The One Where Reality Came Crashing Down

Grimsby Town 2 Barnet 0

Fizzy Pop League 2

When "they" speak of relegation six-pointers, this is what they mean. Grimsby have been on good terms with the relegation positions all season. Barnet were top of the table in mid September, but have subsequently plummeted faster than Gordon Brown's spirit following bigot-gate (satire. Can't buy material like this). To the point where Barnet are now the only team that can stop Grimsby joining Darlington in the Blue Square Conference next season, with trips to Barrow and Histon to look forward to.

Of course, Barnet are no stranger to crunch games like this. A few years back, there was a game against Torquay on the last day of the season that would send the loser down. They lost that one too.

Desperate times at Underhill lead to the midweek sacking of manager Ian Hendon, with Conference-winning and England C-managing Paul Fairclough being brought in from upstairs for the final two games. Speaking with fans before, and during, the game, his impact has been immediate, in terms of attitude and performance if not, ultimately, results. Unfortunately, that's the one that really matters.

Both teams started out nervously, fully aware of what was at stake. A point would do Barnet. For Grimsby, a win would take things down to the last game of the season. Occasional forays into rival territory were easily repelled by both defences. Barnet's much hyped wingers failed to deliver, whilst Grimsby's more mobile front line were crying out for service. Backed by a well-lubricated and vociferous travelling support (the volume of which I hadn't experienced with Barnet for some time), Barnet got to half time on a clean sheet; hope was growing. 45 minutes, and the job was done. We may not get out of Blundell Park alive, but it would be a small price to pay.

Second half started with more confidence from both teams. Barnet knew they were passing the ball well, and had found faith in themselves. Grimsby knew they hadn't nothing to lose, and finally started to play like they understood that. Barnet's insistence on passing the ball out from the back may have caused a few jitters in the crowd, but it had clearly knocked Grimsby off their stride in the first half. One team talk later, and they understood they had to press the defensive line more, and force the errors.

The errors came. They are covered in more depth here. And there will be a more impassioned and informed view of proceedings here no doubt. For me, though, I saw a team that could play football, whose destiny is still in it's own hands. Fairclough has a week to install belief into a borw beaten squad. If the Underhill masses back them. If Rochdale are content to put their feet up. A win is all that is needed. not even that. Just match whatever Grimsby achieve at Burton. It is possible. It's more than possible. It just won't necessarily be fun.

Barnet, then.
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