Two home games, six points. A hundred per cent record – and we haven’t conceded a goal. What more could you ask? Well, winning one of those games when playing with only 10 men for half-an-hour, for a start.
So who cares what happens away from Oakwell? We can afford to slip up in three home fixtures and still get 60 points. That’s more than enough to keep us in the Championship.
And we’ve played some good possession football in those games here against Middlesbrough and Bristol City. It’s not been kick and rush. So, on the basis of what we’ve seen we have to be happy with the way things are going. It was great to enjoy such a great atmosphere for the Bristol game as well. It was simply tremendous in that last 30 minutes and the ground erupted at the final whistle after we’d held out in the face of a bit of a pummelling. In fact, there was a standing ovation for the terrific ten who’d defied everything that the visitors could throw at them..
It was great to hear the Ponty Enders teasing City with the chant of ‘We’ve only got ten men’.
We might get criticised sometimes for not giving enough vocal support, but there could be no complaints on this occasion. And, let’s face it, Barnsley fans are noted for their sarcasm as much as anything. We’d be top of the table for sarcasm, we would.
Referees bear the brunt of it as well. Steve Rushton was the victim on Saturday. You know what we only get, don’t you ? Exactly! And there was one period when poor old Steve couldn’t make a right decision to save his life. It reached a climax when he gave a goal-kick when it should have been a corner and then immediately afterwards gave a corner when it should have been a goal-kick. So when he did get one right he was given the biggest cheer of the entire first half.
Anyway, all’s well that ends well. Although we have to say that for the first ten minutes we thought it was going to be embarrassing. We were all over the shop. And we kept giving the ball away.
After that, though we settled into our passing game and the East-Standers can’t remember our ‘keeper having a save to make until Bobby Hassell was rightly sent off for a two-footed tackle. The red mist must have descended. Pity that, because until then he’d had a great game.
When he’d gone we all thought we were just staving off the inevitable, but didn’t the lads do well?
Okay, we had some luck, but they say you make your own luck and we deserved it. In any case, it might have been lucky for us when that shot rattled the bar, but every other time it was more like good defending, with players throwing their bodies in the way to block shots and young John Stones making a remarkable save on the line – even if the ball might have struck his arm. That wasn’t luck, that was good, quick-thinking defending.
There were some ifs and buts and maybes, but while we could have drawn one apiece we could also have won 3-1, or even 3-0, because marvellous Marlon had a couple of chances late on. To be honest, none of us could understand why he had been sent on for Craig Davies, who had been doing such a good job, but in the last few minutes the guys behind us were yelling, ‘Come on, Marlon, it doesn’t matter how slow you are, just keep hold of that ball.’ And, to be fair to him, he did.
Mind you, after Hassell’s dismissal all the players did wonderfully well to compensate for being a man short, especially Martin Crainie and Chris Dagnall.
Stones again showed his potential when he came on as sub, and if he and Davies continue as they are doing the only downside is that other clubs will surely soon be sniffing round.
At the usual half-time comfort area some of the lads were talking about the £100,000 that the club is reported to be about to spend on a new scoreboard. They came to the conclusion it was a waste of money. One of them said,’ Just think, we could buy three players for that.’ And his mate added, ‘Better still, they could by three players at £30,000 apiece and buy a carpet, some card tables and chairs in here for us with the rest of it. They should think about us fans, tha knaws.’
Somebody else pointed out that the club was thinking of showing matches on the big screen to get fans in earlier. But that still didn’t go down too well with another bloke, who retorted, ‘If they think that they’ve another think coming. Am not going to leave pub and watch an early kick-off match at Oakwell when I can stop there supping my pint in warmth and comfort and do exactly the same.’
But they were all full of praise for the club and the team at the end of a really good game. There’s something in adversity that brings us fans and the players together. It was the old battling Barnsley spirit; backs-to-the-wall; heroes all. Terrific.