Never mind the clocks; calendars were put back in Chesterfield for Barnet's visit to the Proact Stadium. It is six seasons since Edgar Davids played for Tottenham. Now 39, living a mile from Barnet and taken on by the club as joint-head-coach-cum-captain a fortnight before, he was playing his third match in nine days. The Bees had not won in 12 games this season and had reclaimed the basement of League Two as their own. Now, with a second win in an unbeaten run, they are in danger of finding the escape staircase before May.
The match was a microcosm of their normal season – backs to the wall and a late leap to safety. The match was in its 90th goalless minute when Andy Yiadom tricked two defenders on the left. Before he could misplace his pass – a consistent Barnet failing in attack – he was brought down and Mark Byrne put the penalty past Richard O'Donnell. It was the goalkeeper's first call to serious action.
By contrast Graham Stack had a golden spell in the 10 minutes before half-time when Chesterfield tried screwdriver rather than hammer and had Barnet squealing. Three times he tipped away shots and then saw Barnet to the interval with a block of Jack Lester's header and a sharp drop as the striker came for the rebound. Stack started at Arsenal. Bob Wilson, his coach there and born in Chesterfield, would have loved the dive at the feet.
Mark Robson said of Barnet: "We rode our luck and dropped off a bit after half-time but the long balls didn't hurt us [Dave Stephens was a tower of headed clearances] and we helped each other well." Of Davids' arrival he said: "He has such knowledge and understanding and, being on the field, can organise our shape. Everyone is learning from him." There were Cruyff turns all over the pitch.
Davids has lasted the full 90 minutes in all three games, in which Barnet have yet to concede. Protective specs glinting in the Derbyshire sun, he played further forward than in his "Pitbull" age, mostly off the striker, Jake Hyde, in a 4‑4‑1‑1 system, quick as ever to spot the right pass but also to track back in need. Booked for a second-half challenge, he gave the referee a look that said: "If that's a yellow card, I'm a Dutchman." Maybe the official, Andy Davies, wanted his autograph.
Davids had expected to be facing Luis Boa Morte in a battle of would-be talismans and rematch of old London derbies, when the Portuguese was at Fulham, but the 35-year-old groin was strained at training on Friday. Old playmakers never lose it; they just have to find their level as the game gets ever faster. Davids tried and failed at Crystal Palace two years ago. Boa Morte, who joined Chesterfield this month, googled them before agreeing.
It could be tougher under Paul Cook, who took Accrington from eighth to 14th last season and was appointed on Thursday in place of John Sheridan, who left on gardening leave. Cook was said to be taking charge on Monday but, having come out to be introduced, he stayed there. "We went out with a whimper in the second half," he said. "Performances like that won't be accepted." In this old mining area the players will surely soon be asked to dig deeper. "We've got to try to put teams to the sword," Cook added. Barnet have two of them on their crest.
Proact, by the way, are "integrators and cloud enablers". There is room for integration but the clouds need dispersing.