Barnet v Boreham Wood
Tuesday 2nd May 2022, 7.45pm
The Hive, Vanarama National League Play-Off Eliminator

The 2022/23 Vanarama National League season isn’t over quite yet for the Wood, who kick-off their play-off campaign with a trip to local rivals Barnet, looking to get beyond the eliminator round and set up a semi-final tie with Notts County.


Barnet have spent much of the current century bouncing between the Conference and League Two, with a third relegation of the 2000s in 2018 preceding a difficult period for the club which saw them saved from a fourth relegation by the abandonment of the 2020/21 National League season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is alongside a handful of mediocre league finishes, but their luck is seemingly started to turn for the better with a more positive campaign this time around, and as a result has seen them enjoy a rapid rise which was completed on the final day, ending the season 13 places higher than they did in 2021/22. Under the guidance of Dean Brennan who was initially appointed as Caretaker Head Coach in 2021, the Bees enjoyed their best start to a season since they won the division in 2014/15, racking up 39 points and sitting comfortably in the play-off places at the end of 2022, and they largely maintained this sort of form into the new year with an eight-game unbeaten run at the start of 2023 including a six-game winning streak in all competitions. Consistency seemed to falter a little though as the campaign wore on, and although they were able to retain their spot in the play-off places, a comfortable defeat at Notts County in February seemed to kick-start a more difficult end to the season, as they won just six more games to finish fifth.

The Bees strengthened in the summer after the likes of Ben Richards-Everton, Harry Taylor, Wesley Fonguck, Adam Marriott and Ephron Mason-Clark left the club, with the arrivals of top scorer Nicke Kabamba, Laurie Walker and Idris Kanu joining from League Two clubs to bolster the squad alongside the likes of Dale Gorman, Danny Collinge, Jerome Okimo, Moussa Diarra, Harry Pritchard and Ben Wynter, who opted to depart fellow National League clubs to move to The Hive. As a result they can boast one of the highest scoring teams in the division this season, in fact only league leaders Wrexham and Notts County scored more than the Bees, who come up against a Wood side who have conceded less goals than anyone else in the division. It is this sort of competitiveness which has seen just one encounter between the two sides end with a margin of more than one goal from their last 12 meetings, but nonetheless will be keen to get one over their noisy neighbours as they look to finally break their duck and return to the Football League.


Barnet 0-2 Dagenham & Redbridge
Saturday 29th April 2023
Vanarama National League

Barnet ended the 2022/23 campaign in defeat, as goals from Inih Effiong and Sydney Ibie sealed victory for Dagenham & Redbridge at The Hive.

The hosts started brighter as they looked to end the campaign with momentum heading into their play-off campaign, and won a free kick on the edge of the box which was laid off to captain Dale Gorman, who curled his effort just wide of the post. The Bees continued to dominate proceedings as Kian Flanagan tried his luck from range, but his effort was weak and never looked like troubling Elliot Justham. Barnet would be presented with their first big chance of the game 20 minutes in though as Sam Beard drove 40-yards down the left-hand side before pulling a cross to the back post, where Marvin Armstrong fired his effort well over the goal. With the hosts dominant, the Daggers will have been looking to retain some control and saw Effiong have their first effort on goal after 25 minutes when David Longe-King found Balanta on the left flank who brilliantly found Effiong in the middle, but the striker couldn’t get any power on his effort and was easily held by Laurie Walker. A Daggers corner followed which provided a nervy moment for the Bees keeper, who completely misjudged the flight of the ball and was left in no man’s land to allow Jay Bird a crack at goal, but he couldn’t direct his header on target. Keen to ensure this didn’t spur the visitors on, the hosts went inches away from finding the opener as Courtney Senior was found in acres of space around the penalty area before sending a low effort goalward which skimmed the frame of the goal. David Moyo later provided Justham with his first real test as the half reached its conclusion, with his low-driven effort flying through multiple Daggers bodies before reaching the keeper, who did well to read the ball’s movement and ensure his side went into the break level.

