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In opposition: Barnet v Gillingham

5 September 2012

As our new series continues on we preview one of this week's big matches with the help of a supporter from each club.

This Saturday, Martin Allen returns to his old club Barnet, as Gillingham manager, as top play bottom in npower League 2.


Name: Iain Dalziel.

Club: Barnet.

Number of years as a supporter: 14.

Favourite moment as a fan: The greatest of great escapes in 2011, which slightly pips winning the Conference in 2005. Winning the title and promotion was truly fantastic, but the elation when we somehow retained our League status two years ago was something else. We had been dead and buried for most of the season, even as late as April no-one really gave us a chance, it was just a remarkable turn around.

How many games a season do you attend? Too many.

Where do you sit? Main Stand for the first half, the bar for the second when things have gone wrong.

Name: Simon Head.

Club: GIllingham.

Number of years as a supporter: 20.

Favourite moment as a fan: Promotion at Wembley in 2000.

How many games a season do you attend? Previously, around 25 - but work and family commitments have seen that number drop this season.

Where do you sit? Medway Stand Lower.



What happened in your last match?

ID: An unfortunately predictable 2-0 defeat away at Rochdale.

SH: We lost. But defeat in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy to Crawley Town is less important than three points in a league game, and we're looking to continue our unbeaten run - we're the only unbeaten side in League 2.

Why is this game important?

ID: We are still searching for our first win under the new manager and the club's new 'footballing philosophy'. It needs to happen sooner rather than later, as it is already looking like this could be the season where there aren't two worse teams than us.

Some of the early results and performances have been poor and, with a tough set of fixtures coming up, it is hard to see where that first win will come from. This will be a tough game, but we need to get off the mark somewhere and in front of our home crowd would be the ideal place to start.

SH: We're focused on promotion this season so every match is hugely important. Staying unbeaten, and hopefully winning is the aim in this early part of the campaign.

How do you see this game going?

ID: Well, it's bottom versus top; it is hard to see too far past an away win. As it happens, were we going into this game with Gillingham's manager in charge of our side - Martin Allen, the man who kept us up last season - then I would certainly not be writing us off.

We all know what Mad Dog is about, he's a great motivator of players and always seems to be able to get the best from his teams. He's generally done this at sides with a limited ability, but given the obviously quality that Gillingham already had, combined with the players he's added over the summer, they look like they will be a real force this season.

It is hard to be too optimistic having seen our side well beaten in our last home game at Underhill, against York City. The performance levels will have to be considerably higher if the team are to achieve anything from this game. I think most Barnet fans would gladly take a point, but I feel the away side will be too strong for us.

SH: Barnet have struggled so far this season and no longer have the 'get out of jail free card' of a 20-goal striker in Izale McLeod, so I see a long, hard season for them, unfortunately. I think Gillingham will be too strong and run out comfortable winners, probably by a couple of goals.Who should we keep our eye on?

ID: Ricky Holmes has shown much promise and, when fit, is a danger to any defence at this level. Goalkeeper Graham Stack, recently signed after leaving Hibernian, will most likely be making his home debut in this game. Given the two sides' league positions going into it, you would anticipate he may be quite heavily involved in proceedings. Hopefully he will show why he's always been at a higher level and prove that we have pulled off quite a coup in acquiring his services and experience.

SH: New signing Myles Weston is probably the best winger in League 2 and can play out wide or through the middle. His pace and direct running will cause a threat to any defence in this division.

Any memories of previous encounters?

ID: Romping to a 4-2 victory at a very hot and sunny Priestfield Stadium on Easter Saturday a couple of years ago, in the 2010/11 run in.

Gillingham were chasing the Play-Offs, while we were still a number of points behind our rivals at the bottom. An early strike from Mark Byrne and an Izale McLeod hat-trick sealed the points for us, in what was certainly one of our best away displays since returning to The Football League in 2005.

Our recent record against the Gills has been pretty decent, which perhaps provides us with some hope for Saturday. In 2009, we put in another fantastic performance at their place, with goals from John O'Flynn and Paul Furlong giving us a comfortable 2-0 win.

SH: Two seasons ago, Gillingham outnumbered Barnet's fans as Andy Hessenthaler's side, bolstered by loan signings Charlie Lee and Chris Whelpdale, came from behind to claim a 2-1 win at Underhill, with both loanees scoring. Both men are now an integral part of the Gillingham side and are likely to feature at Underhill this time around, too.

Score prediction?

ID: 4-1 to the visitors. I would love to be more positive, but given the strength of the opposition in this game and in a number of the forthcoming ones, it is hard to see this season getting better before it gets worse.

SH: 3-1 Gillingham.

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