Barnet have had mixed fortunes on their first season in the National League for four years.
Relegated from League Two last May, despite the best efforts of Martin Allen, the north Londoners were in the relegation zone after two draws and three defeats in their first five matches of the season.
However, wins in their next five games lifted them up to ninth, but inconsistent form since then has seen them float around either side of mid-table.
Their exploits in the FA Cup and FA Trophy have left them playing catch-up in the league – they have dropped to 17th in the table, five points above the relegation zone, but have only played 26 matches, with nobody else completing fewer than 30.
Their away form has been better than their home form in the National League, with six wins and a draw from their 13 games on the road, but four wins and four draws from their 13 matches at The Hive.
This is the third time in their history that Barnet have reached the fourth round of the FA Cup, while they are also still in the FA Trophy, and on Saturday drew 3-3 again – this time at Carshalton Athletic, in a game where the home team hit back from 3-1 down to earn a replay in the final 18 minutes.
Their FA Cup adventure began in the fourth qualifying round with a 4-2 win over fellow National Leaguers Braintree, while they pulled off a giant-killing in round one by beating League One Bristol Rovers 2-1 in a replay at the Memorial Stadium after an initial 1-1 draw.
In round two, they beat National League North Stockport County 1-0 at The Hive, before earning their famous 1-0 win at Championship Sheffield United in round three.
The winners of Tuesday’s replay travel to Swansea City on Sunday 17 February for a game being shown live on BBC Wales at 4.00.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Former Barnet midfielder Darren Currie was appointed full-time head coach on 23 January, nearly a month after replacing John Still, who retired from the role, on a caretaker basis.
Currie made 136 appearances in midfield for the north Londoners in three years around the turn of the century as part of a 20-year playing career.
Starting as a trainee at West Ham, but never making a first-team appearance for them, he went on to represent Shrewsbury (loan), Leyton Orient (loan), Shrewsbury, Plymouth, Barnet, Wycombe, Brighton, Ipswich, Coventry (loan), Derby (loan), Luton, Chesterfield, Dagenham (loan), Dagenham, Boreham Wood and Hendon,
He went into coaching with the Daggers, having a couple of brief spells as caretaker manager, before joining Barnet as Still’s assistant last summer.
Former Brentford midfielder Junior Lewis, is part of Currie’s coaching team. He made 12 full and three substitute league and cup appearances for us under Martin Allen in 2005/06.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
The Bees and the Bees have not met very often over the years, with most of our encounters coming in cup competitions.
The most famous is probably the extraordinary 5-5 draw in the first leg of a first round Rumbelows League Cup tie at Underhill in 1991 – Barnet’s second game as a Football League club which followed a 7-4 home defeat to Crewe on the opening day of the season. We went on to win the second leg 3-1.
We hold the upper hand in our league meetings, with seven wins a draw from our eight games, and we also won the only other FA Cup tie between the sides – 3-1 in 1925/26.
The sides have met six times in the Football League Trophy in its various guises, with three Brentford wins, two Barnet wins and one draw.
Our last competitive meeting before last Monday’s FA Cup tie, came in the southern semi-final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in 2011 – and Barnet beat us 5-3 on penalties at Underhill after a goalless draw.
For anyone who hasn’t seen last Monday’s thrilling 3-3 draw at The Hive, you can watch highlights and hear fans’ views below and read a report here.
Q – You were at the first tie – what did you make of the match?
A – I thought that it was a thoroughly enjoyable and pulsating classic cup tie with some great goals, attacking football and a narrative which swung one way then the other. I thought both teams approached the game in the right way and the atmosphere under the lights helped add to the sense of occasion.
Q – What would Barnet need to do to win the replay – play as they did at The Hive, or change their tactics?
A – As with the first game really, Barnet have nothing to lose. As the lower-ranked side they will again be underdogs and so I feel they can approach the game in the same way. They showed last week that they have players who can cause problems and they all appear to be enjoying playing under the new(ish) coaching regime… I wouldn’t expect too much of a change from Brentford so I would assume Barnet likewise will adopt the same approach.
Q – What do you make of the impact Darren Currie has had since taking over?
A – I am pleased that Darren has been given a chance to become the number one at a club and it seems apparent that the way he wants to play the game is already being instilled into the players. He was a class operator on the pitch and it is clear that he wants his team to play attractive football.
Just from last Monday it is clear that the players are buying into what he wants, and the fact that he was already working with them under John Still has ensured a degree of continuity. There have been a number of positive results, none more so than in the cup, and that only further enhances the early impressions that he has created
Q – What sort of impact can this cup run have on Barnet’s remaining league programme?
