By Jon Harries & Colin Butler
Here we go again then with Round 2 of the FA Cup after limping past National League Eastleigh with extra time and penalties needed to separate the two teams. Our opponents this time are Barnet also from the National League, but without sounding unkind not in such good shape in the table as the Spitfires were in Round 1.
At the time of writing the Bees are currently sitting in 18th spot just 2 points above the relegation zone boasting a record of PLAYED 8, WON 2, DRAWN 2, LOST 5, GF 8 & GA 19 with 8 POINTS. They have in fact not won in the four games since their FA Cup win.
In the last round they played Burton Albion at their home ground The Hive, Albion were on a 10 game winless streak and lost 1-0 courtesy of a superb goal from Wesley Fonguck (pictured above) despite Albion being 40 places above Barnet in the football pyramid and the Bees being down to 10 men after Matt Preston hauled down Niall Ennis who was through on goal.
In the last 20 years or so Barnet have been a bit of a yoyo club, flirting occasionally with life in the Football League, hanging around for a few years, then slipping back down to the National League, or the Conference as it was once called, and it’s now their third season in the National League after being relegated from League 2 in the 2017/18 season, losing out on goal difference to next placed Morecambe, promoted that season were Accrington as League Champions, Luton Town as Runners Up and third placed Wycombe Wanderers, for the record Coventry City won the playoffs.
We do have a football connection with Barnet in none other than “Mad Dog” Martin Allen who of course has manged both teams, bizarrely on 5 separate occasions for Barnet. There have also been a number of players that have played for both teams, most notably Jason Puncheon, Ademola Bankole, Paul Downing, Tom Flanagan, Kevin Gallen, Izale McLeod, Bondz N’Gala, Mark Randall, Jude Stirling, Ibra Sekejja, and Ed Upson, plus a few we may have missed. Three other notables worth a shout are Bradley Walsh the host of the TV quiz show The Chase, Ben Bowditch brother of “MK’s Goal Machine” Dean Bowditch, and ageing and troubled by alcoholism Jimmy Greaves, who at the ripe old age of 39 still managed 25 goals in his final season from midfield in the Southern League and was crowned their Player of the Year.
Whilst Barnet are in a lowly position, the Cup as we know is a great leveller and with a Dons defence apparently shot to pieces in confidence, we wouldn’t want to be chasing the game at any stage.
Barnet have plenty of Football League experience in the squad. Goalkeeper Scott Loach, defender Ben Nugent, and recently signed former Southend midfielder Anthony Wordsworth provide definite experience and make Barnet a dangerous side if allowed to grasp any opportunities.
The main man for me is striker JJ Hooper. He started his career at Newcastle United without making an appearance for the first team and was loaned out to several non-league clubs before Northampton signed him. With no goals he then moved to Port Vale in 2015 with better success playing 51 games and scoring 10 goals. His most productive spell though was when he moved to Grimsby and then was sent out on loan to Bromley scoring 14 goals in 22 appearances. He signed for Barnet in the summer and has scored four goals in five appearances, no doubt the 27 year old will want to push on and prove how good he is to attract anyone happening to look in from a League club.
Poole – Williams – Keogh – Lewington – Sorinola
Gladwin – Kasumu – Sorensen
Morris – Agard
Both Williams and Agard are both back in full training so Sunday could be an opportunity to get some much-needed minutes whilst also giving Fraser, Walker, and Jerome a rest or at the very least substitute options.
I’m going with a 3-1 Dons win.
Our squad on paper is too strong in my opinion. I expect Barnet to make it hard for us but ultimately Round 3 and possibly Championship/ Premier League opposition awaiting the winners, fingers crossed that’s us.
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