The Bees kicked off their pre-season campaign with a commanding victory over Bristol Rovers in a behind closed doors training ground friendly at The Hive London. Goals in the first half from Mason Bloomfield and Jamie Turley set the Bees on their way, before a late third from a trialist wrapped up the victory.
First Half Team:
Trialist GK, Thomas, Richards-Everton, Turley, Doherty, Brundle, Payne, Trialist A, Marriott, Mason-Clark, Bloomfield.
The Bees kept the ball well in the early stages of the match and had their first goal-bound effort on ten minutes as Josh Doherty’s stinging effort was well blocked by a Rovers defender.
It was on 11 minutes in which the Bees took the lead, as Mason Bloomfield powered a header home from Doherty’s delivery from a short corner.
Rovers looked to respond and forced the trialist ‘keeper into a good stop from a powerful free-kick from the corner of the edge of the box.
The Bees almost doubled their lead on 23 minutes as another Doherty delivery caused problems, he found Ben Richards-Everton at the back post but his header went inches wide of the post.
With ten minutes before the break, the Bees made it two and it was another new signing on the scoresheet as Jamie Turley struck home at the back post after the Bees recycled after a corner was cleared away.
Harry Kewell’s men looked in good fettle in the first 45 minutes and kept the ball well throughout the half, making several openings with their attacks.
Meanwhile, at the back, Jordan Thomas put in an impressive first-half display, often causing a threat at the attacking end of the field, as well as being very positionally aware when defending.
Bristol Rovers missed a guilt-edged opportunity in the final moments of the half, as a free header went just wide of the post, but it would be the Bees who headed into the break in a commanding position.
HALF TIME: Bees 2-0 Bristol Rovers
Second Half Team:
Trialist GK (Askew 57’), Trialist B, Preston, Trialist C, Beard, Taylor, Trialist D, Flanagan, Trialist E, Vasiliou, Trialist F.
The ten changes at half time didn’t seem to halt the Bees momentum and it was almost three just after the restart as Antonis Vasiliou peeled off at the back post but couldn’t beat the ‘keeper with his header.
Rovers also started the half strong and continued to press the Bees backline throughout the opening stages, but Kewell’s men continued to stand firm and preserve the clean sheet.
There was a first outing in goal for new man Jake Askew as he got 30 minutes under his belt after replacing the trialist goalkeeper.
The lively Vasiliou went close yet again, as he met Trialist E’s cross with a flying volley that inadvertently struck a Barnet man on its route towards goal.
Much like the first half the Bees set their standards high and played from the back, looking to play with patience and cause problems in wide areas of the pitch.
Matt Preston made his return to the field and was dominant in the air throughout his 45 minutes on the pitch, making a crucial diving header clearance after a teasing ball was put into the penalty area by our League Two opponents.
As time ticked towards the end of the Bees first friendly they made yet another clear cut chance, as Vasiliou’s cross was met by Trialist F, but the header was saved by the Rovers goalkeeper.
The Bees set-pieces caused problems for Joey Barton’s men all afternoon and Matt Preston was next to go close as he headed inches wide of the post after another good Vasiliou delivery.
The League Two outfit looked to rescue the game in the closing stages but good defending from the Bees ensured no one could meet a dangerous ball from a free kick.
But Kewell’s men did well and truly put the game to bed, as Trialist F poked home after a good ball through saw him go on goal.
All in all, it was a good first run out for the Bees who ended their first week of pre-season with the taste of victory.