A – We all love a cup run, and Barnet are still involved in two high-profile knock-out competitions, having now been taken to a replay in the FA Trophy. The FA Cup in particular is great for profile and the bank balance, but for clubs especially lower down the football ladder, it leads to fixture pile-ups. They already have four or five games to make up on sides in the National League and further Cup or Trophy progress will increase that.
Their current position looks a little threatened, just five points above the relegation spots, but wins in all their games in hand would push them to the play-off fringes. While the number of games may preclude a real push for the top seven, the profile from the FA Cup in particular may help boost crowds and grow confidence in the club.
Q – Do you have any memories of big Barnet or Brentford Cup ties or other games in the past?
A – One memory which sticks out in regards to Brentford is the last time the Bees went to a fourth round replay. That winter’s Sunday afternoon at Griffin Park, when the Bees got so close to beating Chelsea, was a brilliant FA Cup encounter and the game that got my son hooked on the chaps from Griffin Park. We experienced it in the stands rather than the press box and it is a great memory.
As for Barnet, my fondest memory of covering them is the day that Martin Allen guided them to safety with a win at Burton, thanks to a last-minute fingertip save from Dean Brill. It may not have been a cup game, but it did happen on Cup Final Day and felt like a huge match.
Martin spoke to me on air after the game and when I asked him what next, his answer was very typical. “What time is it?” He asked, “Five O’Clock… Well I’m actually out of contract so technically I’m looking for work.”
Q – Do you think Barnet will make many changes for the replay – bringing back goalkeeper Mark Cousins maybe?
A – I’m not sure that Darren will make too many changes, but Mark Cousins has been really important this season, including that save he made at Sheffield United. It’s a great chance for his players to make an impact so I would have thought he’ll have everyone chomping at the bit to be ready.
BEESOTTED SCORE PREDICTIONS
Some of the Beesotted crew have given me their score predictions for Tuesday’s game.
– A Bees victory, regardless of the score….although it could go to penalties, with Brentford winning 2-1 on spot-kicks! Lou Boyd
– 4-0 real Bees Barnet run out of steam Gerry the cabbie
– 3-1 real Bees I think we’ll come out and bury them in the first half, Sawyers and Kamo should rightly be in the starting 11 and will run the game. They’ll peg a goal back late second half. Robin Hood
– 4-1 real Bees Brentford will prove too strong under the lights at Griffin Park… Barnet won’t be pushovers though. Dave Lane
– Real Bees to win 3-1. All those shots that hit the post in the first game to go in. Sav
PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS
For Barnet fans coming to the game, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming and away-fan-friendly (as it should be).
As you are probably well aware, Brentford is well known for its four pubs – one on each corner of the ground.
The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side and is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal and the Royal Oak are the other options.
Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) …. The Globe (Windmill Rd) & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) are both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and about 1 min walk from each other …. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’.
The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields. The ‘Northfields run’ makes a much better pub crawl route than South Ealing – getting off at Northfields station, turning left and stopping off at The Plough (2 min walk), The Lord Nelson (10 min walk from The Plough) & The Globe (1 min walk from The Nelson) en-route before ending up at The Griffin (8 min walk from The Globe) by the away turnstiles.
There’s also a relatively new tiny microbrewery pub in Northfields called The Owl and The Pussycat (Northfields Ave)– right turn out of the station away from the ground as opposed to left.
And another new pub worth checking out is The Black Dog Beer House, formerly The Albany, on Albany Road.
There is a pub right by Brentford mainline station referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.
For real ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman (Ealing Road) can probably hold 15 of you at a push.
The Brewery Tap (Catherine Wheel Road) is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super-adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit One Over the Ait (Kew Bridge Road) – a spacious boozer right next to Kew Bridge, and across from the site of the Bees’ new stadium at Lionel Road, with a deck overlooking the river – and The Express Tavern (Kew Bridge Road) – an ale pub with a retro feel. There are a load more pubs in the river in Kew if that takes your fancy.
A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many, many more too if you have a look around.
Parking near the stadium is a no no but is pretty easy in the streets north of Griffin Park on the other side of the A4 Great West Rd via Ealing Road or Windmill Road. Make sure you look our for the parking signs which change from area to area.
Getting to Brentford from town – many fans get the tube to Waterloo (Northern, Jubilee lines) or Vauxhall (Victoria Line) then take the Overground train to Brentford.
By tube, it’s 35 minutes to South Ealing or Northfields stations from King’s Cross or Euston (less from Paddington) and then 15 minutes walk to Griffin Park from there (4 mins on the bus) – more if you take the Northfields to Brentford
You can check out Transport for London’s guide to travel on the Tube and Overground.
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