Martin Allen admits that he is relishing the prospect of a return to FA Cup action at the weekend, as Barnet take on League Two leaders Wycombe Wanderers in the first round at The Hive on Saturday at 15:00.
Discussing the game during the week, the Barnet manager revealed that he was looking forward to what ought to be a ‘great occasion,’ saying:
“Everybody is excited for the magic of the FA Cup, especially with it being a local derby as well. With Wycombe being top of their league it is going to be a real test for us. All of our supporters will be looking forward to this game, and buzzing with the excitement of the FA Cup wondering if we can get through to the second round.
“Both sets of supporters and both managers will be very happy that we are both top and what a fantastic occasion it will be for both clubs, both sets of players and both sets of supporters. After nearly getting relegated last year, for their manager to turn that club around from a team that everybody thought was going down to be top of the league; he has done an unbelievable job."
"I’m really looking forward to Saturday and hope that it is a great FA Cup occasion for both football clubs.”
Martin also admitted that he was still on a high from last weekend’s dramatic late win at Welling which took the Bees nine points clear at the top of the Vanarama Conference, as his team turn their attention to the cup:
“It was quite a surreal ending to the game at Welling with the brilliant goal from John Akinde to win it for us. But then the support afterwards, we all just loved it.
“The singing of that special song that they all sing – I still don’t know the words, but it sounds good – and then afterwards hearing it as they all walked along the road outside, it seemed like an army of Barnet supporters all singing the same song.
“The dim floodlights and mysterious, swirling, foggy mist; and all you could hear was the Barnet supporters singing at the top of their voice. For me as a manager, chilling out in the dugout twenty minutes after the game, it was quite a magical moment.”
Martin is now hoping that Saturday will prove to be another special moment in Barnet’s season, with a big crowd expected at The Hive to witness the clash between the top team in the Conference and the League Two leaders:
“We all know that the FA Cup is a great leveller, we’ve seen cup upsets year in year out as managers, supporters and players. Will we be the underdogs? I suppose we will be. When you are top of the league, it is always a big challenge for the other club and everybody steps up their game.
“And there’s no doubt for this game, we have got to step up our game even further. If we are going to get anything out of it, we have got to be right on the very top edge of our game. But that it what it is like for us every week. We can cope with it, we can deal with it, I can cope with it and they can deal with it and we will all work together to maintain our position at the top. It will be a nice break on Saturday just to go into this competition to try and beat our local rivals.
“I’m not sure what the biggest crowd that Barnet have had playing here, but on Saturday we are all hoping for a sell-out. I think the place is going to be absolutely rocking.
“No doubt Wycombe will bring all their fans over after winning their local derby last week against that team from down the M40. All of our supporters will be buzzing and no doubt on Saturday this place is going to sell out which will be amazing.”