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We Are Staying Up...?
Goodness me! By: Eric Hitchmo 11/04/2011
Crewe Alexandra H
09/04/2011   (Click date for match details)
League 2010-2011
W  2- 1
LEACH '12
MCLEOD '26
Attendance: 2212  (274 Away)
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Who would have dared believe a few weeks ago that we could get ourselves even close to the position we find ourselves in now? Precarious though it may still be, the tide of optimism and positive feeling that is sweeping through this club right now leads me to believe that this escape is very much on. How does one man change a club so? He did it in 2003, building an entire squad from scratch, and now it looks like he's at it again.

In a matter of weeks, Barnet's fanbase appears to have performed a near-complete u-turn on the matter. While a lot of ill-feeling was still lingering for Allen, that feeling has paled into insignificance in light of what he is doing here. Like I said last week, he promised us fun, and that is what we are getting. Well and truly.

An underperfoming, demoralised squad has been transformed into a solid unit who look like they will give their all for eachother and the club. On Saturday I saw a side, who had only last week smashed in eight goals, be unable to create a single clear chance on our goal. They only scored through a dubious penalty in the dying embers of the first half. I saw us fighting, battling and dominating the game. We created chances, and we took them. How has this happened?

It was a glorious day at Underhill. The sun was shining on a buoyant and passionate stadium. I can barely recall a noise from the Main Stand quite like it. The East Terrace was packed and noisy. Even the North Terrace was busier than usual as passers-by appeared to find the perfect spot to get an early summer tan. Crewe's supporters came and stood quietly to watch their side lose their tenth away game in a row, amidst a swathe of Barnet jubilation. It was magic stuff.

From the off, Barnet were in the ascendancy. A cheeky little flick from  the outstanding Sam Deering on the edge of the box saw the ball fall to Tommy Fraser, who hooked the ball delightfully onto the head of Daniel Leach who powered his header home from close range to notch his first goal for the club. The Australian has missed most of the season with injury, but slotted back into the lineup seamlessly and was superb in the middle alongside Joe Devera who has recaptured the form that we knew he had. Deering was again involved in the second goal on 26 minutes. He placed a delicious pass through the visitors' backline with perfect weight and execution. Izale Mcleod was the recipient and he does not miss from there, poking the ball past the advancing 'keeper for 2-0. Everyone is buzzing.

Crewe offered little going forward and somehow got themselves back into the game in injury time when Matty Parsons was adjudged to have handled in the area. The decision little harsh you might say, coming from a referee who had an appalling afternoon in the middle for both sides. Clayton Donaldson made no mistake with the only sniff of goal he was allowed all day.

Could we show a new side to ourselves in the second hallf? Earlier this season you'd have been forgiven for fearing the worst in this situation. The entire half was engrossing stuff. Not too high on quality but the nerves and tension around the place was palpable. It was horrible. However, I'd much sooner feel like that than I have for the entire season, sitting back not really caring what was going on. Everyone was fired up and chanting, the Main Stand responding to Mad Dog's calls for noise with boisterous shouts of 'Come On Barnet'. The East Terrace appeared to be very cagey in the second period having been bouncing in the first. It was so crucial that we held on.

After 45 very long minutes of staunch defending, where Crewe were allowed very little, if anything, the game was to take another twist. Sam Walker had already been booked for timewasting when out of frustration he threw the ball away having just failed to keep the ball from going for a corner. The referee signalled for a corner and that looked to be all, until he was surrounded by the visiting players and seemingly reminded that he was a jobsworth who did everything by the book and wasn't going to let the game flow any time soon. Walker received his marching orders, visibly despondent at what had just happened. Liam O'Brien was his replacement, coming on for the brave Charlie Taylor who had only been on for five minutes, but took the decision like a man, like a professional, like someone who understood that it had to be done for the team. The corner was scuffed into the side-netting, with a massive cheer to accompany it.

O'Brien did still have to make a telling contribution however. A soft free-kick was awarded in a dangerous position. It was floated in and missed by everyone, bouncing up, looking for all eternity as if it was goalbound until the outstretched claw of the sub 'keeper tipped it over the crossbar. Fantastic save. We dealt with the corner and the final whistle was soon blown. Ecstasy around the ground, a feeling so sorely missed by all.

The players stood and applauded every Barnet supporter. Walker was grabbed from the dressing room and pushed into the centre circle to be shown the appreciation he deserved for his solid performance. The fan-player unity, a key ingredient in any successful side, was plain for all to see as everyone stayed behind the applaud. It was fantastic stuff.

Now then, two different tests altogether approach. Two very tough away games in Bury and Gillingham, both chasing promotion. But who's to say that we can't go there and turn them over. This wave of confidence appears to know no bounds and we have sides above us in no form, no confidence who are looking over their shoulders at us in peril. We'll have half an eye on Burton on Tuesday that's for sure, but surely three wins from our last five will get us very close to safety. The way things are now, these wins are very attainable.

Hold tight, this is going to be one hell of a ride.




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