Stone praying for Football League survival

No surrender: Michael Stone will tell his troops to play the match of their lives when they take on Aldershot in a must-win match at Underhill

No surrender: Michael Stone will tell his troops to play the match of their lives when they take on Aldershot in a must-win match at Underhill

Struggling Barnet go in to their final match of the season knowing only a miracle can save them from the horror of relegation to the Conference league.

Even if they beat Port Vale on Saturday, their League 2 survival depends on others losing.

But Bees coach Michael Stone is not letting that get to his players.

"It's a big one," he said. "It's not in our hands but what is in our hands is to win the game.

"We've put together a good run recently and I know an early goal would be a great lift to our crowd."

"This has been one of my most challenging seasons. You learn more about yourself during a season like this."

Brought in from Rushden & Diamonds last summer, Stone is also in charge of player development but he said this aspect of his job has been "difficult with the club under pressure for the majority of the season" and with the club changing manager five times.

Having started the season working alongside Mark Stimson in the dugout, he worked with Martin Allen before he left for Notts County. Director of Football Paul Fairclough took charge during the run-in and Stone will finish the season as working with caretaker-boss Giuliano Grazioli and Laurie Sanchez.

Stone said: "Come Saturday, I'll be doing everything I can to ensure we win the game.

"My job is to take the pressure off. Players won't perform anywhere near to the level they can unless they relax and have the freedom to play."

Going into tomorrow's home clash, Barnet lie two points behind Lincoln City, with a better goal difference. City face Aldershot at home.

Stone said: "A few weeks ago, people thought we were down. But Lincoln go into their game on the back of a dreadful run.

"I know Aldershot manager Dean Holdsworth very well and he'll want to finish the season on a high.

"They also have former Barnet defender Anthony Charles in the team and he'll be looking to do his old mates a favour."

One player who has no such problems is Joe Jacobson. He has helped Accrington Stanley reach the playoffs in the same division.

    Last updated: 1:32pm, May 5 2011