Writen by Andrew Madaras
Photos by Liam Smith
It was good to see the friendship and camaraderie that exists between Blues Director of Football, Gary Levy and Barnet Head Coach, Dean Brennan.
11 years ago, Dean played for Dunstable, famously scoring the winner against Chesham in an FA Cup giant killing at Creasey Park having bagged a hat-trick against St Margaretsbury in the Extra Preliminary Round during two of his 40 appearances in a blue shirt. A former Hatter, Dean’s star has been steadily rising as he’s climbed the managerial ladder with stints in the hot seat at Hemel, Billericay, Wealdstone and now Barnet.
That total mutual respect between the two football men meant that irrespective of the score line, friendship and football would be the winners today.
Barnet were perfect hosts for this behind closed doors game whereby they fielded a full-strength team in the first half before changing all their players in the second half featuring a number of trialists.
The home side went into the break three goals up, however in the second half only a 70th minute penalty added to the score line.
Blues boss, Joe Deeney, will have been very satisfied by his team’s performance, energy levels, fitness and attention to detail. When a Conference team pays you the respect of putting out their first string you want to reciprocate and provide an opposition that will stand up to the task and not freeze in the headlights. Deeney’s charges did their boss proud, did themselves proud, and most of all did the Club proud.
Joe’s recruitment in the summer has by yesterday’s evidence been well researched and very astute business. Alfie Osborne, Harry Beaumont, Connor Coulson, all started, and all looked comfortable and at home in the team. Even more impressive given they’d only spent two hours on Thursday at training getting to know their new colleagues before yesterday’s kick off at 11am.
Joe’s last signing, Tom Bryant, came on as a second half substitute and also made a good impression on the watching Club officials.
With experienced players Liam McCrohan, Kyle Davison-Gordon, Benji Crilley, Kyle Faulkner, Ethan Creary, Ruari Mills and Charlie Jones all unavailable it gave Joe the opportunity to give everyone some minutes. Axel Piesold, so impressive in his debut away at Ardley on the last day of the season, featured, as did Isaac Olaleye and one or two players from the U18’s set-up. All looked composed and not out of their depth.
While Dunstable were limited to only a handful of shots on target they gave a very good account of themselves with Jammers organizing everything and rallying the troops.
If you’ve not been to The Hive, I highly recommend a visit. It’s a magnificent facility and we couldn’t have had a warmer and more respectful welcome. Before kick off I met “Village” who is the Club’s Overseas Supporters Officer as well as (un)official Flagman, with a collection of over 700 flags. A wonderful ambassador for his Club and with the type of knowledge about his Club’s history that we all marvel at.
Looking down the names of the Barnet first half team you realised the experience that their team had and will take with them into the National League this season.
Luton born Daniel Powell has over 350 EFL appearances under his belt at MK Dons, Crewe & Northampton, while former Blackpool and Bradford City winger, Harry Pritchard has 80 EFL appearances and former Norwich City man, Jamar Lomar, has international caps for Jamaica.
It was the home side who took the lead on the quarter hour mark with a well-executed goal finished by Moussa Diarra. Diarra is another player well known to our Director of Football thanks to his time at Hemel earlier in his career. Diarra is well experienced at Conference level having recently signed from Woking, with spells at Dover & Eastleigh.
The goal coming shortly after Dunstable had won their first corner of the game.
On 22 minutes Barnet hit the post and then two minutes later extended their lead through Nicke Kabamba.
A delightful cross field ball from Harry Beaumont found Dylan Baker out on the left. Dylan advanced with purpose, lined up the target and released a fearsome drive which was well taken by the Barnet keeper.
Back came the home side and on 35 minutes made it 3 – 0 with the goal of the game from Dan Powell with a smart finish.
Barnet then rested their starting X1 at half time.
The Blues were grateful for the intelligent positional play of J’Ardell Stirling who made a couple of timely interceptions and a towering header to clear the danger.
Dan Naylor found space on the hour following good preparatory work by teammates and although he got his shot away the Barnet keeper was able to smother the danger.
Dunstable were now seeing more of the ball and were playing some nice football. Benji Gray showed plenty of spirit and nearly found a way through but the Barnet defence held firm.
Barnet’s fourth came from the penalty spot on 70 minutes. Connor Coulson guessed right but the kick was struck with power and precision and nestled in the corner of the net evading his outstretched hands.
With five minutes to go before the final whistle, Connor produced the save of the day which still left a few minutes for Terrence Muchineripi to get a shot on target and Joe Sellers-West to cause some late anxiety in the home penalty box.
The mood in the Dunstable camp at the final whistle was positive and optimistic. The lads had followed the game plan and had acquitted themselves admirably and been great ambassadors for the Club.
A final word of thanks to our hosts for the marvellous way they looked after us and especially to Dean Brennan who went out of his way to make sure that George & Freddie Lewington got a stadium tour and photos with Dean in the dugout. George Lewington has written a short account separately.
The Blues have several training sessions ahead of them, before entertaining Hertford Town at Creasey Park on Saturday July 16th. The match has been arranged in order to remember and celebrate Aaron Bateman’s life. Admission is via a donation to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
The following Saturday we entertain a Lincoln City X1 at Creasey Park with a 3pm kick off.
On Tuesday 26th July we travel to Winslow Utd for our penultimate pre-season friendly before our final pre-season fixture which we will be announcing shortly.