Connect in the back of the net

A few weeks ago, Barnet were sitting pretty having just taken apart Swindon Town at the County Ground.

A 4-1 victory over one of the pre-season promotion favourites which contained a first senior hat-trick from Shaq Coulthirst, Rossi Eames’ side were around the play off area looking like this season was going to be a promotion charge, the first since returning to the Football League in 2015.

But since that day in early September, the season has taken a turn for the worst and only one win has been picked up in 9 league and cup games since.

 

Why has it all gone wrong?

You can point to a horrendous injury list which has decimated the starting XI.

Key players have missed chunks of the season already, John Akinde missing the start of the season, returning and then re-injuring himself at Carlisle in mid-September, has been on the sidelines for 4 weeks so far, Jamie Stephens out since injuring himself in the warm up at Brighton, is just returning to action, Curtis Weston has been out since mid-August and more recently Coulthirst has missed the last 3 weeks.

There in itself is almost the spine of the team missing at one stage or another, take that part out of a majority of teams and most will struggle to gain points and compete week in, week out.

Some might argue Barnet have a large enough squad to cope with the injuries but if you drill down into the numbers at the Hive, there are a lot of young players in need of experience and at the same time you could say this is the time to put them in and learn as they go.

This needs to be balanced though as League Two can be a brutal place for a young player learning his trade, throw too many in the side and it might not be the right balance. True there is talent there, which if nurtured correctly could save the Bees money in the transfer market in the next few years.

Despite the alarming fall down the table, there is little call for Eames to go, no panic from the boardroom which when you see what has happened at Port Vale and Chesterfield, very little change so far from managerial sackings.

Eames is well respected throughout the club, training sessions and coaching players very much his forte, and it is expected that once those injured players return, things will improve.

 

Must improve in defending set pieces

The one area the Bees do need to see an improvement in is defending crosses and set pieces.

In Ricardo Santos, Charlie Clough and Michael Nelson, they have 3 towering centre halfs, but struggle so often to defend balls into the box, one clean sheet all year for keeper Craig Ross tells its own story and with the injuries seemingly staying away from the defenders, it’s one area you would expect to be strong.

Tough games against Mansfield and Accrington are on the way, the Bees have shown they can compete with the top sides, beating Swindon and taking a point from Coventry, and with a better goal difference than those around them a win from either of those games could move them as high as 16th or 17th and much needed breathing space.

 

Barnet need to improve fast

Thankfully as well for Barnet, there are sides below them just as out of form and a small cushion of points as a barrier, but that can all change in the space of a couple of weeks, how much time will Eames be afforded should results not improve?

 

Written by Trevor Knell

Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37

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