12:53pm Sunday 6th May 2012
By Adam Newson
Martin Allen probably described it best. After watching his Barnet side secure League Two safety with a 2-1 win against Burton Albion he said: “It’s a special afternoon”.
Going into the game, the Bees knew victory at the Pirelli Stadium would mean whatever result Hereford United secured against Torquay United would be irrelevant.
Allen’s men got the perfect start as Mark Byrne fired home a free-kick in the fifth minute.
However, Barnet stuttered in the opening half and the score was soon levelled as Jacques Maghoma netted.
The Brewers had a great chance to take the lead as Calvin Zola won a penalty but the striker smashed his spot-kick well over the bar.
The second half was dominated by the Bees. Chances came and went but, on the hour, the ball dropped to captain Mark Hughes on the edge of the area and he steered a shot into the corner.
Barnet defended well but nearly dropped out of the Football League in the last minute. A corner was headed towards the top corner from Patrick Ada only for Dean Brill to produce a fantastic save.
A minute later the Bees safety was confirmed and, despite Hereford defeating Torquay 3-2, it was the Bulls who exited League Two.
Reflecting on a dramatic match Allen said: “It was a nervy afternoon. We didn’t play that well in the first-half, but I suppose that was to be expected with the tension and anxiety of the whole week knowing we had to come here and win.
“But in the second half we played really, really well. The players stepped up to the mark and full credit has to go to them for that performance they put in, it was total domination and it was really just a matter of time.
“I felt we should have had two penalties go our way but the captain has hit a fantastic shot of the shin from the edge of the box and has taken us to three points.
“So I’m pleased for all the players, all the staff and the atmosphere created by the supporters was pretty awesome. It’s a special afternoon.”
He continued: “I had a link right behind the dugout and knew what the Hereford score was but I have been totally and only focussed on one thing – coming here to win.
“All the players and staff knew what we were doing. We were coming to win and what happened elsewhere was totally irrelevant.
“The other person was there in case we needed to change it tactically in emergency.”
Allen returned to Underhill to take charge of the final three Barnet matches of the campaign.
His brief was to keep the Bees in League Two and he has succeeded. When asked whether he will now remain at the club, he answered: “I’m unemployed now. I was employed by the club for three games, I’ve done my best; we seem to have done pretty well together. But I’m unemployed now.
He added: “I love to work and hate being unemployed. When I’m not working for a football club I go and work in schools, colleges, universities. I’ve been working a lot at my sister’s special needs school which I have loved.
“So I don’t like sitting on my backside. It will be up to the chairman and whoever else at Barnet to discuss it, look at it and decide what’s best for the football club.”
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