Barnet Football Club



Martin Allen: “The players have done me proud”

Martin Allen celebrated his 500th game in management with a win, as Barnet beat play-off chasing Portsmouth at The Hive.

Reflecting on the match, the Bees manager said:

“I thought it was very exciting.

“We were playing against one of the big spenders of the division – a club with massive tradition and history.

“They’ve got a fantastic following home and away.

“But our team of free transfers – our humble, down to earth group of lads – put in a proper team performance.

“They showed fantastic spirit, determination and courage.

“They did our club proud tonight, to beat a club like Portsmouth.

“I’ve looked back at the game against AFC Wimbledon, and I don’t actually think it was that poor in the cold light of day.

“We had 20 efforts at their goal, and three great opportunities when it was 1-0.

“But I want to win games like that, and I was disappointed not to get anything out of it.

“I do stand by what I said – I thought we were half a yard short.

“With the group of players that we’ve got, we can’t afford to be half a yard short in any game that we play – if you do, you’re going to get well beaten.

“With what we’ve got here, everybody has got to be at it, on it, and everybody has got to be full-on.

“Tonight they were full on.

“We got that goal, and defended well.

“We didn’t create many more chances, but Portsmouth are a good team; they’ve been near the top of the league for virtually the whole season.

“They had a great run in the FA Cup which has affected their league form, there’s no doubt about that.

“But I thought we played with control, discipline, and everyone stuck to their job within the team framework.

“For the supporters it’s great isn’t it – thinking about where we were last year.

“Tonight is also special for me personally; it’s my 500th game as a manager, which I still can’t believe!

“The players have done me proud this evening, which makes it a very special night.

“The changes we made to the team worked well.

“With young Sam Muggleton, people wrongly think that he’s just got a long throw.

“If you’d been down to see the last three reserve games, he’s been our best player.

“He’s trained and earned the chance to be in this team.

“In those reserve games Maty Stevens has been banging in goals and linking up play well.

“In training in the last few weeks he’s been absolutely spot on.

“I had no hesitation when it came to putting him in the team.

“At 1-0 up we expected to be under pressure, so that’s why I took Maty off.

“It wasn’t because he wasn’t doing well, I had to change things tactically to change the team.

“I had to put another midfield player in there to block it off, because they’re very strong and overload the centre of midfield.

“But everyone in the dressing room has just given Maty a standing ovation for his performance.

“Tom Champion was unlucky not to be playing recently after his performance at Stevenage.

“Mark Randall is short on match practice, but he’s a good player – so I’m delighted for him.

“He’s had to train really hard with me for a couple of weeks, so I don’t think he likes me very much!

“But he might do tonight because he’s seeing the benefit of the hard work.

“Our two centre backs have kept four clean sheets in five games.

“Some of those have been against very good opposition, and good attacking players.

“So N’Gala and Nelson have done a sterling job, protected by the midfield players.

“As we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks since I’ve been here, when we get a lead we’re very difficult to break down.

“The players work very hard on that in training; to restrict opportunities.

“Perhaps in spells Portsmouth got too many crosses in, in the final third.

“But when they did, our box was full of players who were all willing to put in a shift and help the team.

“That’s not through luck, that’s through hard work on the training pitch.”