Nationwide Conference - Saturday 5th October 2002
Attendance 871

My match report of the thrilling game at the Lawn on a day when Lieutenant Martin Allen first took took charge!

When a team scores 4 well taken goals away from home at any level of football it should expect to earn 3 points but that wasn’t the way it happened at the Lawn on Saturday 5th October 2002 as Forest Green Rovers twice clawed back a two goal deficit to share the points with the Bees.

Peter Shreeves

In Peter Shreeves absence Martin Allen took command on a gorgeous sunny afternoon in Gloucestershire where team changes from the previous Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Morecambe saw Danny Brown filling in at left back in place of Ismail Yakubu, Craig Pope in at Right Back for Lee Gledhill and the return of Neil Midgley in midfield. Jason Soloman continued as central defensive partner for Lee Pluck as Mark Arber was still injured.
Martin had walked into the clubhouse bar before the game and announced to the Bees fans enjoying a drink that he was in the hot seat – I can remember my then 13 year old son George being proud of punch asking Martin if he wanted a drink - “A diet Coke please young man” he said, so I paid............yeah ok.

Diet Coke? Should start drinking it again Martin

Barnet line up:
Lee Harrison, Craig Pope, Lee Pluck, Danny Brown, Jason Soloman, Ben Strevens, Mark Gower, Neil Midgley, John Doolan, Wayne Purser, Junior Agogo.
Subs: Ricky Millard, Chris Cashman, Ismail Yakubu, Leon Bell, Toby Oshitola

Barnet started very brightly with a brisk passing and movement game on the excellent playing surface and completely with the run of play deservedly went one up as a floated Mark Gower corner from the right was powerfully headed home by an unmarked Soloman for his first goal in a Barnet shirt after 13 minutes. 
Jason Soloman

The lively Junior Agogo once again impressed the noisy Barnet following with a brilliantly taken goal on 27 minutes exquisitely curling a shot past Steve Perrin in the Rovers goal from the left edge of the penalty area after the defence failed to clear
Junior Agogo PoY 2002-3

It was all going so well and the old favourite terrace songs and chants started up behind the Forest Green goal. Yet just 5 minutes later Lee Pluck’s challenge on the much travelled striker Neil Grayson was penalised and from the resulting free kick Jon Richardson headed comfortably past Lee Harrison into the corner of the net. Disaster struck right on half time as Jason Soloman’s firm back pass was chested down but not bought under control by Harrison and after an untidy scramble with Kayode Odejayi in the 6 yard box the ball finally ran loose and the big front man stroked the ball home. The scoreline didn’t reflect the balance of play in the first 45 minutes as Barnet’s front three of Agogo, Strevens and Purser plus Gower had caused uncertainty and hesitancy in the Rover’s over worked defence from the first whistle.

Rovers started the second half much the better team but soon Barnet got back into their stride with Purser and Gower causing problems wide and John Doolan marshalling the midfield with help from the hard working Midgely. FGR’s Steve Jenkins was yellow carded after 53 minutes and Barnet turned up the heat with some neat play. Eventually, just before the hour, Barnet’s pressure was rewarded as the Rovers defence failed to clear a Danny Brown cross and the ball fell to Ben Strevens who cleverly stabbed the ball into the right hand top corner of the net. 
Ben Strevens

Strevens turned supplier ten minutes later as his superb defence splitting pass was inch perfect for Gower to round Perrin and tap in goal number four. 
Mark Gower
Lightening can indeed strike twice as from that point on the game turned dramatically. The Greens began to believe they could get back into the match again and the Bees two goal lead was once more cancelled out this time by a brace of goals from substitute Alex Meechan. Grayson’s header over the top of the Bees defence on 71 minutes left Meechan clean through and he slotted the ball under the advancing Harrison as he raced ahead of the chasing defenders. Yakubu replaced Wayne Purser as Martin Allen strove to strengthen the ever shakier defensive line but that still didn’t stop Meechan snatching the equaliser and making it 4-4 with 5 minutes left latching onto a header from Odejayi. A nail-biting finale was endured by one and all. Mark Gower was booked for unsporting behaviour and the last chance of the game fell to Alex Sykes who should have won it for Rovers, his low shot beat Harrison to his right but clipped the outside of the post.

Added to the recent draws with Scarborough and Morecambe and victory over Stevenage this result made Barnet unbeaten in 4 games. However those of us who witnessed the game, and what was on reflection stunning entertainment, will know that 3 points were in the bag on two occasions and that was not play-off material.

At times Barnet were irresistible (heard that a few times) and one couldn't help thinking if Greg Heald, Mark Arber, Lee Flynn and Lee Gledhill were fit would we have let those leads slip?
Barnet FC 2002-03

This was one of those games when in years to come someone will ask ‘do you remember one year at Forest Green Rovers when it finished 4 goals each but we let a two goal lead slip twice?’

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