Six points from nine would constitute a good start in most people’s books but not so Graham Stack’s. The Bees player-coach says Barnet are “in a good place” but felt the side underestimated Lincoln City on Saturday.
A 5-0 opening-day win at Chester was followed up by a 2-0 home victory over then-favourites for promotion, Bristol Rovers, before the Bees surrendered top spot and their unbeaten record against Gary Simpson’s Imps on Saturday.
Unlike their first two fixtures, where Barnet had set the tempo and controlled play early on, it was the Imps who took charge, going 2-0 up before half-time at The Hive.
A spirited second-half performance saw the Bees get one back through Keanu Marsh-Brown but Martin Allen’s side could not force the equaliser their superiority deserved.
Reflecting on the first three games of the season, Stack says the start has been “a mixture”.
The goalkeeper explained: “We started ever so well to hit the ground running the way we did with two difficult fixtures with Bristol Rovers – who are potentially favourites to win the league – and a very tough place to go, up north for your first game of the season against a tough Chester side, who were always going to make it hard for us to win, and to win as comfortably as we did.
“I don’t know if our mentality going into the Lincoln game was possibly [not right], maybe we felt as though it was going to be similar to the two games before,” suggested Stack.
“It was never going to be the case. I know Lincoln from last season and they’re a well-organised side, physically big, hard-working, almost a typical Conference side really.
“But the expectations for Lincoln this season are very similar to ourselves; they’ll definitely look to be pushing for the play-offs and I’m sure they’ll probably think they’ve got a chance of winning the league.
Stack continued: “So the assessment is, overall, we’re still in a good place; six out of nine points. There are a lot of positives after the last three games.”
The 32-year-old also believes the Conference is weaker than last season, owing to the loss of the sides who won promotion out of the division and those who replaced them following relegation from the Football League.
He explained: “I don’t think it’s as strong, with Luton and Cambridge not being in it.
“I think the two teams that have come down are not as strong. I don’t think Torquay and I don’t think Bristol Rovers will be as strong as Luton or Cambridge.
“I think they will find it extremely difficult to adapt to Conference football. It does take time, hopefully it doesn’t take us as long as the five years it took Luton but it does take a while to adjust and I do think these bigger sides will take time to adjust.”