

I came away from the ground with my head pounding after an afternoon of torture made worse by a totally undeserved last minute winner for the home team, a goal of utter brilliance totally out of keeping with the dross and mediocrity that had preceded it.

Barnet started the day at the top of The Conference and were expected to sweep aside the anticipated limp challenge of an Alfreton team languishing at the foot of the table, with no points yet to their name.

Maybe they were complacent, but, as so often is the case, the opposite happened, and Alfreton made all the running, played what little football there was, and took a fully deserved lead just after the break.

They were in total control until a mistimed challenge in the area after a breakaway led to the costly double jeopardy of a red card and penalty, tucked away cooly by Charlie MacDonald.

Despite being a man down Alfreton still created chances on the break and Barnet were reduced to lumping it long looking for the head of John Akinde.

They deserved nothing more than a point, but their huffing and puffing was rewarded when they won a free kick on the edge of the area deep into injury time, and Luisma curled an absolute beauty over the wall into the top corner.

So Barnet march on and Alfreton remain marooned at the bottom, but on the evidence of today I doubt if either team will remain for too much longer in their current league position.

I ventured to The Hive as, like so many others, I needed my football fix despite it being the International break, and Barnet had much to offer a Brentford fan, namely the prospect of seeing three ex-Bees in Martin Allen and the aforementioned Akinde and MacDonald.

In truth, Martin Allen was a muted figure and his tank top was rarely to be seen as he remained on the bench for most of the proceedings.

Perhaps he was as bored as I was.

John Akinde, though, remains a total enigma.

He looks like a footballer, he has power, pace and strength, he wins everything in the air, he holds off his opponents with ease and yet……and yet.

For all his energy, effort and natural gifts, there is so little end result.

He headed a wonderful chance over the bar when totally unopposed and his one menacing run was halted illegally for the game-changing penalty.

Akinde resembles a giant in the land of pygmies but he is more of a flat track bully who has yet to realise his ample potential.

A real shame when I recall how he tore Brentford apart and terrorised our back four with sheer pace, strength and directness when he played as a loanee for Wycombe back in 2009.

He looked an absolute certainty to reach the top, but for some reason it has yet to happen.

Maybe he still might, as he is only twenty-five, but time is running out for him.

Charlie MacDonald hardly looked his thirty-three years and his game remains unchanged.

He lurks on the shoulder of the last defender waiting to sniff out an opportunity and then pounce.

Nothing fell his way, but he was full of running and worked tirelessly for his team, closing opponents down without complaint.

His hard work was rewarded with his fifth goal of an already productive season, a penalty kick clinically despatched low into the bottom corner for the equalising goal.

Penalty kicks became quite an adventure for him at Griffin Park, but he never looked like missing this one, and it turned the game on its head, paving the way for Barnet’s eventual victory.

Seeing Charlie play was the highlight of the afternoon, a good pro just doing his job to the best of his ability, conscientiously and without complaint.

He is a total credit to the game and to himself.

Barnet tried to play everything through Lee Cook, who I am sure we all remember well from his days at QPR and Orient but for all his probing, prompting and clever tricks, little went right for him, but he is still a real danger at this level, as he always found space and time on the ball.

In fact my last memory of him and Brentford was his late and sickening long range equaliser at Griffin Park the season before last, when our ten men were doing their utmost to hold out against an Orient team aided and abetted by an appalling refereeing performance by Paul Tierney, who gave them everything that night.

I’ve been extremely positive in my comments about Charlie MacDonald, but even he turned to the dark side in that match, collapsing theatrically under a harmless challenge by Lee Hodson to earn his team a soft penalty, but justice was done when Simon Moore saved Mooney’s kick.

It was good to get some fresh air and bask in the September sunshine but yesterday proved that the real Bees are the only ones worth watching and I can’t wait for them to be back in action next Saturday.

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