Football: Barnet find a Ray of light

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The Independent Online
Barnet. .0

Chelsea. 0

Attendance: 23,200

AS Ray Clemence said yesterday, you have to be mad to be a goalkeeper. The former Tottenham coach was providing proof of his condition when he emerged as a key figure at Barnet as they celebrated a remarkable performance at Stamford Bridge, while looking ahead to a court hearing in Liverpool tomorrow that could put the club out of business.

On a day when there was almost as much activity off the field as on, Clemence was appointed general manager of the perennially troubled Second Division club. He appeared afterwards alongside Gary Phillips, the player-manager, and David Buchler, the chairman, who must persuade the Court to give the club - pounds 1.7m in debt - another stay of execution.

Clemence described his new job as a wonderful opportunity: 'I've seen enough here today to show that this club can go forward,' he said. He may just be right. Never mind that Barnet are 10 points adrift at the bottom of the table. After losing their first 10 league games of the season, that represents something of a triumph. They've learnt how to battle, and in the FA Cup that's what counts for most.

Glenn Hoddle, the Chelsea manager who thought such brittle displays as his team gave were over after three successive wins in the Premiership, acknowledged as much. 'Let's take nothing away from Barnet,' he said. 'We didn't deserve anything but a defeat.'

Hoddle was being unduly magnanimous. Chelsea did not play well but they still had the chances to win. That they didn't was down to the guts shown by the Barnet defence, behind which goalkeeper Phillips was alert to all dangers. Whether, with Clemence's arrival, he will retain any real control over the team remains to be seen. But as the man who more than anyone kept the club going through dire times lately he has plenty to be proud of.

Barnet by no means clogged their way to this result. With Carl Hoddle showing the odd touch worthy of his brother - and his fellow midfielder

Peter Scott also playing impressively - Barnet always gave as good as they got.

The elusive running of Kelly Haag and Tony Lynch's pace on the left threatened the Chelsea goal as early as the sixth minute when Haag rose to meet Lynch's lovely deep cross but headed just over. In the end, no chance was better than the one that came Haag's way only two minutes from time when he narrowly failed to make contact with Shaun Close's low cross.

Having conceded the home advantage given them by the draw, Barnet must return to Stamford Bridge for the replay on Wednesday week. They have nothing to fear, other than their future existence, of course.

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