Martin Allen was full of praise for his team after Barnet returned to the top of the Vanarama Conference with a 2-1 win away to promotion-chasing Eastleigh.
Speaking after the game, the manager hailed the players’ commitment as they ended the Spitfires’ four-match winning streak with what he described as ‘a proper Barnet performance’:
“It is a great result against one of those top teams. We needed absolutely everybody on top of their game and thankfully they were.
“I thought that it was a difficult game. They have got some good players and were very strong when their subs came on, but we should have had the game out of the way by that point. It could have been 4-0 with the chances we’d had down that end.
“People laid their bodies on the line and defended valiantly. I thought that the lads battled really, really well against what is probably the in-form team in the division at the moment.”
Despite a dominant performance Barnet were made to sweat for the win after a late Ben Strevens penalty set up a grandstand finish, with the manager jokingly claiming that the result was never in doubt before singling out his goalkeeper who produced a string of saves to keep the hosts at bay:
“I do not think the last 15 minutes were nervy or edgy. I think they only had two cleared off the line, I think our goalkeeper only made two unbelievable saves and I think we only threw ourselves in front of six shots that looked like they were going in. I do not think it was that scary!
“He has had a remarkable season, Graham Stack. He has been brilliant helping me with no staff. He has really taken on board another role, another job really. Today I would say, with all due respect to the rest of our players, he was outstanding.”
Martin was also quick to praise the Barnet supporters who travelled in force to cheer on the Bees, with a total of 436 making the trip to the South Coast backing the side throughout:
“It was very noisy before the game even started. They all started singing and I thought that something else must have been going on so I came out to check and there they all were singing their hearts out. It is nice to hear them singing, especially that special song.
“It is hard for the supporters right now. It is worrying and stressful. Being on the inside, for me it is alright, but for them – it is stressy.”
The win was enough to send the Bees back to the top of the table on goal difference with a game in hand against Halifax to play on Tuesday, but as ever Martin was refusing to pay any attention to what Barnet’s rivals do and instead is concentrating completely on his own group:
“There have been no celebrations, no joyous champagne thrown around the dressing room. We were not going to win the league today and we were not going to lose the league today. It is another game, three points and now we have to go up north on Tuesday.
“We haven’t got any big name players here. We are all a pretty humble group of lads. The Chairman has made money available but it would disrupt our spirit of what is in our dressing room. We aren’t Man City, we aren’t Chelsea and we can’t pay out what some of these other clubs are paying out but you can’t buy what we’ve got. It is something a bit different and something pretty special, and god bless them after a tricky couple of months that was back to a proper Barnet performance.
“I spoke to the players on Monday morning and told them that they are staying and that they are all going to do the job; told them that we are all in it together and reminded them how good they have been for months. These players got us to the top of the league and I think that all these players deserve the opportunity to carry on the job that we started back in July.”