Having flirted with relegation from League Two for a number of years, Barnet’s stay in the English Football League came to an end in the 2012-13 season, although they spent just two years in the doldrums of the National League before bouncing straight back up.
However, after two 15th-placed finishes and miserable 2017-18 season – in which they placed 23rd – Barnet were demoted back down to the fifth tier once again, and their efforts to return to the promised land of League Two have produced a mixed bag of results to say the least.
Under the tutelage of Dean Brennan, though, Barnet forced their way into the playoff quarter-finals with a fifth-placed finish in the 2022-23 season, but their Wembley hopes were quickly extinguished in a 2-1 defeat to local adversaries Boreham Wood.
A meagre tally of one win from their final nine games in the regular season did Barnet no favours either, but last term’s endeavours were a marked improvement compared to their four successive finishes outside of the top 10, and the Bees will also test their mettle against Hemel Hempstead, MK Dons, Crystal Palace and Cambridge United before July is up.
While Barnet suffered heartbreak in their bid to return to League Two, Norwich City did not fare much better in their bid to bounce back to the Premier League, and David Wagner has affirmed that his players must be prepared to “suffer” themselves over the next few weeks.
Memorably guiding Huddersfield Town to the top tier in 2018, David Wagner was appointed in January after the sacking of Dean Smith, but the 51-year-old could not replicate his Terriers magic at Carrow Road, leading Norwich to a disappointing 13th-placed finish.
That mid-table ranking snapped Norwich’s four-year yo-yo streak between Premier League and Championship football, and the Canaries faithful cannot consign the end of the 2022-23 season to history quickly enough, as their side failed to win their final six second-tier games – losing each of their last three.
In fact, a 2-0 success over Blackburn Rovers represented Norwich’s solitary win from their final 11 games last term, and the Canaries enter the new campaign having waved goodbye to their long-serving number nine Teemu Pukki, who is departing for Minnesota United.
Barnet and Norwich have only ever locked horns once in competitive football, when the Canaries thrashed the Bees 5-2 in the first round of the 2007-08 EFL Cup, where a recognisable name in Jason Puncheonscored one of Barnet’s consolation efforts.
trio of new players have arrived at the Hive Stadium for the 2023-24 season, with midfielder Sam Barratt – who made the move from fellow National League outfit Maidenhead United – forward Callum Stead and defender Adebola Oluwo all committing to Barnet.
Twenty-three-year-old Stead arrives on the back of a 13-goal season for Brackley Town in the National League North, helping his side reach the playoff final, where their promotion dreams came to an end in a 2-0 defeat to Kidderminster Harriers.
All three could be in line for their non-competitive debuts here, while eight players have moved onto pastures new, including Peterborough United-bound midfielder Ryan De Havilland.