Martin Allen says that is looking forward to what promises to a ‘great occasion’ this weekend as Barnet prepare to take on Gateshead at The Hive in their final game of the season knowing that a victory will see them promoted as Conference champions.
As it turned out, a win against Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday would have been enough to seal the deal – but having seen his side come from a goal down before creating a host of chances Martin was taking the positives out of a 1-1 draw that keeps the Bees at the summit with just one game to go:
“It was always going to be an edgy day and a tricky afternoon – there is no doubt about that. With the wind swirling in it made it tricky to get the ball down and actually play. But these games are never going to be easy for the players, just like it wasn’t for the supporters.
“It was a fantastic second half where we played very well. I don’t know how many times we hit the crossbar or how many chances we had to actually bury the game, but it is very exciting now as we go to the final game.”
“We played much better in the second half. It was too edgy and too nervy in the first half; we just kept kicking the ball. You have got to open it up and play with the players that we have got.
“You have to be brave to get it down and play and in the first half we did not do that – that is the most disappointing thing. We have got to play better than that next week – that is for sure.”
Having trailed at the break following a stuttering performance Barnet dominated the second period, and Martin was pleased with the response of his players as well as the influence of those he introduced from the bench as their efforts culminated in Luisma Villa scoring the equaliser minutes after coming on:
“We changed the formation at half-time and we played a different way and straight away it gave us some momentum playing with two up front and Curtis in behind. It was virtually three up front with Curtis bombing on and he is in such fine form in terms of goal-scoring.
“We played with three midfield players and that allowed us to get our full-backs higher up the pitch and into better areas. God bless the pair of them, I thought they were both outstanding today.
“You can’t just smash the ball forward and expect your full-backs to run forty yards in three seconds – they would be Olympic gold medallists if they could do that. You have got to make some passes to get your full-backs in the game and in the second half thankfully we did that and settled down a little bit.
“All three subs came on and did well. We are lucky I suppose that we have got those players. Numerous times through the season our subs have won us the game. There have been times where you have got to battle it out for sixty and seventy minutes and then when the gaps open up we have got players who can come on and change games.
“That is why I have already said that it is a squad – not a team – because everybody has got specific roles to play at different times in games.”
With the season now going to the final day Martin says that he is looking forward to an important week as he prepares his side for one final push in their quest to be crowned as Conference champions – something he says is no less than the players deserve:
“We are disappointed that we didn’t play better but now everybody is just looking forward to next Saturday.
“More than anything it is for the players – for how hard they have all worked and the dedication that they have shown to the football club.
“My job is to help them get to this Championship and now we have six days to prepare them and the seventh day is going to be very exciting. I am sure it will be a sell-out and no doubt it will be a great occasion.”