This was a strange game in many ways, Preston dominated the possesion,
yet Barnet could have won much more comfortably had they taken more than
one of several good chances that came their way despite the complete
lack of influence that their midfield had on the game. A Preston fan
might argue that the away team unbeaten since the opening day of the
season were unlucky, but the brutall truth is that despite having
something like 70% of the possession Preston failed to create a single
clear cut chance. TO give Barnet their due they defended very well, Glen
Thomas (in for the suspended Pardew), David McDonald and Linvoy Primus
were all excellent, hardly putting a foot wrong all afternoon.
Barnet opened well an in the first real attack of the game should have
taken the lead when Richard Dunwell making his full league debut swung
over a superb cross that Lee Hodges headed just wide of the post with
Vaughan in no mans land. Within seconds Dunwell's strike partner Sean
Divine got the idea beating two men out wide on the right before hitting
another excellent cross which only just eluded the heads of Dunwell and
After so nearly going behind Preston then but a *** hold on
midfield with Barnet unable to get the ball out of their own half.
Preston knocked the ball around very sweetly and on several occasions
managed to catch Barnet full backs out of position, but the quality of
cross was poor and Thomas and Primus had Saville and Wilkinson under
It took Barnet the better part of half an hour to create another worth
while attack but when they did it produced probably the best move of the
game, Divine and McDonald enticing Scott forward where much to everyones
shock he slide a superb pass through the defence for Richard Dunwell to
latch onto and fire in a fierce shot from a tight angle which beat
Vaughan but just went beyond the far post. Seconds later Divine hit a
nice first time volley from just out side the box with was comfortably
saved by Vaughan.
Preston soon re-established control of the midfield with Davey and
Bryson both in good form. One thing about Preston that impressed me was
the mobility of the team - they pushed forward in numbers, but were
never caught short of men at the back - indeed on occasions they had 11
men beind the ball.
Barnet's problem was obvious - the midfield was being forced far too
deep and Divine and Dunwell were left to fight an uneven battle with the
Preston rear guard.
The second half mirrored the first, Preston dominating posssesion and
putting the Barnet defence under heavy pressure without ever really
looking like scoring. Barnet had to make do with occasional attacks on
the break, but even without much support from midfield the chances
continued to arrive. Lee Hodges began to get forward much more and the
chances began to arrive Hodges twice driving straight at Vaughan when he
should have done better. Another scare for Preston came when a long punt
out of defence by Primus caught out the defence. Divine's first touch
was superb killing a high bouncing ball, the second chipped Vaughan but
just cleared the bar.
I was beginning to think I was destined to watch my third successive
scoreless draw at Underhill when Barnet finally took a chance. The
scorer could not have been less expected Paul Wilson claiming his first
goal from open play since Barnet's fifth league game ever five seasons
ago at Priestfield. Having created a number of chances through good play
the goal had more than a touch of luck about it. A Barnet attack had
broken down but the clearaance ricochet into the path of Wilson who took
a few steps towards goal before striking a low shot past Vaughan, a well
taken rather than spectacular goal.
Having fallen a goal behind Preston mounted a spell of intense pressure
and Barnet were all hands to the pump for nearly fif*** minutes.
Although the action in the Barnet area was fast and furious Maik Taylor
was almost undisturbed in goal. Preston threw men forward and inevitably
Barnet began to find gaps. Divine looking very offside ran through and
Vaughan did well to block his shot - had Divine squared the ball Hodges
could hardly have missed. Hodges had one further chance but once more
his rising shot was straight into Vaughan's arms.
The game finished with Preston pressing hard and Barnet kicking the ball
anyware but the Bees managed to hang on for a welcome three points that
lifts them to within striking distance of the play off positions.
Barnet have now only lost once in 16 league games, indeed they have only
conceded three goals since the 4-0 defeat by Rochdale at Underhill and
at the back they are starting to look much more secure then earlier in
the season. Divine and Dunwell also look like they have the making of a
useful partnership up front, but the midfield looks woefully in
adequate, short on both flair and pace and which gives the ball away far
too often. New signing Simpson has improved the middle part of the team
significantly, but he is out for at least a month after cracking a bone
in his leg against Mansfield on Boxing day. Peter Scott returned for
this game put once again failed to live up to requirements - yet another
late tackle earning him his um***th yellow card of the season.
Preston impressed me in many ways - they looked like a good team having
an off day, although their defence looked very suspect at times. I think
that they have the strength required in their squad that they will be
there or there abouts at the end of the season. Indeed the only visiting
sides I thought that looked stronger were Gillingham, Rochdale and
Barnet : Phillips, Gale, Dyer, Thomas, Primus, McDonald, Hodges, Scott,
Dunwell (Mills), Cooper, Devine, Wilson.