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By Iain Dalziel of This is Bees
A phenomenal final half hour saw Barnet come back from 0-1 down to hammer Lancashire outfit Morecambe 5-1 at a sun-drenched Underhill.
Following the departure of Chris Plummer to Peterborough Barnet played with Yakubu and King in the middle with Hendon and Clist continuing to play at right and left full back respectively. Otherwise Barnet fielded pretty much their strongest available side, with both Gore and Maddix still out with injuries.
Morecambe came to Underhill on the back of an inconsistent and generally rather unimpressive first month of the season. However, despite a poor start they are still a good side and went into the game with every chance of taking something.
When the game got under way it was the Bees who made the better start. Liam Hatch was looking sharp up front and was giving the Morecambe defenders plenty to do in the early stages. Yet although looking dangerous Barnet or Morecambe for that matter, failed to create any real chances in the early stages.
Midway through the first half and the game started to become very physical. The first major incident was a late challenge on Graham by Morecambe defender Kieron Walmsley. This led to an angry exchange of words between the pair. After the arguing stooped the referee Mr. Yerby booked Walmsley for the challenge, but also booked Graham, presumably for his reaction or something he said. Shortly after Sinclair joined Graham in the book for a late tackle.
The game was becoming generally bad tempered now and this led to an early red card. Walmsley committed another reckless challenge and promptly received a second yellow and his marching orders. Barnet now had the upper hand, but soon after were dealt with a slight blow after Liam Hatch's head had to be bandaged after a clash with one of the Morecambe centre backs.
Amidst all the injuries and cards Barnet had begun to settle a bit more and were now the team in control. Dwane Lee called 'keeper Sollitt into action from two separate free kicks, although they were fairly harmless. However, from another free kick Barnet very nearly did score. Lee lofted the ball into the six yard box. There it found Grazioli with his back to goal. However the forward tried a sort of bicycle kick, but his effort which had beaten the goalkeeper was stopped on the line by imposing central defender James Bentley.
This was the closest either side went in a first half short of goal mouth action. Barnet did have a one man advantage over the visitors, although being a man down Morecambe were playing with a nine man defence and giving Barnet very little room. It looked as if Morecambe would happily settle for 0-0 and at the half way mark they were on there way to doing so.
The second half began very much like most of the first half had been played. Barnet were passing the ball round very well, but couldn't make the killer pass needed or were failing to reach their target from crosses.
Fourteen minutes after the restart Barnet were in firm control, but didn't look like scoring. However, Morecambe looked even less likely, yet it was the Shrimpers who took a shock lead.
A superb run down the right by Morecambe number eighteen Terry McFlynn ended with him knocking the bal over King's head before smashing an unstoppable low shot into Millard far bottom corner. The goal had come from nowhere, but was a truly wonderful solo goal and had put Morecambe in a great position.
However, although the goal put Morecambe ahead it also did a world of good for the Bees. All of a sudden there was urgency to the play and Barnet were showing why they top the Conference table.
Barnet recovered quicker than they probably expected and equalised only two minutes after McFlynn's goal. Many players had pushed up for the Bees and when Graham's low cross went across the area a whole list of players had the chance of firing home. Yet in the end it came from the most unlikely of sources, defender Simon King. After promising to score a 'wonder goal' last year he finally ended his long hunt and rifled the ball home from close range to draw the Bees level.
Fairclough's side were now looking very good and started pushing Morecambe further and further back. Once again it didn't take long for Barnet to score and this time go ahead.
The Bees had entered the Shrimpers penalty area on the right hand side when the ball had been threaded through to Grazioli. Unfortunately for Barnet he appeared to have been well challenged, but the ball had rolled forward and Strevens chased it down. With the 'keeper stranded Strevens shot at an awkward angle toward goal.
However the right midfielder hit the post, but then the whistle blew and the ref pointed to the spot for a penalty. This seemed a bit harsh and the Morecambe players protested severely. Still it did them no good and Barnet captain Ian Hendon stepped up to try and make it two successful penalties in two Saturdays. Keeping his cool Hendon was successful, hitting the ball softer than normal but deceiving the goalkeeper and placing it out of his reach.
Barnet were now buzzing with confidence and showed no signs of ending the attack on the Shrimpers goal. They were now getting the passes right and also taking their chances. This time it was an even smaller gap between goals as Grazioli made it three.
The Bees' top scorer was put through one on one with Sollitt. Composing himself he took a shot but it was saved by Sollitt. But cruelly for the Morecambe number one the ball went straight back to the feet of 'Graz' who calmly took the ball round him and knocked it home. This gave Barnet a two goal cushion and it looked as if that was it for Morecambe.
It looked like Barnet couldn't get any better, but they did and four minutes after his first Grazioli bagged his second of the afternoon and made it six goals in six for himself. Some excellent work just inside the box by Hatch saw him turn the defender marking him. He then ran for a few yards before swinging a low ball across the six yard box this flew past everyone, until it was met by Grazioli with a powerful low header at the back post.
Barnet were now in party mood with the fans ecstatic and the players answering to their calls of 'what's the score?' After the fourth Barnet calmed down a little, but were still playing totally in their opponents' half. A few players were taken off giving Lopez and youngsters Bailey and Roache brief appearances.
Nineteen year old striker Roache looked very promising after he replaced Hatch. The crowd were shown his explosive pace in full as he was challenged by many Morecambe defenders in various races for the ball. He was also looking dangerous towards goal, but wasn't allowed any clear chances, his best effort, a well struck shot from twenty five yards, was well blocked by a Shrimps player.
The scoring wasn't over though. In the ninety second minute a great ball was threaded through to summer signing Nicky Bailey. The youngster latched onto it and advanced on goal despite being under pressure from a defender. The ginger midfielder kept his cool and neatly clipped the ball under the diving Sollitt and beat the defenders on the line to make it 5-1.
Very shortly after the fifth the whistle sounded for the end of an extraordinary game. With fifty nine minutes gone it was 1-0 to Morecambe, yet a goal surge from the Bees gave them a very emphatic win, making it twelve goals in three home games. Encouragingly for the club the attendance was three hundred better than the Northwich game the previous week.
The win meant Barnet stayed top, with themselves and Aldershot, in second, slightly pulling away after many of the top seven or eight sides had a poor result. Overall this was an excellent day for Barnet, many of the fans had been worried Plummer's loss could lead to a poor defensive display, yet King and Yakubu were solid and it was only a special goal that beat them. Going forward Barnet looked confident throughout, but only in the final third of the game did they make Morecambe pay.
So the Bees are top of the table with an impressive sixteen points from a possible eighteen. However, Barnet know they have to remain fully focused and come down from the high of this great win and go and keep up their unbeaten run at Tamworth next weekend.
Iain Dalziel's Man of the Match
Ian Hendon, A great display throughout from the Barnet skipper. Put his penalty away nicely and was one of the biggest driving forces going forward the whole game.
Thirty-six photos of the game by Chris Holland.
Ref: M Yerby (Ashford)
Millard, Hendon, Yakubu, King, Clist, Strevens, Lee (Lopez 79), Sinclair (Bailey 84), Graham, Grazioli, Hatch (Roache 77)
Subs Not Used: Briquez, Dobson
Sollitt, Blackburn, Bentley, Swan, Howard (Carlton 79), Walmsley, McFlynn, Perkins, Twiss, Hunter, Curtis
Subs Not Used: Rogan, Dodgson, Mahoney.
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