Date: 14th September 2011 at 12:24pm
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Despite Barnet collecting their first league win in 7 attempts at the expense of Plymouth Argyle, frustration not relief was the prevailing emotion amongst the majority of the 1849 supporters present at Underhill. Following the disappointment of Port Vale and Accrington Stanley, the Bees turned in another uninspiring performance and it was only due to Argyle`s own deficiencies that they emerged victorious in a game devoid of creativity or flair.

Both sides entered the game believing that 3 points were a distinct possibility, and each tailored an aspect of their tactical approach accordingly. Argyle, doubtless having seen the stream of long-range efforts that had beaten Brill in previous games, opted for a shoot on sight policy with Fletcher and Feeney firing early warning shots from outside the area. Meanwhile, Plymouth`s slow and ponderous back 4 was considered as reason enough for Sanchez to start with Taylor and McLeod heading a 4-4-2 aiming to use pace as the key to unlock the visitors.

In a frantic opening few minutes, it was the latter that paid early dividends, a succession of long balls were eagerly chased by Taylor resulting in Barnet gaining an early territorial advantage deep inside the Pilgrims` half. From Byrne`s subsequent long-throw, Larrieu came to punch, missed, and the ball fell to Izale McLeod who nodded in at the far post.

With only 7 minutes gone, this was the invitation for Barnet to press on the advantage and heap pressure on a nervy and disjointed side. The pressure of scoring relieved and with Holmes and Marshall on the flanks, it seemed that the Bees could switch the play as they had done to great effect against Colchester, using the flanks to create chances against a woeful Argyle back-four.

Unfortunately, the goal appeared to have the opposite effect on the home side, who dropped deep and barely seemed capable of stringing together 5 passes for the rest of the half. Having clearly been told to play the ball behind the Plymouth back-line to release the pace of McLeod, Taylor, and Marshall in the early stages of the match, Barnet resorted to aimless punts into the corners of the pitch aimed at neither of the three. Parkes` and Senda`s continual hitting of the ball “down the line” played perfectly into the hands of the Plymouth full-backs who, while slow and suspect against incisive passing on the ground, comfortable dealt with the negligible aerial challenge posed by Marshall and Holmes.

s the half progressed, Argyle gradually began to edge back into the match and fashion chances of their own. Given the slight physical nature and defensive frailties of their full-backs, Barnet are weakest at quick switches in play and long-balls towards the far post. Plymouth, having asserted control of possession, built several opportunities in this fashion and tested Brill with several well struck shots from distance.

The true level of Barnet`s defensive frailties was revealed just before the interval. Having won a corner, the ball broke loose and within seconds Barnet found themselves with a 3v2 situation in Plymouth`s favour. Fortunately, the bluntness of the Pilgrims` attack ensured that no real threat was posed, but such elementary mistakes will surely cost the Bees` against better opposition. Increasingly, Hughes and Byrne found themselves the wrong side of the ball when defending and incredibly Barnet were much the happier of the sides at the half-time whistle.

The second half continued in much the similar fashion even as Argyle visibly began to tire.

It was little surprise that when it arrived, the second goal came from a slice of good fortune. Plymouth failed to deal convincingly with a ball into the area and Danny Leach’s tame effort looked harmless until it struck a outstretched leg and bobbled over the despairing Larrieu. Once again Barnet had the opportunity to press forward and kill off a flagging side. Once again this opportunity passed them by.

Within 60 seconds of doubling the lead, a long ball was allowed to bounce by the retreating Leach and Kamdjo with Warren Feeney bringing a good stop out of Dean Brill. Encouraged Plymouth pressed again and only last-ditch defending from Senda and Brill again prevented a nervy last 20 minutes.

As the game petered out to a limp conclusion, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring on several substitutions to keep the squad fresh or at least to send a message that the performance on display was not acceptable. Owusu could have been bedded in, while match time for action-starved Cox and Deering could only have been a benefit in a game that was by now a foregone conclusion.

Instread, Sanchez made his changes in the last 2 minutes as a time-wasting move that served only to compound the frustration surrounding Underhill. A very poor display against a dreadful Argyle, with a manager who seemed intent on gaining the result alone ensured that Tuesday’s game was one to forget.

There is little doubt that, for all of their maginificent spirit and support, Argyle will be relegated this season unless there are drastic changes among the playing staff. This should have been an opportunity to play expressive attacking football against a weak and limited Plymouth side. Instead, Sanchez’s rudimentary tactic playing against the strengths of Holmes, Marshall and Byrne saw a one-dimensional display reminiscent of the darker conference days.

3 points but not much else.