|Away Day Report: Barnet|
Written by BlueBloke on Saturday, 21st Jul 2018 22:25
I wake up at 6.44am.
The feeling is just about back. You know the one. An afternoon of watching the Town is on the agenda, albeit in pre-season, and I’m reminded that no World Cup bonanza can satiate or surpass the urge to watch the Blues.
Should I really want to watch a shaven-headed Luke Chambers screaming at a refereeing decision (spoiler alert: it took him just five minutes of today’s match) over Kylian Mbappe’s race to outpace the speed of light for France?
Is it normal to be more fascinated in Paul Hurst’s 4-2-3-1 than Gareth Southgate’s 3-5-2? And should it matter that in a tournament in which England reached a semi-final, I was still fractionally more interested in whether we’d made any summer signings?
The trip to Barnet, just 90 minutes from my front door in Greater London, would be my first Town match since the 4-0 mauling of Reading in April. It only dawned on me after today’s game that the last three Town games I attended were overseen by three different managers. Are we Leeds United in disguise?
After hopping on the 12.23 to London Waterloo, I board the Jubilee line train to Queensbury. Thirty-eight minutes, 15 stops and a few pages of my book The Big Screen later, I arrive in North London.
It’s a muggy day and the 15-minute walk to The Hive gets me about as worked up as David McGoldrick in one of his cameo appearances. I purchase my ticket and head in completely the wrong direction to the stand all 922 of us are sat in.
Upon arriving at the West Stand, I’m told by a security guard I need to enter from the other side. I head back the way I came and now I really know how Didz felt at being asked to track back.
Upon entering the ground, I see plenty of blue shirts. We’ve taken over this unsuspecting suburb of London for the day with all the menace of a team nicknamed the Tractor Boys can muster. The starting XI warm-up with new fitness coach Nathan Winder, with physio Chris Skitt taking the substitutes in a rondo (essentially piggy in the middle).
We control the first half, passing the ball confidently and pulling Barnet all over the pitch. It’s grand to watch, but there’s little penetration. The ball breaks for Jordan Roberts but he smashes just wide. Martyn Waghorn, still a certified Ipswich player, bends a freekick into the side netting. Forty-five minutes done and I’m relatively satisfied.
Tristan Nydam, Andre Dozzell and Gwion Edwards are introduced and really catch the eye. Edwards sets up Myles Kenlock for an excellent finish. Watching it back, you can see Kenlock’s instinct to dart inside once he realizes Edwards is in a cul-de-sac.
The change in Dozzell’s stature is striking. No longer the beanpole kid who scored on his debut at Hillsborough, but now a tall and athletic presence. Nydam is industrious and tidy, as usual. All three made a decent case to be included for the visit of Blackburn.
Interestingly, Jason Dozzell hopped on to the side of the pitch at full-time to speak to son, Andre. A couple of blokes behind me questioned whether Hurst would be annoyed by that, whether he could feel undermined that the first voice Andre hears upon finishing the game isn’t his. I get the point and did find it a bit unusual that Dozzell Snr pulled his son for analysis mere seconds after the full-time whistle.
I would have walked back to Queensbury station with some pep in my step, but it was just too darn muggy for that. I saunter back down the road and board the train into London with a couple of Town fans in the same carriage. My first game of the new season is ticked off. The feeling’s back.
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