Stalwart Departs National League Promotion Chasers

Barnet have today announced the departure of left-back Sam Beard on a permanent basis.

Beard, who was the club’s longest-serving player, has joined Eastbourne Borough, managed by his father, Mark Beard, for an undisclosed fee after a loan spell in South-East England earlier in the season.

The 25-year-old started his senior career at Dorking Wanderers where he won two promotions in five seasons under the management of Marc White. His impressive form for the Wanderers earned him a loan move to North London at the end of the 2020/21 season where he made 11 appearances and impressed Bees fans with his commitment and tenacity.

The left-back made the switch to the Hive on a permanent basis in the summer of 2021 and established himself as a key player for Dean Brennan’s side when he was fit. Beard’s impressive form throughout the 2021/22 season, in which he made 25 appearances and scored one goal, saw the defender earn a call-up to Paul Fairclough’s England C squad for their annual match against Wales C.

Last season Beard made 42 appearances for the Bees and was a key component of the side that made it to the National League play-offs and the semi-final of the FA Trophy. Due to a drop in performance levels and struggles with injury, Brennan opted to sign experienced left-back Ben Coker last summer.

This, combined with the excellent performances of Idris Kanu as a left-wing-back, has led to the defender falling well down the pecking order, hence his loan move to Eastbourne Borough earlier in the season where he made seven appearances. There was a brief spell after the end of his loan at the Sports where Beard featured in the first-team, most notably the game against his former side Dorking where he picked up the Player Of The Match award in front of the TNT Sports cameras.

Beard departs the club having made 81 appearances and scored one goal.

Writer’s View

Beard was a player who split the Barnet fanbase. Some saw a noticeable drop in performance levels between 21/22 and 22/23 and were not keen on him being the starting left-back heading into this season. Others saw the potential that he showed and believed that Dean Brennan should give him another run in the side this season to see if he can get back to his best.

Whilst the second view is more agreeable, Beard was not afforded many opportunities by the manager this season and a move away was always on the cards. What is perhaps more surprising is that he has felt it necessary to drop down a division to get regular game time, as he certainly has the ability to be a National League player.

Perhaps Beard values the comfort and reliability that come from playing under his father at this stage of his career, but he should certainly be looking to get back into the fifth tier and beyond in the coming years. Whether that is as part of the ambitious project being built at Eastbourne or elsewhere.

As for Barnet, the move is the first part of a mini-clear-out that Brennan will be undertaking in order to trim a fairly bloated squad, especially in defence. The aforementioned clear-out should allow the Irishman to be able to bring one or two new faces in so that the Bees can address some of the structural problems they have encountered with their system in recent weeks.

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