Despite His White Boots

Football, football, football and, if the mood takes me, more football.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Barnet 1 Swindon 1 (2-0 on penalties)

Barnet battled hard with 10 men for almost an hour to hold the higher division outfit off and win a penalty shootout. The first half was fairly even but Barnet really do miss Liam Hatch, and the current incumbent Cliff Akurang is nowhere near as much of a threat. Three minutes before the break the mostly anonymous Billy Paynter was given enough room to trundle away from his marker and slot home through keeper Rob Beckwith's legs to give Swindon the lead.

The home supporters, newly housed in a South Stand that has been put up remarkably quickly, were still fairly optimistic though as we've seen the Bees turn over many a half time deficit kicking down the slope. Akurang somehow managed to get tangled up with a defender in the six yard box with the keeper nowhere, and Swindon smuggled the ball away, but soon enough Jason Puncheon, who was excellent as usual, tricked his way to the byline and sent in a fierce cross which the hapless Paynter deflected into his own net. Unfortunately when Michael Leary was sent off for a nasty two-footed lunge, Barnet lost all momentum and created little for the rest of the game. However, they defended well and Beckwith only had to make a couple of good blocks to keep the scores level and force the dreaded penalty shootout.

In all my time of watching football I honestly can't remember seeing a live shootout before (I was mercifully absent for the QPR - Vauxhall Motors debacle). Unsurprisingly, it's good fun being behind the goal in use so you can wave your arms and shout "Wanker arrrrrrgh" at journeyman League 1 pros. Whether this helped or not who knows, but criminally, Swindon failed to hit the target with any of their first three kicks. Paynter hit the bar, Roberts pulled his shot wide and Aljofree blasted over. Yakubu prodded his shot wide for the Bees, but either side of that Thomas and O'Cearuill slotted home. With four kicks to go Swindon needed to score both theirs and save both of Barnet's to keep the tie alive ; however only one was needed as some egg proved John Gregory's theory of left-footed penalty takers being crap (really) by popping his shot up at a good height for Beckwith to make a save.

And so, anticlimactically, Barnet face more League One opposition on Saturday as Bristol Rovers overcame mighty (ha) Fulham tonight in their replay. I should be there and if any readers fancy a trip to Underhill for the magic of the Cup, let me know.

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