The Bees are back in action this weekend as they travel to Aldershot Town in their opening game of the new Vanarama National League season.
John Still will take charge of his first competitive game since his return to the club with new signings and familiar faces also aiming to hit the ground running.
It promises to be a dramatic season for the Bees and it all starts tomorrow!
Left-back Elliott Johnson sat out the majority of last season after picking up a knee injury just under a year ago. However, after returning to the field during pre-season, the one-club man could be in contention for game time this weekend.
It was also heartbreak for striker Dave Tarpey last season as he damaged his ACL back in September during a victory over Cambridge United. Aswell as Johnson, the front-man made his return in pre-season and could be named in the squad tomorrow.
The Bees were flying high at the top of the Conference table last time they came face-to-face with Aldershot.
New Year’s Day 2015 saw Charlie MacDonald bag the only goal of the game on 19 minutes meaning Barnet widened the gap at the peak of the standings to nine points.
A double save from Shots ‘keeper Phil Smith denied efforts from John Akinde and Mauro Vilhete but MacDonald was on hand to scramble the ball across the line at the third attempt.
It could have been two before the break had Keanu Marsh-Brown not seen his close-range effort blocked on the line from an Aldershot defender.
Both sides had their chances to find the net in the second half but it was the Bees who held on firm and claimed all three points at The Hive.
Gary Waddock, who enters his third season as Aldershot manager since his return to the club in 2016, is no stranger to Barnet. The former Millwall and Luton Town midfielder was our First Team Coach in 2014-15 before leaving the Hive to return to The Shots.
The former Republic of Ireland international embarked on his managerial tenure back in 2006, taking charge at QPR, a club where he made over 200 appearances for as a player.
Waddock then made his first move to Aldershot a year later and very much made himself an instant hit. It was an impressive debut season to say the least for the 56-year-old after guiding his side to the Blue Square Premier title, setting a then-record total of 101 points and lifting the club back to the Football League. On top of that, Aldershot beat Rushden & Diamonds to win the Setanta Shield and also claimed a semi-final finish in the FA Trophy all in the same campaign. He was also named Conference manager of the season.
His time at Aldershot came to an end in October 2009 where he became manager of Wycombe Wanderers, leading the side to promotion back to League One in 2011. However, relegation followed the next season before Waddock’s spell at Adam’s Park concluded in September 2012.
After spending a year at MK Dons, he was appointed Head Coach at Oxford United before taking up the Assistant Manager’s job at Portsmouth which later saw him take charge in a caretaker capacity before returning to the Shots.
In his first season back at Aldershot, Waddock guided them to a play-off finish, but suffered semi-final heartbreak at the hands of Tranmere. It was de ja vu for him and his side last season, missing out on play-off glory yet again after a penalty shoot-out defeat to Ebbsfleet in the Qualifying round.
One to Watch – Shamir Fenelon:
One man the Bees will be on high alert for is forward Shamir Fenelon. The former Republic of Ireland U21 international arrived at Aldershot from Crawley Town in 2016 and has found the net 18 times in over 70 league appearances for the club.
The 23-year-old found goals hard to come by during the beginning stages of his senior career but is very much finding his feet at the Shots.
Fenelon is very flexible in regards to his positioning on the field which will make him very unpredictable this weekend. He can play as a striker or winger and can even occupy an attacking midfield role if needed.
It’s uncertain how he will be used on Saturday but what is for definite is that he will be out to cause the Barnet back-line all sorts of problems and pose a real attacking threat.
Aldershot, who go into Saturday’s game having lost just four of their opening day fixtures, welcome the Bees off the back of another play-off campaign. However, it wasn’t the best of ends to the season for Waddock’s side. The Shots only accumulated five wins in their final 15 games before losing out on a play-off semi-final spot after a penalty shoot-out defeat to Ebbsfleet in the qualifying round.
However, a new season is on the horizon and after an up and down pre-season run, on top of new signings and outgoings, the Shots will be ready to start the new campaign with promotion firmly in their sight.
Waddock won’t be the only name from the Aldershot camp facing his former club on Saturday. Shots goalkeeper Jake Cole joined the Bees in 2009 on loan from Queens Park Rangers before signing permanently ahead of the 2009-10 campaign. He made over 90 appearances for the Bees before leaving North London for Plymouth Argyle in 2011.
As for Barnet, new signing Callum Reynolds captained Aldershot during his two-year spell at the club. Signing from Boreham Wood, the defender made 90 appearances for the Hampshire side before arriving at the Hive this summer.
Andre Boucaud featured 13 times for the Shots after signing on loan from Peterborough United in 2005. His brief spell in Hampshire only lasted three months before he was recalled by his parent club.