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EAST-STANDERS: A frustrating old night down Oakwell way…..

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. Here is the latest instalment – as Keith Hill’s men tackled the high-flying, yet managerless Eagles of Crystal Palace…..

It was so frustrating at Oakwell on Tuesday night. It was a bit like watching someone learning to do something. You can see what they are capable of; you can see the potential; but somehow they haven’t quite got the hang of it yet.

It was obvious what Palace had set out to do and they did it very well. Attack from the start, try to snatch an early goal, then pack the defence – and it worked a treat for them. Mind you, we gave them a big helping hand by playing ourselves into trouble and doing the wrong thing far too often. The number of times we made suicidal passes across the front of our own defence was unbelievable.

However, it was poor old Marlon who got most stick from the regulars around us. ‘He’s got the touch of a camel’, was one comment, while someone else yelled, ‘Be careful you don’t break into a trot, Marlon,’ Maybe it’s because he’s been in and out of the side and is not up to the pace of it yet, but he was so slow at times that the photographers had time to sketch a picture of him rather than take a photo.

One little lad became so convinced that we were never going to score that he became more interested in watching drops of water drip from the roof than what was happening on the pitch.

We were also asked if there was any truth in the rumour that if the ball leaves the grass the players are fined. We could see their point. It’s all very well playing pretty-pretty possession football on the deck but sometimes it is necessary to play more direct; hoist the ball into the box and put the opposition under pressure that way. On this occasion we were much too slow in our build-up and totally lacked penetration.

David Perkins injected pace whenever he got the ball but as soon as he passed it to someone else it slowed again. There is no doubt that the smallest player on the pitch deserved his man of the match award, and that would still have been the case even if he had not come up with a brilliant equaliser.

It’s a good job it came so late on, though, because had Palace been given more time we are convinced they would have come back at us and snatched the winner. They looked so good in that first quarter-of-an-hour when we were extremely lucky not to be two or more goals down instead of just one.

In the end we very happy enough to come out of it with a point, but it was pretty lacklustre, and the game emphasised the fact that we badly need another striker. Without the injured Davies we had absolutely nothing to show up front.

A final point which was a topic of conversation in our neck of the woods. The substitutions were obviously tactical, so does that mean the manager didn’t get his original line-up right? If so, why?

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