Forget Albert Square, Oakwell is the only place to be for our exclusive take on Barnsley FC, from the fans who take their seat in the stands to cheer on the super Reds.
We looked at each other when we saw who the referee was against Ipswich and wondered even then whether or not we ought to go straight home.
We’ve always ended up with steam coming out of our ears when Trevor Kettle has been in charge of our games and and this proved to be no exception. By the final whistle we had just about reached boiling point!
We don’t know how it was viewed by the Ponty Enders or those in the West Stand, but to us East-Standers Fozzie’s goal should never have been disallowed; it was never a free-kick which led to the visitors’ early strike; and we should have had three handball penalties.
However, one of our mates did point out, to be fair to Mr Kettle, that he did give a hand ball in our favour on the halfway line.
Anyway the Ponty Enders pointedly let everybody know what we only get as far as referees are concerned.
As for our lads’ performance it was really disappointing in the first half. We were caught out by the early goal, Ipswich decided to sit back on that lead, and we clearly had problems breaking them down. It was all so slow and pedestrian and there was a surprising lack of atmosphere.
It was a very poor crowd when you consider the rave notices the team had received – quite rightly – for their stunning 5-0 win at Birmingham.
So at half-time we were left reflecting that the best bit of entertainment we’d seen was a chap struggling to park his car behind the East Stand. Obviously he had got himself into a bit of trouble parking before because he found himself a space with no cars anywhere near him. He reversed into one of the marked bays and finished up at 45 degrees. He got out of the car, had a look, got back in, reversed a couple of yards, then edged forward again – finishing in exactly the same position. He did this three or four times before eventually leaving it with the front wheels in one bay, the middle of the car in another, and the rear end in a third!
The half-time toilet talk was all about the referee as you can imagine, while at the same time, having watched our lads struggle to break Ipswich down, we were not too optimistic about the second half.
The introduction of young Stones proved the turning point. It’s no reflection of Kennedy, but he was a left-footed player filling a hole at right back and it didn’t work. If Stones was fit we really couldn’t understand why he wasn’t in the side from the start, although we do understand that it would have been hard for the manager to make any change from the side which was so magnificent at Birmingham.
Anyway, once the young lad was brought on there was far more thrust down the right hand side. This boy is full of confidence, he has a football brain, he’s quick, and here he played more like a rampaging winger than a full-back, which is what we needed to complement the good work of Golbourne on the other side.
The only problem is, of course, if Stones continues to play like this it will be very difficult to keep him. He must be attracting the attention of some of the big clubs already.
We were much better in the second half. Mellis played really well, as did Dawson, who also took his goal in fine style and was unlucky not to get a second with his left foot – the one he normally uses only to stand on. It was also good to see Dagnall getting a good reception when he was substituted. He again put in some really hard graft and was also unlucky with an effort that hit the post.
When you think about it, the Hillcroft team is proving exceptional at getting the best out of players who have spent their careers in the lower divisions or who have been cast on the scrap heap at some stage.
Think back to last season how Jacob Butterfield matured into a really inspirational player after Keith Hill made him captain. He had been in danger of going off the rails before that. Vaz Te. Look how Hill and Flicker rescued him and turned him into a Premiership performer. Then there’s Jim O’Brien, sadly still injured, the three Ds – Davies, Dagnall and Dawson –the list is almost endless – not to mention exciting youngsters coming through such as Stones and Danny Rose, who also showed touches of his potential in the Ipswich game.
Tell you what, if talk of a foreign take-over does materialise, Hillcroft must stay. It would be absolute folly to kick them out.
So, taking everything into consideration, after the initial disappointment, the Ipswich game proved quite enjoyable in the end.
But when we got home and the wife said ‘Shall I put the kettle on?’ I nearly blew my top…