The Non-League Football Paper - - THE WEEK IN WORDS -

WHEN you’ve scored past Real Madrid goal­keeper Thibaut Cour­tois, you’ve prob­a­bly got some­thing worth say­ing when it comes to strik­ers. AFC Telford United man­ager Gavin Cowan cer­tainly thinks so when it comes to Matthew Barnes-Homer. Hav­ing seen the way the for­mer Kid­der­min­ster Har­ri­ers, Lu­ton Town, Macclesfield and Eng­land C striker is with the Bucks’ young hot-shots, Cowan has added the 32-yearold to his staff. Barnes-Homer will still be avail­able for se­lec­tion but his re­mit now in­cludes be­com­ing striker coach. “The strike-force at Telford is fright­en­ing,” Barnes-Homer says. “Mar­cus Di­nanga is 21, he’s just signed per­ma­nently from Burn­ley, but he was at Telford last sea­son and scored 25 goals. “We’ve got Daniel Udoh who was at Crewe and been loaned to teams like Leam­ing­ton and this sea­son he’s got 16 goals. An­dre Brown was at Kiddy, is a pow­er­ful striker who can score goals and Amari (Mor­gan-Smith) who has ex­pe­ri­ence. The young lads want to learn and progress. “I try to push them to make them think, ‘You are the best striker on the pitch, the best striker in the league and you want to score 20-plus goals ev­ery sea­son’. “You’re com­pet­ing against your­self. Can you keep that stan­dard? Can you bully de­fend­ers, can you help your team­mates? I en­joy watch­ing young play­ers scor­ing goals and do­ing well be­cause I was that age and I re­mem­ber how I en­joyed it. That’s what you have to make them see. It’s about win­ning things and scor­ing goals.” Barnes-Homer, who is still train­ing ev­ery day and ready to go despite not be­ing a first team reg­u­lar, is draw­ing on his own up­bring­ing. “We bounce ideas,” he says. “We try to show them dif­fer­ent runs, en­cour­age them to get in the box – can you get in those goalscor­ing po­si­tions? Can you get your body into the cen­tre-half dif­fer­ently, or win the ball in the air dif­fer­ently? It’s things I learnt when I was their age be­cause they play dif­fer­ently these days. It’s to have more pic­tures in your head.


“I’m al­ways onto them – goals, fin­ish, push each other. There’s a re­spect and com­pe­ti­tion be­tween the strik­ers but they all want each other to score goals. That’s what you need, but the main thing is to push your­self. “As a striker, if you want to be good, you have to score 20 goals ev­ery sea­son con­sis­tently. Work on your weak­nesses, add it to your game, it’s dif­fer­ent chal­lenges. “When I was at Wolves and trained with the re­serves you’d see play­ers like Nathan Blake, Dean Stur­ridge, Ste­fan Iver­son, Kenny Miller – even Leon Clarke, who was a year above me, is an es­tab­lished striker. Look at the goals he’s scored at all his clubs. “When I was at Wycombe it was Jer­maine Easter, Tommy Mooney. At Lu­ton, Kevin Gallen, Tommy Crad­dock. Peo­ple who score goals. “You play your own game but you take lit­tle parts. Justin Richards at Kiddy was al­ways onto me: Come on, be bet­ter. “At Kiddy we had Justin, Iyseden Christie and James Con­sta­ble. That was the com­pe­ti­tion for me to get in the team. I had to score more goals to get in the team. So ev­ery game you have to have a com­pe­ti­tion against your­self to bet­ter your­self.”


From Kid­der­min­ster, Barnes-Homer went on to Lu­ton, was part of Cam­bridge United’s FA Tro­phy and pro­mo­tion dou­ble and starred in Macclesfield Town’s 2012-13 sea­son where he scored 21 goals as well as two against Cardiff City in the FA Cup third round. A bro­ken cheek­bone prob­a­bly ham­pered the re­cent years of his ca­reer as he bounced around clubs, had an­other spell in Amer­ica, be­fore set­tling at Telford. And he reck­ons the club have got a se­ri­ous man­age­rial tal­ent on their hands in for­mer Nuneaton de­fender Cowan. “He’s only been manag­ing for this sea­son but he’s up there with the best man­agers I’ve had in my ca­reer,” Barnes-Homer says. “His ideas, the way he pre­pares – it’s fright­en­ing. We’re not full-time but we dom­i­nate teams in the divi­sion. The way the team plays, the way the play­ers un­der­stand him and the way he is as a man­ager is scary. I’m sur­prised he’s not al­ready had other in­ter­est from clubs.” Barnes-Homer says his ca­reer is now about the big­ger pic­ture of Telford do­ing well as they aim for Na­tional League North pro­mo­tion. But what about those nights he’s en­joyed. Like the big games with Lu­ton, his ex­ploits with Macc and his Eng­land C caps, which in­cluded a clin­i­cal fin­ish past a Bel­gium side with Cour­tois in goal. “That got him his move to Chelsea didn’t it?” Barnes-Homer laughs. “It’s mem­o­ries over the years isn’t it – mem­o­ries that can’t be taken away.”

PIC­TURE: Pin­na­cle

YOUNG LI­ONS ROAR: Matthew Barnes-Homer, left, cel­e­brates with Robert Atkin­son and Jim Con­way af­ter beat­ing Bel­gium U23

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