The Opposition View: Barnet

Last updated : 11 September 2015 By Jim Bonner

What is your assessment of Barnet's season so far?

I'm a bit disappointed so far as so far out of our new signings only Bira Dembele has really made an impressive contribution to the side and we do not look any stronger than last season. Having said that, I'd say that our starting fixtures have mostly been against clubs who have been predicted to challenge for promotion this season (including yourselves!). I'm willing to wait a few more matches before I start worrying.

Martin Allen may well have joined Pompey in the summer had Paul Cook not taken the job. How happy are you that he stayed at Barnet?

This is quite a funny one as when Martin Allen came back to us for the fourth time I wasn't too enthused especially as the message from the club at the time was that they were trying to instil a certain type of playing style and ethos in all of the teams that the club run and Allen is a results-oriented manager.

However, I've been really impressed by how he's managed us since then and I am happy that he stayed on at us. I think he'll get us over this rocky start.

Bondz N'Gala and John Akinde are former Portsmouth players that our fans had split opinions on to say the least. What do Bees fans think of them?

We're positive about both of these players. I've heard that Bondz has not been fondly regarded by fans at some of his former clubs but I can't fault him. He's been a steady stopper for us, although he can be caught out by pace. He did well for us on loan in 12/13 so we knew what to expect.

As for Akinde, he's a hero. I haven't seen a striker with such a combination of power and speed since Dave Regis twenty-five years ago! Last season, it was obvious that the majority of Conference defenders were scared of him and didn't know how to deal with him, hence the number of penalties he won. He's been finding it a bit tougher this season but a lot of that is down due to the quality of service.

What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses in this current Barnet team?

Our togetherness as a squad is a bit asset. We're well drilled and quite physically strong so we'll make it a battle for you. On the wings we have the mercurial Luke Gambin who has the trickery and pace to trouble any full-back, especially in the second half.

Our biggest weakness is definitely a lack of a creative option in the centre of midfield. We really lack someone who can produce something unexpected. This is something you need at this level as opposed to the Conference as defences are much better organised and not prone to the sort of goal-losing errors that you seen in non-league. We did have such a player last season in Luisma Villa who has a deft touch, great vision and was very adept at linking up the midfield with the attack and at playing between the lines.

Unfortunately he became homesick for his native Spain and told Martin Allen that he wanted to go back home on the first day of pre-season training. We have definitely not replaced him.

Having said that, it does sound like creating chances was not a problem for us at Carlisle last Saturday, just putting them was our issue!

What do you make of the current Portsmouth squad and do you think we will be promoted at the end of the season?

Casting a cursory over your squad it certainly does look a strong one for this division and now that you have a proper manager in charge for the first time in a few seasons I certainly expect you to be up there. It's a shame that it didn't quite work out for Joe Devera and Ricky Homes at Fratton Park. Oh, and there is another set of fans who revere Sir Linvoy (makes him sound like a sound system toaster) just as much as you all do - us!

What kind of match can we expect at Fratton Park on Saturday?

Notwithstanding what I said about our approach at the Carlisle match, I think we'll try and be as compact as possible with a 4-5-1 formation designed to frustrate you and to counter-attack whenever possible. In the second half we'll throw Gambin on. Hopefully we won't be losing otherwise it will be a certainty that Allen will throw on Sam Muggleton; a full-back whose only discernible asset is his very, very, very long throw.

Predict the outcome of the game.

Ever the optimist, I'm going for our first league away win of the season 2-1. We still have to pay you back for the 5-0 FA Cup defeat at Underhill back in 1990/91 where Guy Whittingham was absolutely lethal and Andy Gosney made several great saves against Gary Bull and Andy Clarke.