Manager praises both players and supporters as Barnet extend their lead at the top.Barnet manager Martin Allen was delighted with the resilience that his side showed at the weekend as the Bees ran out 2-0 winners over Gateshead to end the hosts’ nine-game unbeaten run and stretch their lead at the top of the Vanarama Conference table to five points.
Speaking after the game at the Gateshead International Stadium on Saturday, Martin praised his side for their response to last weekend’s disappointment against Kidderminster with an impressive performance in a new 4-2-3-1 shape:
“We took it all in our stride last weekend. There were obviously elements of disappointment amongst the staff, the players and of course the supporters, but you can’t dwell on it. You have got to deal with it, learn from it and get on with it.
“You know when you come into the season that there are going to be ups and downs, and I think that all Barnet supporters will know that I have always had the attitude that you don’t pop the pills when you lose and you don’t pop the champagne when you win. That has been there from day one.”
“We had a couple of injuries from last weekend so we had to change the team and change our way of playing a little bit and I thought we came here, did a resilient job and should have won by more. We had good players playing and they have all done a really good job today for the team.
“In the end with the wind coming down the pitch there was obviously going to be some pressure. There were a lot of long throws and free kicks in there but we defended resolutely. I think I made better substitutions this week to help with the long balls that were going into our box.
“I think Stack only had one save to make which was in the last five minutes. If you play that long percentage game like they did in the second half then I suppose that over a period of time you are going to get one or two chances but with a keeper like Graham Stack he has done his job. Everyone once again has played their part.”
Martin also singled out the performance of Curtis Weston, who has captained the side during the last nine matches in the absence of Charlie MacDonald, and excelled in a more advanced position on Saturday to register his first goal of the campaign:
“Curtis has been fantastic. Today he worked much higher up the pitch and had to do an awful lot of running with the closing down and pressure that we put them under. Then of course, when the ball came back into our half of the pitch he had to recover and get back and help with our other nine.
“But he has got the legwork to do it and he has got the athletic capability to do it. Curtis is just a good player.”
Saturday also saw more involvement in the first team squad for two Youth Team products in goalkeeper Kai McKenzie-Lyle and striker Mathew Stevens who were both named on the bench, something Martin believes is a positive thing for everybody:
“It really is nice to have them here. They are both good players and they are both good lads. If we had needed a goal, without a shadow of a doubt I would have put Stevens on. I don’t really see him as a kid, I see him as a goal scorer.
“Sam Cowler has got a stiff back so we decided to bring Kai up as I thought that it would be a good experience for him. It’s good for them and all of the senior players love having them around.”
Despite seeing his side stretch their lead at the top to five points, Martin insists that he is still not paying any attention to the league table, no matter how much Barnet fans keep reminding him:
“I have absolutely no interest in the league table whatsoever. I don’t even know where they are in the league. I’ve got to tell you I don’t even know where we are in the league!
“The only reason I know that we are top is because all of the supporters keep singing it every week. I kept getting this distraction from the merry little band of our supporters over on the other side of the pitch.
They were all singing and dancing and I think I must have smiled probably about half a dozen times looking across at them.
“After last week which was a tough afternoon it was lovely to see all those Barnet supporters and our players celebrating together at the end. On and off the field it was a good day all round for the club and I really enjoyed it.”
Attention now switches to tomorrow night, as Barnet take on Braintree Town at The Hive in the evening’s only Conference fixture with the chance to extend their lead even further.
The game comes just three weeks after Barnet drew with Braintree at Cressing Road, and Martin finished by revealing that he is relishing the challenge of taking on the Iron again:
“I’m sure all of our supporters are looking forward to it and I know that all of the players are looking forward to it. We’ve played them twice now and haven’t managed to get a victory having recently played them away and towards the end of last season when we drew with them at home.
“We know that we will absolutely have to be at our very best to beat them because they are tough team to play against and Alan Devonshire’s teams are always in that way, so we have to be on the top of our game just to keep it all going.”