BRUMMIES RALLY AFTER BEES TAKE LEAD
Despite Defeat Barnet Display Attracts Plaudits
You need to look beyond the 5-1 scoreline for the story of this cup-tie which saw the Bees knocked out of the Capital Cup at the first time of asking by Championship side Birmingham City at St Andrew’s.
This was always going to be a tough fixture against an opposition with genuine Premier League aspirations and there was not to be a repeat of last season’s victory in this competition over then-Championship Portsmouth at Fratton Park.
Pleasingly, it was not a shock when the Bees took a lead in the 31st minute with an astute headed goal from Jon Nurse as the visitors were beginning to create a number of decent chances and even after the Blues had quickly drawn level, Ricky Holmes came desperately close to re-establishing a lead when his deft chip struck an upright.
Things did tail off in the second half as Birmingham upped their game, and they certainly did needed to show an improvement as they were playing second fiddle to an increasingly confident Barnet outfit.
In the opening stages the home side were dominant in terms of possession but the Barnet players were quick to get behind the ball and deny space and after this initial flurry started to get a foothold in the game. Barnet had won the right to play their own game, no mean achievement.
Anthony Edgar then had two chances in quick succession to give the Bees a lead as it was dawning on the visitors that they had the ability to take the game to their more illustrious opponents.
Even better was to come just after the half-hour mark when Jordan Brown, in a very advanced position on the left flank, delivered a peach of a centre that found Nurse at the far post whose headed effort was very well executed.
This delighted the 383 travelling Barnet supporters and jolted the home side into action and within seven minutes the Blues were level through a Marlon King penalty.
Holmes then hit a post with half-time looming and it was clearly the Barnet players who would have the more comfortable interval in their dressing room as Birmingham had a lot of room for improvement.
The home crowd was clearly shocked by what they had witnessed as Barnet were not playing the role assigned to them by the bookmakers.
Two quick goals in the second half by Birmingham in the 49th and the 54th minutes put paid to the tie as a genuine contest and the two late goals in time added on and the 5-1 scoreline was flattering the home side in the extreme.
Yes, the Blues had the edge and clearly deserved to go through to the next round but at 3-1, with just minutes to go, the scoreline more accurately reflected the balance of play.
The Bees did tire in the closing stages, but with this competitive game now under their belts, the focus moves swiftly to the opening game of the League campaign on Saturday at Port Vale.
It is strange that being on the end of a 5-1 defeat so many positives can come out of such a result, but those who witnessed the game might have just had their expectations raised a fraction given the cohesion that the seven debutants in the starting eleven displayed. The squad as a whole looked well-prepared for the season ahead and the inclusion of teenage Striker, George Sykes, on the Barnet bench indicates the potential quality of players coming through the club's Academy system - a running theme in the last few months and certainly something to look forward to in the future.
The passing game was in evidence and especially in the first half The Bees had success at the other aspects of the game; qualities which obviously will be a pre-requisite in League 2.