Martin Allen was in philosophical mood after Barnet’s heavy 5-1 defeat to Brentford on Tuesday night, and insisted that there were plenty of positives to take from a difficult test against a side that are about to embark upon a season in the Championship.
Speaking after the game, the Barnet manager said:
“I thought that tonight’s game was superb. I thought that the effort and the commitment of every player in our team was spot on. I got exactly what I wanted from the game which was full effort, commitment, passion and energy.
That’s all I asked from them. At half-time I said to go out and give it everything you’ve got, the same as what I said before the game and all our players did that. I wouldn’t say that I’m happy but I’m pleased that we’re moving in the right direction.”
The game saw many Bees players complete 90 minutes for the first time this pre-season with Barnet making just two substitutions during the entire game, and Allen insists that it was an important step in the players’ preparations for the new campaign:
“I thought that the players needed to get 90 minutes under their belt. There was perhaps room for improvement in the second half but that’s why they all played 90 minutes in the first place.
“I thought the fitness levels were fantastic. Particularly when Brentford started to keep the ball and you’ve got to do a lot of running and a lot of chasing and our boys have run themselves into the ground.
“During the second half we were just a little bit off the pace but they brought fresh players on playing against our players who were going into their second 45 so it was always going to be a bit of a telling period but I thought that the commitment, the effort and the energy of our players was fantastic.
“They bought their centre forward [Scott Hogan] for £750,000 the other day and the winger on the other side [Alex Pritchard] was tearing it up in League One last season so there’s only so much that you can ask of them, but their fitness levels were spot on and we are definitely heading in the right direction.”
Allen also explained his thinking behind only selecting a squad of sixteen which meant that certain players were used in slightly different positions, saying:
“I took a group myself training this afternoon, rather than sitting on the bench I thought that that would be more beneficial. Those boys all had a tough hour and a quarter with me.
“On the bench I like the look of young Alfie [Cain], and was thinking about giving him a go during the last ten minutes. Mauro [Vilhete] has also been playing well and was unlucky not to start tonight.
“I knew that [Jon] Nurse was going to go on and play for half an hour tonight. He’s been brilliant behind the scenes helping me with training and coaching but he needed to get on the pitch and remember that he’s a good player.
“They can all play in different positions; they are going to have to with the amount of players that we are going to have when the season finally comes around. Everyone has got to play in different positions and that is probably going to be a feature of our play throughout the season.”
Despite the emphatic scoreline, Barnet did create chances of their own having taken an early lead, and that is something that Allen admits is an encouraging sign as the season approaches:
“We had loads of chances. [John] Akinde has gone through a couple of times, he’s getting closer and closer to scoring. Curtis Weston was unlucky not to score on a couple of occasions.
We also had loads of crosses into the box and loads of corners but we didn’t manage to get anything out of them which is a little bit disappointing but we’re moving in the right direction.”
However, Allen did acknowledge that the game had given him certain things to work on ahead of the season kicking off on August 9th:
“We’ve got some bits of tweaking that we need to do. We can’t just let teams come through the middle of us like that, that’s a little bit too easy, but that’s why we’re having these games. We’ve got to get on the training pitch and work through these little bits and pieces and practice them now.
“We trained yesterday for two and a half hours which is obviously something that you’d never do for a league game so there’s a lot of things that you’ve got to take into consideration but overall I’m delighted.”