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Halifax 2-3 Barnet
Howell (25)
Monington (35)
  Haslam (og 50)
Hatch (68)
Grazioli (69)
HT 2-0   Attendance 1382

Nationwide Conference
  21 August 2004

By Iain Dalziel of This is Bees

The Bees maintained their unbeaten start to the season, but did it the hard way after coming from 2-0 down at half time to win 3-2 and take maximum points from Halifax Town’s Shay Stadium.

Once again Paul Fairclough played transfer listed Simon Clist as a makeshift left back, as the Bees early season defensive injury crisis showed no signs of improvement, both Maddix and Yakubu were again unavailable.

Barnet began quite brightly, but created little trouble for Halifax’s ex-Shrewsbury goalkeeper Dunbavin. An early header met by Plummer from a cross by Graham was the closest Barnet came early on. The Bees centre back heading a few yards wide of the Shaymen’s goal.

After a slow start, where Plummer’s header had been the best chance either side had created, Halifax began to take the game to Barnet. The Bees were clearly not expecting this, as the defensive errors showed. Fairclough’s side looked very shaky at the back and Halifax started to take control. Though Gore’s goal was not properly troubled the defence looked shaky and Halifax started pressing for the game’s opening goal.

Eventually the inevitable happened. Halifax number nineteen Dean Howell scored an impressive individual goal, exploiting Barnet’s poor defending. After picking up the ball some way out Howell simply ran at the defence. After skipping past Simon King he got through one on one with Barnet ‘keeper Shane Gore. Keeping his cool he rounded Gore and slotted the ball into the gaping empty net.

Instead of this giving Barnet the incentive to get forward and draw level they continued to play defensively. Halifax’s confidence was growing and with Barnet not giving their defence any problems they pushed on for a second.

Once again after a spell of pressure the Shaymen made the Bees pay. Some dreadful marking allowed Ryan Sugden to score a very sloppy goal and double the home side’s advantage. A free kick was swung in from the right hand side and was simply left by the Barnet defenders. This allowed Sugden to get a foot to the ball and put it past Gore, making it Halifax 2 Barnet 0.

The score stayed the same until half time. Though the Bees were still in with a chance they needed to improve greatly on a dreadful first half display.

Second Half

When the players re-emerged the all in red Barnet team looked fired up to say the least. The players took up their positions following a quick huddle, something rarely done before the second half starts. After being applauded into his penalty area by the Bees fans Gore encouraged the travelling support of roughly two hundred to make some noise.

Five minutes into the second half and the noise in the large away end began to get louder. A good start to the second half from Graham in particular led to Barnet getting a goal back early on. After a good run down the left Graham, or ‘Trickie Dickie’ as the Bees fans have nicknamed him, swung the ball into the six yard box. Like early in the game Plummer got a header in, and this time on target. However defender Steve Haslam was on hand to block Plummer’s effort, but unfortunately for him ended up putting the ball into his own net.

From the away end it wasn’t very clear what happened, but it appeared that Haslam tried to get it away, but it came off him and went in.

The goal clearly gave the players confidence, and the noise behind Gore’s goal become very loud. On the hour mark Liam Hatch had a great chance to get the Bees back on level terms. The lanky forward had a free shot all of twelve yards out, but managed to not even hit the target, dragging his shot just wide of Dunbavin’s goal.

By now Barnet were dominating and it seemed an equalising goal would soon come. Sixty eight minutes in it finally did. Hatch was once again put in a great position and this time instead of hitting it wide he buried the ball in the bottom corner of Town’s goal. This led to euphoric celebrations in the away end as the army of Bees fans made their way down the steep terrace.

However, Hatch’s equalising celebrations were soon overshadowed. Almost immediately from the restart Barnet won the ball and played it wide to Strevens. Looking up he saw Grazioli, who had been relatively quite throughout, ahead of him. Strevens then knocked the ball over the top to last season’s top scorer. Under pressure from the defender tightly marking him Grazioli ran onto the ball and briefly looked up to see where Dunbavin was.

Then out of nowhere he unleashed a fierce lob thirty yards out on the half volley. With Dunbavin slightly out of position he couldn’t recover and could only back pedal hopelessly as the ball soared over him and hit the top corner of the net. A truly superb goal. The away end exploded the gangway at the front full of ecstatic Barnet fans, who could barely believe the incredible minute of football they had just witnessed. From being 2-1 down two minutes earlier barnet now led 3-2.

As expected after this the final twenty minutes would be tough. However, unlike last season when the Bees had to cling to a 2-1 lead under a Halifax siege, Town threatened to do little. Barnet were still generally on top and although they have thrown away many a late lead it was very difficult to see how the Shaymen were going to get level. Bar one chance which was well stopped late on by Gore, Barnet held on very well.

After four minutes of tense stoppage time the referee ended a thrilling game. Barnet ‘keeper Gore was so delighted he almost joined the crowd at the end. The players got a great reception at the end, and duly thanked the fans for pumping up the volume throughout the second forty five minutes.

This was certainly not Barnet’s best display, but nevertheless they showed great character to take the points. Even though they were poor at the back in the first half bar the two goals Chris Plummer was solid as a rock, letting very little get past him. However, the most inspirational Barnet player was Richard Graham, who continued his excellent start to his Barnet career. It may not have been excellent from Barnet but the result was totally unbelievable and Grazioli’s goal was a fitting way to complete the great comeback.

Iain Dalziel’s Man of the Match

Richie ‘Trickie Dickie’ Graham. When the team really needed to get going he was the one who began to push things forward. He was also unlucky not to score on a rare first half attack when his shot hit the side netting.

Quotes from the manager

"It was all about mental strength. I can't give the players enough credit. This was an historical victory for this club and I'm not being over the top. I know I've got quality players but they really believed in themselves today."

Bookings

Barnet

87 Graham (unsporting behaviour)

Halifax

73 Haslam (unsporting behaviour)

Ref: R Hewitt (Scarbrough)

Teams

Barnet

Gore, Clist, King, Plummer, Hendon, Graham, Lee, Sinclair (Bailey 90), Strevens (Lopez 90), Hatch, Grazioli

Unused subs: Millard, Dobson , Roache

Halifax

Dunbavin, Doughty, Monington, Munroe, Ingram, Foster, Howell, Haslam, Willis (Hockenhull 54), Midgley (Toulson 73), Sugden (Killeen 73)

Unused subs: Mallon, Quinn

Other Reports

Barnet Cartoons
Barnet Times
BBC

If you know of any reports please email me the link on info@bfcsa.net

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