Tues 13th Feb 1996
This was a desperately dissappointing match, probably for both
sets of supporters. Barnet played well, at least in the second
half, while Gillingham's supporters only consolation for a
desperately dull performance was that their team accepted an
absolute gift of a goal and hence got the points.
Barnet started the game with a very negative side, containing six
recognised defenders. I guess most teams come to Gillingham with a
packed defence, surely the fact that only one team has suceeded in
coming away with a clean sheet sugests that Gillingham are quite
capable of breaking down massed defenders. Nevertheless Ray
Clemence picked a Barnet team with a five man back four and usual
fullback Sean Gale in a holding role just in front of the defence.
Gillingham also turned out with a five man defence which suggested
that the game was never going to be a classic. Barnet settled well
early on, but their attempts to build up attacks always broke down
long before the ball got anywhere near the danger area. Even at
this early stage Sean Divine was ploughing a lonefurrow up front.
After 11 minutes Barnet commited suicide Taylor coming out of goal
to meet a long ball, Alan Pardew attempted to volley it clear and
suceeded only in deflecting the ball past Taylor into the path of
Steve Butler who had a simple task ot slot the ball into a
completely empty net from the corner of the penalty area.
After the goal the first half was appalling - Gillingham made
almost no effort to attack further, Barnet had plenty of possesion
but the passing around the Gillingham area was so inept that
Gillingham were only threatened once, when Divine struck a
swerving long range shot which went just high and wide.
The second half saw Barnet improve enormously, but Gillingham's
record of conceding only three goals in four*** home games
suggested that Barnet were up against it. Divine who was excellent
through out started the comeback attempt with fierce shot which
crashed against a post after a mazy dribble past three defenders.
Gillingham made occasional forrays into the Barnet half but Taylor
never had to make a difficult save. Gillingham's defence is
however, very tight, they are a typical third division defence
with big tall players, but unlike some of their rivals they have
pace and they are very well organised. Although Barnet put them
under a lot of pressure, they generally coped well although Sean
Divine gave them a lot of problems.
The game became very competitive resulting in a flurry of yellow
cards mostly to Barnet players although like the game at Underhill
in September there was very few bad fouls.
By the last fif*** minutes Barnet had total control of the game
with the massed ranks of their defence content to boot the ball
anywhere. A number of Barnet efforts went close, most notably
Divine who looked to have been pulled down in the area as he was
about to shoot and an injury time header which hit the bar from
I have very little doubt that Gillingham will win the third
division, they are a big strong side, they have a lot of pace up
front, Steve Butler is a consistent scorer, but most of all they
are a very, very well organised team particularly at the back.
Having said that I wouldn't want to watch them regularly. I don't
think I have ever seen a home team make so little effort to attack
once they had gone ahead. Barnet did enough to earn at least a
point, but a terrible defensive mistake, allied to an excellent
Gillingham defence meant that it was not to be.
I have to condemn Clemence for his negative attitude, the team
selected was clearly aimed at getting a point, but I really
believe if Barnet had, had width earlier on and had attacked in
numbers at the start as they did in the last twenty minutes Barnet
would probably have won three points.
Barnet : Taylor, McDonald (Campbell (Tomlinson)), Gale, Pardew,
Primus, Howarth, Hodges, Dyer, Simpson (Dunwell), Divine, Wilson
This is the story so far.....