Barnet FC came into the last game of the season knowing a win would see them as the Vanarama Conference champions and their football league status reinstated. Having lead the Conference for nearly the entire season, the Bees were full of confidence, but with Bristol Rovers just a point
behind and in good form, no doubt there were a few nerves amongst the players and fans alike.
The chairman Tony Kleanthous was surely nervous, as he had ordered the pitch to be sprayed with Holy water before the game.
Barnet started the match well. They were passing the ball expertly and pressing Gateshead all over the pitch when not in possession. Gateshead could barely get out of their own half. They were resorting to long ball tactics and struggled to create an opportunity of their own. Barnet were registering a shot every few minutes and even as Gateshead became more involved as the match went on, this would be the theme for nearly the entire game.
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Barnet's best chance of the early stages fell to Gash, who's weak shot was cleared off the line, but surely he should have left it to Weston who was better placed for the shot. The two seemed to get in each others way. Then just after 20 minutes, news came in from the Memorial Stadium that Bristol Rovers had taken the lead against Alfreton. Nerves amongst the fans were soon eased however, when a Sam Togwell cross was met by the head of Mauro Vilhete to put the bees in front. Gateshead must feel they could have done better as they let the smallest man on the field score a header from inside the box, but Barnet won't care.
News then came that Bristol Rovers had scored a second and only victory for the Bees would do. Barnet continued to press for their second goal and the all important cushion. After a few more shots, Barnet rattled the bar courtesy of a Curtis Weston volley, but the second goal still eluded them.
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On the stroke of half time, Gateshead nearly grabbed an equaliser. After some great work by Sainte-Luce, Patterson's low strike was well held by Graham Stack. The Barnet keeper did well to get down to his right and keep hold of the ball with the Gateshead players rushing in for the re-bound.
In the 48th minute, with Bristol Rovers now 3-0 up, Barnet found their cushion. Another Togwell cross, and another Vilhete strike from close range put the bees 2-0 ahead. Surely this was now too much for Gateshead to come back from. They did however force Stack into a world class save. The Barnet keeper had to get down to his right to palm away a close range header from Finnigan. Great reaction stop from the goalie. Barnet then had a few close chances. Andy Yiadom's header was defended onto the bar and Vilhete had a great chance for a hat trick, but put his shot just wide.
Gateshead did have a goal wrongly disallowed for offside in the 86th minute, but this would surely have proved to be too little too late. Even the 7-0 victory for Bristol Rovers wouldn't stop the party in North London.
As the final whistle went, The Hive erupted into ecstasy. The scenes were amazing as the fans invaded the pitch, jumping around for joy. Tony Kleanthous was in tears. Martin Allen the Barnet manager was smiling for probably the first time this season and the players all had smiles of their own. Even Barnet's ex-manger Edgar Davids had a smile on his face. The long season was now over and Barnet are the Champions and can look forward to playing in the football league next season.
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