Barnet struggle under the weight of entire league

Having found themselves on the receiving end of a 7-0 thumping at the hands of Crewe the previous week and bottom of the football league, Barnet’s game against Bury attracted only the loyal few.

The usual compact atmosphere inside Underhill stadium was eerily absent, as the sparsely populated ground nervously waited to see how their team would react.

During the build-up to the game and indeed throughout the first-half, Barnet fans could barely muster a sound as they watched their side nervously defend the stalemate handed to them from the kick-off.

In fact the majority of noise came from Bury’s band of 274 travelling supporters, who with an accompanying drummer made far more clatter than their numbers warranted.

Their enthusiasm and cheering was justified, as Bury took control of much of the first half and their stylish passing football probed Barnet’s nervy defence.

The muted Barnet fans were forced to watch a nervy display. Reminiscent of an underdog playing away from home, as the Bees worked tirelessly to keep the scoreline to a minimum and avoid a repeat of last weeks drubbing.

Having much of the possession Bury’s confidence grew as the half wore on and after a period of neat inter play, carved the first decent chance of the game when Andy Howarth drive from the edge of the are stung the palms of keeper Jake Cole.

Chances were few and far between for Barnet though. Striker Phil Walsh ploughed a lonely furrow as the solitary forward and due to his considerable height was rarely used as anything other than a target man, as Barnet looked to relieve the tension of defending.

After a dull and goalless first half the game was in danger of fading into insignificance in the afternoon sunlight.

Barnet re-started though with an urgency that had been absent in the first 45, which lifted the noise level of the crowd from a few individual shouts into a more uniform and hopeful body.

It was Bury though who took the lead, when Efe Sodje’s punt downfield exposed Barnet’s weakness at the back and set Ryan Lowe free on goal, whose cool finish from the edge of the area squeezed inside the far post.

As the game opened up and Barnet looked to avoid their first home league defeat of the campaign, both sides could have scored.

Bury’s Michael Jones looked destined to score when he dispossessed full-back Joe Devera on the edge of the area, but he dragged his shot wide and Barnet should have levelled it when Walsh’s nod down found Glen Southam in space, but his close range drive was parried and Mark Byrne somehow managed to scoop his header over the bar from a few yards out.

Barnet’s sustained pressure was eventually rewarded though when substitute Mark Marshall’s free kick found a way through the Bury wall and into the bottom corner.

Anxious encouragement came from the home support in the closing moments, as they recognised the importance of three home points, in a season that is already shaping up to be a battle for survival.

The stalemate was not broken though, but the result and attitude of the players pleased Bees manager Mark Stimson, “They responded in the right way. The players took on board what we’ve asked of them. It’s been a tough week.

“Full credit to the players. They are an honest bunch of lads to work with. They’ve all gone out there and done a shift.”

The result wasn’t enough though to lift Barnet off the foot of the league and Stimson’s pleasure at earning at a home draw only highlights the battle ahead for plucky Barnet, who already seem grateful for any points.

Tags: Barnet, Bury

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