Pompey v Barnet: The Insider’s view

Noel Hunt is out for the rest of the season. Picture: Joe Pepler

Mansfield v Pompey: early team news

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The start to the season could have gone better for Barnet, you don’t need to watch them to know that.

However, performances have been better than the results, with two wins in the first nine matches not doing Martin Allen’s side justice.

Barnet's Andy Yiadom PPP-151009-175151002

Barnet's Andy Yiadom PPP-151009-175151002

They were unlucky at Leyton Orient on the opening day when they didn’t take their chances, while at Carlisle last weekend the Bees created more opportunities than the previous games put together.

There were 28 shots, of which 11 were off target, but they lost 3-2, summing up the season so far in 90 minutes.

Taking chances has been the issue, which is surprising considering John Akinde is up front – a player who netted 31 league goals last season.

This term there are no expectations, no aims, although chairman Tony Kleanthous recently didn’t help things by saying in a Q&A with supporters that he hopes to get promoted!

Obviously, Barnet want to stay up and quietly think they have enough to do that comfortably.

Certainly during a tough start to the campaign, all the opposition, apart from Carlisle, will harbour ambitions of finishing in the top seven.

Pompey fans will recognise two of the Barnet players in Bondz N’Gala and Akinde, who have done well at the Hive Stadium.

N’Gala is prone to an error if anyone in the team is, but did well enough last year and Allen trusts him.

Michael Nelson is a bit unlucky not to be playing alongside Bira Dembele more often, but at his age – 35 – he is at a stage where he hasn’t got the legs to play Tuesday-Saturday-Tuesday.

N’Gala is prone to switch off from time-to-time but competes physically, winning most of his aerial duels, isn’t the slowest considering his size and can handle himself.

He’s a classic defender who kicks anything that moves and heads anything that moves.

Akinde was fantastic last season, although so far has struggled to step up. He has not succeeded at this level before and, apart from a loan spell at Wycombe, has bounced around League One and League Two without much success.

He previously had a year at Alfreton which was the making of him, scoring 18 goals in a very poor side in part-time football.

Akinde has matured physically and mentally, he is a different animal and an absolute machine who bullies defenders.

It’s a good partnership between him and Michael Gash, with Gash dropping deeper and Akinde going in behind the defence.

Everything is built around Akinde – the way Barnet play is getting the ball to him as quickly as possible.

Regardless, Andy Yiadom has been the player that has stood out so far, successfully converted from a right-back into a right winger.

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