After the shambles that was Tuesday night, it was important for the Bees to completely forget about that debacle, regroup and start again; they were playing hosts to Andy Scott and his decent Rotherham side. It was a year ago this very weekend both teams played out a bore draw, 0-0 at the Don Valley, and although it was a point a-piece again, this time round at Underhill, there was a certainly a lot more action – you could say it was a real game of two halves!
Barnet were forced into changes: Darren Dennehy’s red card against Bradford in the week and subsequent three match ban meant Clovis Kamdjo gave up his role in the centre of midfield to join the back four and fans’ favourite, Scott McGleish (on a one month’s loan from Bristol Rovers) started alongside Izale McLeod and Ricky Holmes – playing in a 4-4-3 formation.
It was a frantic opening five minutes with the home side straight out of the traps, and McLeod went close early on. But the opening goal came on seven minutes – Mark Byrne with a right-footed free kick which evaded everyone in the penalty area and nestled straight into the bottom corner.
Barnet 1–0 Rotherham (Byrne ’7)
It had been a while since the Bees had scored first and the early strike settled any nerves. It was obvious that confidence amongst the side was low following the last couple of defeats so the goal proved to be a bit of a boost.
However, the Millers responded well to going behind, and Liam O’Brien who retained his place in goal was called upon, keeping out a well-hit volley from Danny Harrison. It was a midfield battle with both teams trying to attack, and with both teams having chances it was obvious that the next goal would determine the way the game was going to go – one for the home side, and they’d manage to defend a two-goal cushion, but an equaliser for Rotherham, and who knows what’d happen – the game would really be in the balance!
And it was Barnet that could have so easily been two goals to the good approaching half time: Ricky Holmes with another excellent cross that somehow missed everyone, including the outstretched leg of man of the match, Sam Deering. Barnet went into the break feeling confident and looking good value for their lead.
Andy Scott made two substitutions at half time with Ben Pringle and Danny Schofield coming on and it was the former that ran the second half for the visitors.
Pringle got the equaliser for Rotherham within five minutes of his introduction, picking up a cross and driving the ball past O’Brien, with what was his first touch.
Barnet 1–1 Rotherham (Pringle ’50)
With Rotherham back in the game, they increased the pressure in an attempt to get the winner. Their chances were made easier with half an hour of play remaining when Barnet were a man-down (for the second time in two matches). Paul Downing, the offender – his first yellow for kicking the ball away, and given his marching orders for a foul on Paul Warne. The majority of home fans believed the decision to be unjust, but he’d made a bad challenge previously, and when you’re already on a yellow, you can’t just jump into rash challenges.
Even a man light, the Bees continued to battle and the performances of Deering and Holmes, given the situation, were a joy to behold; the latter was eventually substituted, much to the frustration of the home faithful. Playing in a 4-4-1 formation with McLeod the loan target, Barnet rallied, but there weren’t many chances of note for either side.
A draw was a fair result and whilst Barnet can be happier with their display this weekend, particularly with 10 men, Rotherham can possibly feel aggrieved for not making their man advantage count. Barnet play Gillingham at Priestfield next, on Tuesday.
Attendance: 1,765 (away: 284)
Barnet – O’Brien; Kamdjo, Hector, Downing, Mustoe; Deering, Hughes, Byrne; McLeod, McGleish, Holmes
Rotherham – R.Taylor; Mullins, Raynes, Griffiths; Bradley, Cadogan, Harrison, J.Taylor, Wood; Revell, Harrad