In a corner of North London on Saturday afternoon, the spectre of relegation fell on The Hive.
Martin Allen’s ‘Mission Impossible’ proved just that but by the slightest of margins as the Bees once again dropped out of the Football League and into the National League.
True to his word, he took the season to the final day, very much out of the question on the day he arrived to manage Barnet for a fifth time.
Having played more games than everyone else around them, including a Chesterfield side who were only a point worse off and with two games in hand, Allen’s side went on a run which gave them a small chance on the final day of the season despite things being out of their control.
Having only won 7 times in their previous 38 games, Allen managed to get the same players to win 5, draw 1 and lose just 2 of his eight games in charge.
Needless to say, it was nothing short of a remarkable turnaround from someone whose love affair with the black and amber is destined never to end.
There were some inspiring moves along the way, Michael Nelson restored to the starting line-up having been side-lined by Graham Westley as part of his coaching team, Alex Nicholls finding a place more regularly in the team and contributing heavily to those gained 16 points and Dan Sweeney, frozen out like Nicholls by previous managers and restored by Westley, but more importantly given the captain’s armband by Allen and led the team by example with tenacious performances.
Who knows what would have happened had Allen not turned the job down in January, many of the opinion Barnet would have been a long way from relegation trouble given the way Allen galvanised and motivated the team along the 8 game run.
While Chesterfield failed to make any impression on those above them Allen began to reel in the teams above them, but Grimsby and Forest Green also found their form leaving Morecambe as the one team able to be caught on the final day, but that required either a 7-0 win for the Bees or Coventry to defeat the Shrimps.
Neither happened as it was, and despite a comfortable 3-0 win over Chesterfield, relegation was confirmed 5 minutes after the final whistle at The Hive.
Both the final day ‘escape’ and relegation are not new for Barnet fans and having only been back in the league for three seasons the club will now need to win the National League for a record fourth time to regain Football League status, but returning isn’t easy, ask Tranmere, Lincoln, Wrexham and Macclesfield fans to name but a few.
Whether Barnet can return will depend very much on if terms can be agreed for Allen to remain in charge, having already won the league before he knows exactly what it’ll need to win it again.
Despite his eight game contract coming to an end on Saturday, the retained list has been released with Allen and his team’s input suggesting talks have progressed well and an announcement should be made by the end of the week.
Written by Trevor Knell
Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37
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