Barnet boosted by youthful promise

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The Independent Online

Barnet, in fine form in both league and cup football, seem to be recovering well from the trauma of relegation from the Third Division last season.

On Tuesday they swept aside the challenge of the Dr Martens League promotion chasers Havant & Waterlooville in a dramatic FA Cup fourth qualifying round replay at Underhill. Wayne Purser hit a hat-trick inside four first-half minutes to give Barnet a 3-0 victory.

The Hampshire side's two veteran centre-backs, Liam Daish and Shaun Gale (both ex-Barnet men), could not cope with the pace of Purser and his strike partner Ben Strevens. Purser, a former Queen's Park Rangers youth-team player, described his rapid treble as "the best moment of my career." It is, according to his club, the third-fastest hat-trick in FA Cup history.

Hammering Havant earned Barnet a home first-round tie against the Third Division strugglers Carlisle. They will hold no fears for a team who have beaten two Second Division outfits, Bournemouth and Northampton Town, in the LDV Vans Trophy this season.

In the Nationwide Conference, after a rocky start, Barnet have climbed to fifth place. They had another hat-trick hero in last weekend's 3-2 win at Nuneaton, where Strevens took 11 minutes to claim a first-half treble. Tomorrow they entertain Woking, whose manager, Geoff Chapple ,was an impressed spectator at Underhill on Tuesday.

John Still, his Barnet counterpart, said: "We took a lot of knocks when we were relegated last season and it took time for us to settle down. I had to sell half a million pounds worth of talent, and I've got a team full of kids now."

All of Barnet's starting XI on Tuesday were with the club last term, since when they have parted with highly-rated players like the midfielder Darren Currie (now at Wycombe) and the full-back Sam Stockley (Oxford United). Still has faith in the youngsters he has promoted to his first-choice side. "Now we have the right framework in place," he added. "Winning this league is a realistic aim. We lack experience at times, but the potential is there."

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