Paul Fairclough postponed a trip to Paris with his wife to help keep Barnet in the Football League. In charge for just 10 days after chairman Tony Kleanthous made Ian Hendon his first sacking in 16 years, Fairclough masterminded the victory needed to make sure they stayed ahead of Grimsby. The 60-year-old, who guided the club into the fourth tier in 2005, said: "I brought them in here and, call it fate or irony I've been the manager who has been here when they stayed in. I wasn't supposed to be here, that's why I booked a holiday to Paris. My wife was in the stands supporting me."
The euphoria of safety, after Albert Jarrett's 89th-minute winner, was tinged with relief. The club invested heavily in The Hive, their training complex in Edgware which boasts high-class facilities and the 44-acre site would have looked out of place in non-league football.
"It would have suffered," Fairclough added. "All the centre of excellence players, the funding stops or is massively reduced for them after relegation. It happened to Barnet before. The last time we had to make massive cuts people lost their jobs. The implications were huge, I can't underestimate that. I know Bill Shankly said football is more important than life and death, I never agreed with that but today it was true."
His team's task was helped by Rochdale appearing content with their promotion to League One and in the mood for a summer holiday rather than spoiling Barnet's party. It took 44 minutes for Jason Kennedy to have their first shot, which was tipped around the post by Jake Cole.
The hosts created the better chances, starting with John O'Flynn forcing a near-post save from Frank Fielding. The Rochdale goalkeeper, an England Under-21 international, also denied Albert Adomah then saw Ed Upson's header crash back off the crossbar before the break. Upson also had an effort which was cleared off the line after the interval, while O'Flynn went through on goal but saw his finish saved.
The winner came when Micah Hyde shifted the ball to Adomah who cut inside from the right side. Veteran Paul Furlong eventually laid the ball back and Jarrett's finish went in off Marcus Holness.