Date: 19th July 2007 at 12:53pm
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Barnet kicked off their pre-season friendlies with a 2-0 defeat at home to Premiership giants in the usual annual curtain raiser.

Goals from Emmanuel Adebayor and Nacer Barazite either side of half-time gave the Gunners victory but the Bees will be pleased with the performance they put in.

Lee Harrison made his debut appearance as captain of the side, whilst trialist Sagi Burton got a chance to impress as he lined up in central defence alongside Ismail Yakubu; Joe Devera and Nicky Nicolau were the full-backs. The only Barnet player unavailable for this game was James Cole who was on the sidelines suffering from a hamstring injury.

A trio of new Bees’ midfielders made their debut along the only surviving midfielder from last season, Jason Puncheon. Michael Leary and Neal Bishop were the central midfield pairing whilst Max Porter was given the role on the right, despite his normal position being centrally. Liam Hatch and Adam Birchall started up front for the Bees.

The game started with a minute’s silence for John Harding who died of a heart attack a few weeks’ ago.

Arsenal took control in the opening stages and soon enough Adebayor got the first of the game, as he struck the ball in from Theo Walcott’s cross from the right. Puncheon could and maybe should have got the equaliser after he was sent through one-on-one with Almunia but his shot was blocked. Van Persie’s header rebounded off the crossbar soon after and Denilson also had a good opportunity just inside the Barnet box but his drive went wide. Both teams, as normal, made changes at half-time. West Ham trialist David Blackmore replaced Harrison whilst Yakubu, who formed a good partnership with the impressive Burton, was replaced by another trialist, ex-Rushden & Diamonds defender Michael Bostwick. Porter moved into the centre of the park as Leary, whose tackling was particularly good, was replaced by Ashley Carew who played on the wing. The front two were replaced by Anthony Thomas and trialist Stephane Claude Seanla.

Puncheon brought down Denilson early in the second half which caused the Arsenal midfielder to be strechered off though it was later announced it was not a serious injury. Nacer Barazite added a second for the visitors after a good run and fierce shot, helped in by the Blackmore.

With 20 minutes to go, Thomas went on a run of his own, but couldn’t get his shot away. The instrumental Puncheon was again involved in a Barnet chance as he sent Seanla through on goal but the latter’s shot was palmed away by Fabianski. Blackmore pulled out a good save late on to make sure it wasn’t three, whilst another Puncheon shot went just a wide after excellent skill to get away from his marker.

Fan Richard Evans came on in the 88th minute to entertain the crowd further.

So, 2-0 and overall a good performance from the Bees. What do we make of the trialist and new signings performances? A solid Burton looked very good at the back alongside Yakubu in particular although he does lack a bit of pace. Blackmore didn’t do that well, and should’ve done better for Arsenal’s goal. Porter played the first half on the right though it’s clear he isn’t a winger and he subsequently looked much better when he played centrally in the second half. Leary was one of the more impressive debuts, getting stuck in a tackling well. Carew’s passing and distribution was good and looked comfortable on the ball on the wing. Bostwick showed himself to be a promising, no-nonsense defender and did his chances of earning a contract no harm. Bishop got better as the game went on and looked decent by the end of the game. Thomas looked quick and lively, making intelligent runs and just from that performance looks like a great prospect this season, contrasting Seanla who didn’t seem to make much of an impact. None of the foreign trialist made an appearance.

Meanwhile for the players that were here last season: Harrison was his usual self, Hendon didn’t have that long on the pitch and being assisstant manager isn’t expected to be playing many games next season anyway. Birchall made some good runs and Devera looked good at right-back. Nicolau did well to handle Walcott’s pace and won’t be under such pressure in normal league games next season. Yakubu partnererd Burton well, and Hatch working as hard as has become expected of him. But star man on the pitch had to be Puncheon who was a constant threat throughout the game, with his skill, crossing, pace, passing and shooting ability all showing great promise ahead of the new campaign. He should’ve bagged himself a goal too – when he helped himself set up a one-on-one with the Arsenal keeper.