PREVIEW: Luton Town v Barnet
After Jon Nurse was dismissed for his horror challenge that caused Town midfielder Jonathan Smith to suffer a double leg break on Boxing Day, player manager Edgar Davids and former Plymouth boss Carl Fletcher received their marching orders in a defeat to Salisbury on Saturday.
The spree of dismissals for Davids, his third this season and fifth since joining the club in October 2012, has led the former Dutch international to question calling time on his illustrious playing career.
Davids, now 40, who has also been booked four times in his nine appearances this seasons, told local media: “I think I know for definite now that the league is targeting Barnet.
“I don’t know how many games we have played but there is weird decision making all the time.
“It is ridiculous, especially the first one (yellow card) because everyone can see I cleared the ball.
“That was an absolute disgrace. The other one for the red card was also a disgrace.
“I am a target but it is ok. I don’t think I am going to play anymore because they are taking away the fun and I want the team to do well.
“If you look at the red cards, some are definitely red cards and some are exaggerated.
“It is hard to complete our tasks when a lot of decisions are against you.
“The fun of playing in this league, I have just lost it.”
The festive period hasn’t brought much joy to Bees fans as after they went down 2-1 to Luton, they also were beaten 2-1 by Salisbury.
Saturday’s defeat was something of a surprise as Barnet had been in decent form on their travels, taking 19 points from a possible 39 this season.
Away from the Hive, Bees started off in excellent form, with two wins and a draw, including victories at Gateshead and Braintree.
They went five games without a win on the road, before triumphing 1-0 at Hereford, although suffered a 6-0 mauling at League One Preston North End in the FA Cup.
Despite defeat at Grimsby, they then won back to back games at Dartford and Hyde without conceding a goal before the reverse at Salisbury at the weekend.
Team news: Barnet have top scorer Keanu Marsh-Brown back in the side that lost to Luton, as he returned from suspension at the weekend.
Jon Nurse, Edgar Davids and Carl Fletcher are all banned, while Marciano Mengerink remains out through injury but Luisma Villa and Andy Yiadom could return after missing the 2-1 defeat to Salisbury City.
Hatters are without Jonathan Smith (double leg break), Alex Lacey (metatarsal), Andy Parry (hernia), and Danny Fitzsimons (knee), while Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu has been recalled by West Ham United.
Both Solomon Taiwo and Jon Shaw are back in training now, but not expected to feature against the Bees.
Top Skrill Premier scorer: Hatters: Andre Gray (13). Bees: Keanu Marsh Brown (8).
Man in the middle: Kevin Johnson – This season, he has shown 28 yellow cards and three reds, the dismissals all coming in the same game, from his 10 Conference matches.
Taken Luton once this term in the league, that a 2-0 win at Kidderminster, while has yet to officiate a Barnet win, with two goalless draws and the 2-1 home defeat to Macclesfield.
Reffed Luton five times last season, where the Hatters won three and lost two and also had the whistle for the 1-0 home win over Stockport the campaign before.
Was also in charge of Town’s 4-1 win over Mansfield in 2009-10, sending off Callum Reynolds for two yellows.
In charge: Edgar Davids - the 40-year-old former Dutch international is without doubt the stellar name in the Conference, with Champions League, Serie A and UEFA Cup winners medals to his name amongst a host of other titles.
Played for Ajax, AC Milan, Juventus, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Tottenham and Crystal Palace throughout his career, while he was also capped 74 times by Holland, playing in the World Cup once and three European Championships.
In 2012, he was appointed player-manager at Barnet alongside Mark Robson, taking over himself when Robson left in December 2012.
View from the opposition: Bees keeper Graham Stack speaking to local media on the defeat to Salisbury - “The nature of the goals we have conceded were schoolboy. At the free kick people were not marking and it has happened time and time again this season.
“It is something we have spoken about and tried to rectify but clearly the penny hasn’t dropped.
“The manager getting sent off didn’t make things any easier but I can’t say the lads haven’t given everything.
“We had a tough game against Luton with 10 men and now we’ve played with nine men. We are not making things easy for ourselves.”
Average home crowd: Luton: 6,639. Barnet: 1,933.
One to watch: Keanu Marsh-Brown - been having a fine season in front of goal, scoring eight times in the league so far.
Began in red hot form with seven goals in his first 12 matches, but has tailed off since, bagging one league strike in his last eight outings and was also red carded in the 6-0 FA Cup defeat to Preston.
The 21-year-old started out at Fulham, where he was sent on loan to MK Dons and Dundee United.
Moved to Oldham and then went to Yeovil, before a loan move to Barnet was made permanent in the summer.
Friendly faces: Hatters chief John Still took over as Barnet manager in June 1997, leading the Bees to the play-offs twice in his time there.
In November 2000, became director of football at Underhill after Tony Cottee was appointed as player manager, but took over again in March, although was unable to prevent relegation to the Conference.
Stayed on as manager and director of football but resigned as manager in January 2002 and left the club at the end of the campaign.
Hatters defender Anthony Charles helped Barnet win promotion from the Conference in 2004-05, playing over 60 times for the Bees.
Town’s first team coach Hakan Hayrettin played for Barnet during 1989-93 after joining the club from Leyton Orient.
Meanwhile, Barnet striker Harry Crawford was on trial with Luton at the start of the 2012-13 season.
Last time out: Hatters went into an early 2-0 lead during their League Two clash in their League Two clash during December 2008.
Paul McVeigh (11) and Chris Martin (15) were on target, before Bees pulled one back through Abu Ogogo, a player that boss John Still signed for Daggers.
Ogogo was then dismissed on 45 minutes and Luton sealed the win late on through a Michael Townsend own goal.
Hatters: Conrad Logan, George Pilkington (Asa Hall 81), Ian Roper, Jake Howells, Michael Spillane, Keith Keane, Rossi Jarvis, Chris Martin, Paul McVeigh, Drew Talbot (Claude Gnakpa 89), Kevin Gallen (Wayne Andrews 89).
Subs not used: Dean Brill, Sol Davis.
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