On paper the side Chelsea put out at Underhill on Saturday afternoon did not
look that strong with only Hall and Fleck having more than a few games at
Premiership level. However, appearances can be deceiving and if Barnet thought
they were in for an easy game they were soon disillusioned.
Chelsea playing some neat passing football spent most of the opening fif***
minutes camped in the Barnet half. Chelsea's second string play exactly the way
Glenn Hoddle wants with the diamond in midfield, passing the ball around neatly
probing for an opening. Zeke Rowe well known to the Underhill supporters after
he spent three months on loan at Barnet during the 93/94 season caused Barnet a
lot of early problems and on several occasions Maik Taylor had to move sharply
to prevent him getting on the score sheet.
Despite their constant pressure Chelsea were unable to carve a clear cut
opening, the closest the came to scoring was when Linvoy Primus headed the ball
onto his own bar. Fortunately for him the ball struck the toip of the bar and
bounced to the relative safety of a corner.
After a rather stormy opening period Barnet used Primus to mark Rowe and from
the point where Linvoy robbed him when he looked like he might get clean
through after 25 minutes Rowe faded from the game. After that Chelsea never
seriously threatened to score. Robert Fleck added almost nothing to his
striking colleagues effort clearly demonstrating why Hoddle has him left in the
Barnet giving a trial to Oxford United full back Alex Dyer started to come back
into the game. Flowing play was difficult with the midfield densely populated
while the wings remained almost unused. On the one occasion Barnet did get wide
Freedman very nearly connected with a spectacular scissors kick from Robbins
Chelsea continued to dominate up until the break but there was little action of
any note. After the break Barnet stepped up the pace and began to win more
possession in midfield. After a poor first half Peter Scott began to pass the
ball accurately and the Barnet attacks increased in frequency. Robbins nearly
managed to get Freedman in with a clever flick.
As the half went on Alan Pardew began to exert a greater and greater influence
on the game with his intelligent passing and strong running. In particular he
encoraged both full backs to overlap and although the crossing was poor some
useful attacks began to emerge.
On the hour mark Barnet had a lucky escape. A long ball caught out the Barnet
defence and Maik Taylor had to rush out of his area and head the ball clear
from the onrushing Chelsea player. Unfortunately the ball dropped to Robert
Fleck on the half way line. Fleck struck a carefully measured chip and was
unlucky to see the ball strike the bar and rebound into Taylor's waiting arms.
Shortly after that lucky escape Barnet scored the only goal of the game. Hall
fed up of being tricked by Freedman hauled him down ten five yards outside the
box. Pardew struck a superb fierce shot round the end of the Chelsea wall and
into the top corner of the net, the first goal direct from a free kick that I
can remember Barnet scoring in nearly two seasons.
Barnet dominated the last twenty minutes of the game although there were few
chances, the best of them falling to Peter Scott who burst throught the middle
played a one two with Pardew and struck a low shot which the Chelsea keeper did
well to block.
Chelsea did mount a couple of last minute attacks but for once the Barnet
defence held firm for a narrow victory. Man of the match for me was Alan Pardew
who was excellent at directing the Barnet midfield and scored a spectacular
Barnet : Taylor, Gayle, Dyer, Pardew, Primus, Thomas, Scott, Freedman, Hodges,
Robbins (Smith), Wilson (McDonald)
"Time is a univseral constant" - Scully
"Not in this zip code" - Mulder from X-Files episode "Pilot"