Barnet put their first point on the board with a 1-1 home draw in the last first home game of the season at Underhill against Bristol Rovers. The draw was courtesy of an early strike by Ricky Holmes and good goalkeeping throughout by Liam O’Brien in possibly his best performance for Barnet, a display that earned him the Man of the Match plaudit.
Head Coach Mark Robson made four changes in the starting line-up from the eleven that had started at Port Vale. In came Barry Fuller (for Freddie Warren), Jack Saville (for Clovis Kamdjo), Curtis Weston and Mark Byrne (replacing the pairing of Olly Lee and Ahmed Abdullah) to give the side a more experienced look about it.
Barnet took a lead in the 9th minute when Ricky Holmes advanced from inside his own half, defenders being left in his wake or just dropping back, until he got himself into a shooting positions and he steered his effort into the bottom corner.
Barnet had started the brighter and had deservedly taken the lead and then went in search of a second; a shot from Anthony Edgar forced Sam Walker in the Rovers goal to pull off a good save and effort by Mark Byrne that was deflected for a corner went close for the Bees. Rovers did get forward frequently but good reading of the danger particularly by Jon Fortune and Barry Fuller kept the Bees in the lead.
If Barnet were deserving of their first half lead it would be hard to deny that Bristol Rovers came very much into the game in the second.
There was a briskness about everything they did, and as for the Bees many of the good things we saw in the first-half were absent in the second 45 minutes. You could not fault the endeavour or the work put in, but the all round cohesion shown in the first period was missing.
It was not a surprise when Matt Harrold towered a header goalwards within ten minutes of the restart from a corner to level the scores.
You could not say that Liam O’Brien was the difference between the two teams but he was certainly having a fine match; his punches got good distance and he was equal to a number of long range efforts and if he couldn’t collect the ball he managed to push the ball to the sides.
Barnet’s best effort in the second half was a shot from distance by Byrne who cut in from the right and produced a curler which nearly found the top corner. Academy graduate striker George Sykes and Jake Hyde were introduced late on as substitutes in an attempt to bolster the attack and it was a Hyde whose header looked goal-bound until it was turned round the post for a corner.
In the final analysis a draw was probably a fair result, with the visitors slightly edging proceedings. There was a definite feeling that this was two points dropped rather than a point gained such is the importance Mark Robson clearly attaches to picking up points at home.
Five of the starting XI were making their competitive debut for the Bees at Underhill in this match so perhaps it isn’t a surprise that the team is not firing on all cylinders at present. The team did leave the pitch to good applause; mostly it has to be said for the performance of O’Brien.
The Bees are at home to York City this Saturday.