The Daggers came sprinting out the blocks in the second half and raced into the lead, as a Mo Sagaf long ball found Effiong who bullied his way past two defenders before firing the ball into the net. This put the visitors in the ascendancy, but the hosts responded by going close to an equaliser on the hour-mark as Moyo was found in the box before directing his header straight at Justham. Harry Phipps later pulled off an unbelievable block as Senior struck a thunderous effort which was destined to hit the back of the net, but the centre half threw his head in the way and stopped a certain goal to keep the Daggers ahead. The hosts continued to press for an equaliser, and this time it was Rob Hall’s turn to try his luck from range as he sent an effort well over the crossbar, before George Saunders went close to doubling the visitors’ lead when he reacted fastest to a loose clearance before striking an effort goal-bound with the outside of his foot, but Moussa Diarra did well to get himself in front of the effort. In search of a leveller, Barnet would amp up the pressure and forced Phipps to become the first Dagger in the referee’s book with five minutes to play when the centre back cleverly bought down Senior as Barnet threatened to break, and his decision to take one for the team would prove worthwhile as the Daggers doubled their lead in the dying embers of the game, with Ibie racing through on goal to cooly to score his first Daggers goal, wrapping up both scoring and the season with Ben Strevens’ men returning to East London with the three points.


Dagenham & Redbridge (H) L0-2
Maidenhead United (A) D1-1
Solihull Moors (H) W1-0
Wrexham (H) D0-0
Maidstone United (A) D0-0
Bromley (H) D1-1

A string of five games without defeat saw Barnet enter the final game of the season in good stead for their play-off campaign, although they have struggled to turn their draws into victories and will be hoping to change this in the play-offs. Following two successive defeats at the hands of Gateshead and York City, the former coming in the FA Trophy semi-final, the Bees bounced back against play-off rivals Bromley on Easter Sunday with goals either side of the break sealing a draw, before goalless draws against the two teams at both ends of the table in Maidstone United and Wrexham. This would be followed by their first win in eight outings, with Harry Smith’s first half strike enough to seal victory over Solihull Moors and cement their place in the play-offs, before a late goal from Maidenhead United’s Charlee Adams cancelled out Smith’s opener for a fourth draw in five games. Their unbeaten run would come to an end on the final day though with Dagenham & Redbridge overcoming the Bees at the Hive, and they will be hoping to get one over the Wood in the eliminator round despite entering the post-season games without much momentum.


Whilst playing for Hemel Hempstead Town, Dean Brennan was appointed as caretaker boss at the age of just 29, fulfilling a player/coach role with Dunstable Town as well. After retiring, Brennan transitioned into management properly and returned to Hemel as manager, where he would enjoy a successful six years at Vauxhall Road. He guided the Tudors to their highest ever league finish before overseeing promotion to the Conference South after winning the Southern Premier League by ten clear points, before spells with Billericay Town and Kingstonian followed. Brennan later joined Wealdstone and led the club to the National League South title, but resigned two years later to become Head of Football at Barnet, briefly holding the role before returning to management to replace Harry Kewell initially as Caretaker Head Coach, later being offered the role permanently.


Experienced striker Nicke Kabamba is a real journeyman having turned out for 14 different clubs, racking up over 100 goals in nearly 400 career appearances. A sprinter who opted to play football as a child, he would begin his career with Hayes & Yeading United where he impressed in the youth team and was picked up by Uxbridge, scoring 18 goals in 59 games. He would bounce between a number of non-league clubs including AFC Hayes, Burnham, Hemel Hempstead Town and Hampton & Richmond Borough before being spotted by League Two side Portsmouth, who signed him on an 18-month deal. The striker has subsequently remained above the sixth tier ever since with loan spells at Colchester United and Aldershot Town during his brief stint at Fratton Park, before moving on to National League newcomers Havant & Waterlooville in 2019. He later joined Hartlepool United on an initial loan spell which was made permanent later on before crossing the border to join Scottish Premiership side Kilmarnock, scoring on his debut for the club ahead of an 18-month stint in Scotland. He soon returned to England to join Northampton Town and later added Barnet to his long list of employers after a loan spell at fellow National League side Woking. He is currently their top scorer with 19 goals so far this season after arriving at The Hive in the summer, firing them to a fifth place finish.


