Man with Barnet fails to deliver at the seaside...
The big news from Underhill in recent times has been the appointment of Edgar Davids as Assistant Manager of Barnet football club. The man with the iconic protective eyewear and amazing dreadlocks was Captain onm Saturday and locals and visitors probably expected the ex Dutch international star and Ajax European Cup winner to lead by example. Since he has been in joint charge, after all, the Bees have won three of their four league games, drawing the other.
On Saturday's performance, this was difficult to believe. Barnet's best player by far was Graham Stack and without him, the Londoners could have been four-nil down with just ten minutes on the clock - as it was he only conceded two, for which he was completely blameless.
Many years ago when he played for Tottenham, legendary Northern Ireland International goalkeeper Pat Jennings was voted PFA Player Of The Year. Asked to explain why, he basically said: 'Playing behind a defence like ours, I didn't have a lot of choice!' Stack must have felt the same on Saturday; his defenders gave him little protection at any time, his midfield - with Clovis Kamdjo consistently the worst offender - kept giving the ball away and although the Bees' forwards sometimes looked both sharp and skilful, they not once seriously tested stand-in goalkeeper Andreas Arestidou until right at the death, when Jon Nurse continued his excellent record against the Shrimps from former Dagenham days with a well-taken consolation goal in injury time. But most disappointing of all, Davids had a really poor game today. Jim Bentley seemed to have instructed Morecambe Reserves' Manager Stewart Drummond to basically man-mark the Dutch legend today - and Drummond easily came out on top. Instead of getting on with the game and setting a good example to his beleaguered team-mates, Davids seemed to be more interested in bawling them out rather than encouraging them when they made mistakes. When he wasn't doing that, the Dutchman was bending the ear of the referee to a point which went well beyond what responsible captains should do - apart from the fact that he of all people should be experienced enough to know that it doesn't do any good, it made him look both petty in the extreme and it eventually stank of a very bad dose of sour grapes at a time when his team were being pretty badly beaten.
Barnet started off as they were to continue to play throughout the game. After just three minutes, Stack was forced to concede a corner after a shot from the excellent Lewis Allesandra and within a minute pulled off a truly outstanding save from the same player, somehow managing to leap high up to his left to push a wicked strike away from danger for another corner. When Barnet failed to clear this effectively, you had to feel sorry for the Bees' minder when a shot from Kevin Ellison was deflected by one of Stack's defenders past him into the net, leaving him helpless. Two minutes later, Barnet yet again struggled to clear their lines from another corner and shortly after that - with only nine minutes played - Andy Fleming scored again with an excellent shot from the inside left of the Bees' penalty area. At this point, Barnet were in total disarray and the Shrimps looked like they were about to run up a cricket score. Instead, they played the rest of the half as if it was a practice match and produced very few clear-cut chances. At the other end, however, Arestidou had virtually nothing to do as the Bees struggled even to penetrate the home team`s territory, let along mount any sort of threat when they occasionally managed to actually do so.
Barnet had the first chance of the second half though with a shot which went well over the Morecambe bar. The Shrimps' first foray forwards involved good work from the impressive Richard Brodie down the left flank - when his dangerous cross found its way back to him, Morecambe's number ten produced a fierce shot which was blocked for a corner from which Nick Fenton's attempt at a volley went horribly wrong. The game ebbed and flowed at this point but the next good chance was once again forged by Brodie as he bulldozed his way down the Morecambe left: his cross was cleared by the visitors' defence for another corner more by luck, seemingly, than judgement. He tried again with a shot from the right hand edge of Barnet's penalty area after 71 minutes and Graham Stack did well once more to deny him.
The goalkeeper had no chance next time the two players faced each other, however: this time it was from the penalty spot after eighty minutes following a foul on Allesandra. Just four minutes later, the referee was pointing to the spot again for what was apparently a handball which I, for one, certainly never spotted. The result was the same and yet again, Stack was completely blameless. That could not be said of his Captain who stood in the penalty area and whinged for literally ages for the second time in an obvious attempt to break Brodie's concentration. The referee should have booked Davids for doing this the first time - then it wouldn't happen a second. But today, Mr Davids got away with it. His team didn't, though - they were badly mauled and but for Stack in the Sticks, it could and would have been a lot worse.
Morecambe moved up to fifteenth in League Two as a result; the Bees remain in the relegation positions ahead of Aldershot only on goals scored. Most Morecambe supporters have a soft spot for Barnet if only for their fans' fantastic behaviour in Morecambe's first ever football league game: on this performance, however, there seems to be a real fear that the Bees could be on their way back to non-league soccer. Again. Let's hope not but they must improve markedly on Saturday's utterly dismal showing if they are going to perform the Eleventh Hour Harry Houdini act once again that they have been perfecting for the last few seasons...
Morecambe: 25 Andreas Arestidou; 2 Nick Fenton (C); 4 Jordan Mustoe; 15 Chris McCready; 16 Stewart Drummond; 8 Andrew Wright; 9 Lewis Allesandra (19 Joe McGee 82 mins); 17 Andy Fleming; 18 Gary McDonald (7 Izak Reid 86 mins); 10 Richard Brodie; 11 Kevin Ellison (Y) (14 Jordan Burrow 76 mins).
Substitutes not used: 40 Lee Jones; 22 Andy Parrish; 12 Dan Parkinson; 23 Chris Doyle.
Barnet: 29 Graham Stack; 2 Barry Fuller; 4 Clovis Kamdjo; 26 Elliot Johnson (25 Jamal Lowe 72 mins); 20 Curtis Stephens; 32 Krystian Pearce (Y); 8 Mark Byrne; 15 Andy Yiadom; 17 Anthony Edgar (10 Jon Nurse 46 mins); 38 Edgar Davids (C); 19 Jake Hyde.
Substitutes not used: 18 Sam Cowler; 5 Jon Fortune; 7 Oliver Lee; 20 Curtis Weston; 22 Iffy Allen.
Ref: Steven Rushton.