Football: Phillips savours his lucky night

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

GARY PHILLIPS has known the good times and the bad times at Barnet. On Tuesday, the man who has acted as groundsman, manager but mostly goalkeeper at the little North London club had good reason to celebrate his 33rd birthday in style.

Phillips produced a superb display as his Third Division team humbled mighty Manchester City 1-0 at Underhill in the first leg of their Coca-Cola Cup second round tie. A goal from Barnet's free transfer capture from Queen's Park Rangers, Dougie Freedman, after just 27 seconds - his 10th in 11 games - proved enough to beat sluggish City, who simply could not beat Phillips at the other end no matter what they tried.

Last season, after the departure of their previous manager, Barry Fry, and chairman, Stan Flashman, Phillips kept Barnet alive as a stand-in manager but, with a savagely depleted squad, could not prevent relegation.

He stood aside to let Ray Clemence take over the job. Under a board, Barnet are going well in the league and have now registered their first win over a top-flight club.

'This was the best result I've been involved with,' said the former Brentford and Reading goalkeeper. 'I would not say it was the best game I've ever played - because the luck was with me.

'But this year I've had the feeling that not much is going to get past me. It's the confidence that comes from playing behind a good team. Everybody knows the pressures we had last year, and all the bad things that happened, but now we've put all that behind us.

'This is the nice side of it. There were some bad times, but the pressure's off me now, Ray takes all that. That's brilliant, because he's fantastic at it and says all the right things, does all the right things, and I get my jobs to do and go and do them. It's so much easier for me.

'It's been a great night for me. We know it won't be a cakewalk up at Maine Road, but we've got that little lead and if we give it the gun up there, who knows, it could be a bit of history.'

City performed poorly and their manager, Brian Horton, admitted they would have their work cut out in the return. 'We are just glad there's a second leg,' he said. 'The boys are very disappointed with their performance

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