Non-League Notes: Barnet off to an awful, woeful start

It is often remarked that when you drop out of the Football League into non-league you must be ready for a fight to regain your league status.

Many have scoffed at this and sure enough have either struggled to prevent a second successive relegation or succumbed to a longer than expected stay in the National League.

Being amongst the pre-season favourites for the title probably does little to quell the enthusiasm and when you start a season the way Barnet have begun, that enthusiasm takes no time at all to quickly disappear.

Having appointed 3 times National League winner (in its various guises) John Still as manager in the summer to replace Martin Allen the Bees looked to have secured a man who could take the club straight back to the Football League at the first attempt, a feat only achieved by Carlisle and Bristol Rovers who on both occasions followed the Bees up as champions.

But 5 games into the season and already Barnet look up against it. Still had mentioned before competitive action started that neither a slow or fast start will define a season as his Luton side started off slowly and went on a magnificent unbeaten run to claim the title.

In contrast, both Barnet’s last two title wins came from fast starts and an ability to hold onto top spot once they made it to the summit.

Still’s team have yet to win a game and with three straight losses following two draws in the opening week of the season, the Bees find themselves just a point off the foot of the table.

There are plenty who will say the season is still early and there is a lot of football left to be played, but as has been seen in previous years once you get in a rut in this division it’s extremely hard to get out of it, just ask York City or Torquay Utd.

Both Leyton Orient and Hartlepool Utd struggled last season after Football League relegation finding out non-league can take you away from even the smallest creature comforts in the lower leagues.

What’s concerning though is Still has signed players who should be able to compete well enough at this level along with those who remained following last season’s relegation. But so far, plenty have failed to deliver a performance needed to get a win for this team and there is plenty of discontent off the pitch.

Attendance figures are dropping at an alarming rate, around less than 1000 home supporters were at The Hive yesterday and with performances and results not doing anything to tempt the stay-aways to return there are changes that have to be made to ensure this doesn’t turn into a wasted campaign.

Still can’t seem to settle on the eleven players he wants to play, constant changing and tinkering with players should have come during pre-season.

Too much reliance for goals seems to be placed on the shoulders of Dave Tarpey who spent almost all of last season out injured with a serious knee injury and has failed to feature in any of these first five matches.

With a trip to fellow relegated outfit Chesterfield coming this weekend followed up by Dagenham visiting The Hive on Bank Holiday Monday, you would think the Bees need to pick up four points minimum or we might just see the pressure increased on chairman Tony Kleanthous to sort out what it rapidly becoming more than just a sticky situation.


Written by Trevor Knell

Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37

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