Football: Clemence raises Barnet's spirits: Rupert Metcalf reports on a meeting of two former England goalkeepers which ended in a stalemate

Click to follow
The Independent Online
NO FEWER than five goalkeepers - past and present - made their mark on Saturday's proceedings at Underhill, where Barnet and Plymouth Argyle fought out a scoreless draw which was less than either side wanted in their contrasting campaigns at opposite ends of the Second Division.

The fact that most of the many press photographers on the touchline did not at any stage point their cameras towards the pitch was due to the presence in the dug-out of two men who between them kept goal for England 186 times: Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence.

Shilton's Plymouth side extended their unbeaten run to 12 games but missed an opportunity to claim second place in the table. Clemence, who arrived at Underhill a month ago, has steered his new team to four consecutive draws, but they remain 17 points adrift of the safety zone.

It was the first time the two had been on opposing sides since a First Division fixture between Tottenham and Southampton on Valentine's Day, 1986. The renewal of their rivalry overshadowed a match which was mostly scrappy and often bad-tempered - especially in the 74th minute, when Argyle's 20-year-old goalkeeper, Alan Nicholls, and Shaun Close of the home side were shown the red card.

Nicholls, signed from Cheltenham last summer, has been in such fine form that Shilton has not picked himself since October, and remains five games short of 1,000 League appearances. Nicholls has learned much from his manager - but not the wisdom of a cool temperament, and five minutes after being booked for bringing down Close just outside his area, he tangled with the same opponent again and both were dismissed.

Two minutes after joining the fray, Ray Newland, the substitute goalkeeper, was lying injured when a 20-yard volley from Peter Scott was headed off the line by Steve McCall. At the other end, Gary Phillips had been showing his worth in the Barnet goal, and collected the man of the match award for some fine saves either side of half-time when Argyle were on top.

Although Phillips retains the title of manager, Clemence, the general manager, picks the team. Despite Barnet's perilous financial position, he is enjoying the challenge. 'If you have a team who are prepared to work hard on the training ground and give everything for you on a Saturday, you can't ask for anything more.'

Shilton knows his old friend and rival is determined to be successful, but he said: 'I was surprised when Ray became a manager, I didn't think he was as daft as me]'

Barnet (4-4-2): Phillips; Haylock, Walker, Barnett, Mutchell (Lynch, 79); Close, Wilson, Scott, Cooper; Haag, Gibson. Substitutes not used: Marwood, Wild (gk).

Plymouth Argyle (4-3-3): Nicholls; Patterson, Hill, Comyn, Naylor; Burnett (Newland, gk, 75), Castle, McCall; Marshall, Landon (Evans, 57), Dalton. Substitute not used: McCarthy.

Referee: G Willard (Worthing).

(Photograph omitted)