Torquay United fans label undeserved loss at Barnet as 'floodlit robbery'
SOME frustrated fans may have booed Torquay United off Plainmoor, after last Saturday's FA Cup defeat to non-League Harrogate Town, but most of nearly 300 supporters stayed to applaud Martin Ling's side after they had beaten Barnet in every department except the scoreline at Underhill.
United's finishing was woeful in the Cup, but they could hardly be accused of not doing their best to put the ball in the back of the net on Tuesday night.
But Barnet, outplayed for almost the entire match, somehow survived and then broke out to snatch a winner through midfielder Clovis Kamdjo in the 79th minute.
'Floodlit robbery' was how one head-shaking United fan described it afterwards.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
But if the result was galling enough, Ling must now take his squad to Oxford United on Saturday without leading scorer Rene Howe and, probably, first-choice goalkeeeper Michael Poke.
Howe picked up his fifth booking of the season, and an automatic one-match suspension, after his growing frustration spilled over near the end.
And an injury to Poke, which prevented him from taking dead-ball kicks after half-time, forced his substitution.
Statistics never won a match, but they can be informative, and they were genuinely revealing.
United had 22 goalscoring attempts, 13 of them in the first half alone, to Barnet's ten. The corner-count was also 7-3 in their favour.
With two changes to the weekend starting XI – Ling brought Joe Oastler in at right-back and recalled Craig Easton to midfield – United might have been forgiven for a conservative start up the Underhill slope.
Instead, Barnet hardly got out of their own half for the first 20 minutes.
They could not match United's tempo, work-rate or their passing.
Billy Bodin, denied what looked like a pretty good penalty claim when Elliot Johnson appeared to trip him after only three minutes, adopted a shoot-on-sight policy.
And if one or two of his efforts were a touch ambitious, he certainly held nothing back in his efforts to make up for the Harrogate misses.
Bodin several times, skipper Lee Mansell and even Oastler all went close in that opening barrage.
Easton was exasperated to be booked in the 20th minute for a typical example of the sort of winning tackle which is being punished these days because it looked too aggressive.
He went for the ball and won it, but his impetus, nothing else, then took out an opponent.
Barnet winger Anthony Edgar did have a shot deflected across United's goalmouth, but it was only a rare exception to the general rule of pressure heading in the other direction.
Home goalie Graham Stack did well to get his fingers to a Howe chip – Mr Deadman gave a goal-kick – and both United's centre-forward and Bodin, linking up well, were within inches of grabbing the lead just before half-time.
Ling had to withdraw Poke and send on Martin Rice in the 48th minute.
But Rice had precious few worries, in contrast to Stack, who pulled out the save of the match to keep out Mansell header after another classy move involving Howe and Nathan Craig.
Even with former Ajax, AC Milan, Juventus, Barcelona, Inter and Holland star Edgar Davids restored to their midfield, Barnet were still second-best in everything but their defence.
But that rearguard has been the key to their recent revival, and the longer it went on for United without a goal, the more worrying it got.
Sure enough, after the Bees had sent on Olly Lee for left winger Anthony Edgar and Ling had introduced Danny Stevens for Easton, Barnet made the most of a counter-attack in the 79th minute.
Former Exeter striker Jake Hyde slipped Kamdjo away on a left-wing overlap and the Cameroon midfielder cut in and shot powerfully past Rice from ten yards...1-0.
Ling tried Ryan Jarvis for Damon Lathrope as United threw themselves forward again in the last ten minutes.
Howe and Bodin had shots saved or blocked, but still the ball would not go in.
Howe was cautioned in the 89th minute for a clumsy barge which flattened Kamdjo and, in stoppage time, an off-the-ball fracas also prompted Mr Deadman to book Aaron Downes and home defender Krystian Pearce.
Coming only four days after the Harrogate stunner, this was another hard-to-stomach defeat for United, but it was hardly deserved.