Barnet v Boreham Wood
Monday 26th December 2022, 3.00pm
The Hive, Vanarama National League
The Wood will follow up Christmas with a local derby on Boxing Day, with a short trip to Canons Park to take on Barnet in their final game of 2022.
IN FOCUS: BARNET
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 much more positive start to the season this time around. Under the guidance of Dean Brennan who was initially appointed as Caretaker Head Coach in 2021, the Bees have enjoyed their best start to a season since they won the division in 2014/15, racking up 36 points from their opening 21 games to sit comfortably in the play-off places going into the final game of 2022.
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, Sean Shields, 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 so far this season with just four teams finding the back of the net more times, and has seen them look far more likely to finally break their duck and return to the Football League.
LAST TIME OUT
Barnet 1-0 Plymouth Parkway
Tuesday 20th December 2022
Isuzu FA Trophy 3rd Round
A last minute winner from Daniel Powell secured Barnet’s passage into the Isuzu FA Trophy Fourth Round, after being held for much of the game by Southern League Premier Division South side Plymouth Parkway.
In a game with minimal chances, the first real opportunity fell to the visitors who forced Laurie Walker to stop a free kick from flying in after 15 minutes, but it was the Bees who began to take control with openings for Harry Pritchard who twice saw efforts go amiss as he skied a header before firing straight into the arms of Adam Parkes minutes later. Nicke Kabamba would then go close as he was denied from point blank range shortly before half time, but Parkes was on hand to ensure it was goalless going into the break.
Kabamba was keen to make his mark on proceedings and had the first chance of the second half, but was unable to keep his header on target as they looked to break the deadlock. He should have given them the lead with 23 minutes to go after being played through one on one but he was unable to keep his shot down, moments before Sam Beard was denied with a crucial intervention off the line. The Bees later thought they had taken the lead through Danny Collinge in the second half when he put the ball in the back of the net, but this would be ruled out for offside as it seemed it just wasn’t Barnet’s day. However as it looked to be going to penalties, substitute Powell stepped up in stoppage time to curl the ball beyond Parkes and send his side into the Fourth Round right at the death.
Plymouth Parkway (H) W1-0
Wealdstone (H) W2-0
Accrington Stanley (A) L1-0
Torquay United (H) W1-0
Chelmsford City (A) W0-1
Oldham Athletic (A) W0-2
Barnet have been in positive form throughout the season, and have come into the own over the past couple months after a relatively inconsistent start to the campaign. Their recent form has been no different, and they have lost just one game from their last eight in all competitions. After bouncing back in the league from defeat against Southend United by beating Altrincham, this kick-started a good run of form that brought a comfortable victory over Oldham Athletic and which preceded narrow wins over Chelmsford City and Torquay United, the former coming in the FA Cup after a draw had taken it to a replay. Ethan Hamilton’s only goal of the game meant a repeat of last season’s FA Cup Fourth Round Qualifier between the Wood and Barnet wasn’t on the cards, with the Bees being eliminated by Accrington Stanley who would go on to draw Luke Garrard’s side in the Second Round, but they bounced back with victory over local rivals Wealdstone a week later. They would ensure they maintained a winning run when Daniel Powell’s late winner secured two from two against Plymouth Parkway last time out, meaning Barnet come into Boxing Day’s fixture with plenty of confidence.
IN THE DUGOUT: DEAN BRENNAN
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.
ONE TO WATCH: NICKE KABAMBA
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 11 goals so far this season after arriving at The Hive in the summer.
LAST TIME WE MET
Barnet 1-0 Boreham Wood
Tuesday 15th March 2022
Vanarama National League
The Wood tasted defeat on derby day as Ephron Mason-Clark’s strike was enough to give Barnet all three points.
It was the hosts who got on the front foot from the off and controlled much of the early stages, although the Wood could have had a golden opportunity when Tyrone Marsh appealed for a penalty which was waved away. Barnet would soon be rewarded for their dominance though as Mason-Clark took advantage of a lapse in concentration between David Stephens and Jamal Fyfield when the ball fell to him in front of goal, before slotting his shot into the bottom corner from a tight angle. The Bees continued to see the better of the chances with Reece Grego-Cox going close, but the Wood did produce their first real chance with Josh Rees testing Aston Oxborough. The game seemed to open up towards the end of the half with Marsh, Dennon Lewis, Stephens and Rees all forcing Oxborough into saves as they looked to make their improved performance count, but they were unable to find a way through before the referee signalled the end of the first half.
The visitors continued to take their momentum after the break with Lewis delivering a cross to Jacob Mendy Mendy who forced Oxborough into another save, before Grego-Cox and Mason-Clarke both went close at the other end. The second half proved to be more even than the first, but the hosts though they had doubled their advantage when a high looping shot from Sam Woods bounced in, but this would be ruled out for a barge on Taye Ashby-Hammond. They continued to grow back into the game with ex-Wood man Jamie Turley sending a header onto the roof of the net before Mason-Clark was unable to convert a golden opportunity with Ashby-Hammond in no man’s land, moments before Grego-Cox also missed a good opening. There were some late chances for Mendy Mendy and Will Evans as they looked to steal a point from the grasp of their neighbours but Barnet remained resilient to prevent the Wood from finding a leveller, and as a last ditch chance for Marsh rolled into the grateful arms of Oxborough, this proved enough for the referee to bring a close to proceedings.
HAVEN’T WE MET BEFORE? CONNOR SMITH
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.
OUR TOWN. OUR CLUB. OUR COMMUNITY.