Boreham Wood 1-1 Barnet
Monday 2nd January 2022
Vanarama National League

It was a point apiece at the LV BET Stadium Meadow Park as Sam Wynter’s late strike cancelled out Danny Newton’s opener to kick off the new year with a draw on derby day.

The Wood came out the blocks quickest with a golden opportunity after just two minutes, as Josh Rees forced Laurie Walker into the first save of the game before being called into action again immediately after with the ball falling to Ndlovu, but Walker pulled off a magnificent double save to deny the rebound and produce a goalmouth scramble which was eventually cleared. It was certainly a one-sided opening 15 minutes as Barnet struggled to see much of the ball, and the Wood produced a number of half chances with Lee Ndlovu at the heart of it as he twice turned provider with no success, as well as heading a tame effort straight at Walker. An opener would soon be on the way though when Newton found himself one on one with Walker, and although he was unable to beat the Bees stopper at the first attempt he recovered well to reach the rebound and send an unstoppable strike beyond Walker which nestled in the far corner. The hosts had the momentum and continued see the better of things throughout the first half, with Broadbent striking just wide of the bottom corner minutes after breaking the deadlock before almost doubling their advantage shortly before the half-hour mark when Rees robbed possession from Barnet in a dangerous area before breaking away and firing a powerful effort which was destined for the top corner, but Walker produced a good save to deny him. Barnet grew into it towards the end of the half and had their best chance on the stroke of half time when Danny Collinge headed over the crossbar from a corner, before a disappointing first half from the Bees’ perspective came to a close.

The visitors will have been fired up at the break after an improved end to the first half, and it took two minutes for them to produce a chance as Sam Beard hit the post via a deflection. They came close to a leveller again moments later as former Wood man Idris Kanu ended a superb run into the box with an effort that flew over the crossbar, before the Wood responded with debutant Chris Bush going close at the other end when he headed over from a Rees corner, moments before Broadbent fizzed a dangerous volley into the North Bank. They came ever so close to doubling their lead when Rees found himself through on goal but he was unable to fire past Walker who pulled off a great save, with Newton unable to meet the rebound before Walker recovered. This seemingly spurred the visitors on and they thought they equalised moments later when Wynter headed past Nathan Ashmore, but the flag was up for offside despite the wild scenes in the away end behind the goal. Barnet soon found a leveller that did count though, with a delicious ball into the box being met by Wynter who headed past Ashmore once again, this time able to wheel away in celebration. This proved to be a sucker-punch for the Wood who had led for almost the entire game, but they probably should have had a chance to restore their lead when Broadbent went down in the box under a challenge from Beard, however the referee waved away the appeals. In search of the winner, Walker was twice tested late on by Newton and then from Ndlovu, before Rob Hall curled an effort wide of the far post with neither side able to find another way through as it ended honours even.


Republic of Ireland youth international Connor Smith will be remembered by Wood fans with the midfielder enjoying two spells at the club. Smith dropped into the National League despite turning out nearly 100 times for League Two clubs AFC Wimbledon, Plymouth Argyle and Yeovil Town, joining Boreham Wood in July 2018 and going on to feature nine times in a brief first stint at Meadow Park. He would depart after just six months to join Billericay Town before finding regular game time at Wealdstone, and he impressed enough to convince the Wood to re-sign him ahead of the 2021/22 campaign. This time arriving as a player/coach, Smith played 15 times in all competitions as the Wood made history in the FA Cup by reaching the Fifth Round, with the 29-year old even playing 16 minutes at Goodison Park in what would be one of his last appearances for the club. Indeed, he played just four more times throughout the campaign and opted to depart for a second time, joining neighbours Barnet in July where he has made six appearances so far this season.



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