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 Bluebirds of Cardiff…..
‘Oh no, it isn’t.’
‘Oh, yes it is.’
‘Oh. no, it isn’t.’
‘Oh, yes it is.’
Yes folks, the pantomime season is upon us. It opened up at Oakwell with a big debate among the East-Standers as to whether it had started raining or it was just fog which was swirling around. Well, what else is there to do on a murky Saturday afternoon when the football is as flat as the proverbial pancake?
At half-time the wife turned to me and said, ‘Intit boring?’ And, I had to agree with her. Not only that, we were a goal down and even the lads in the toilet at half-time seemed resigned to the fact that we were going to loos – sorry, lose.
It didn’t get much better after half-time and yet again we were far too negative. There was one occasion when we made five passes backwards and sideways in front of our own penalty box, under very little, if any, pressure, and eventually managed to move forward a massive 10 yards. And we’re 1-0 down!
Supporters need to be lifted and encouraged, but there was no urgency, no cohesion, no flow until the last 15 minutes or so when we pulled a goal back and finally started to make a game of it.
That might have been as a result of Plan B, which nearly worked. We were certainly better when substitutes Noble-Lazarus and Buzsaky went on, which begs the question, why weren’t they out there from the start? Both of them injected some life into our play and gave us a bit of hope. Cardiff might be second-from-top, but they had won only twice away and they hadn’t look much, even against such a shocking defence as ours, so maybe, just maybe, we thought we might snatch a point.
We could have done as well. We felt we should have had a penalty in stoppage time when Golbourne was sent sprawling in the box, but the referee didn’t want to know. He must have had better days. We’ve never seen a referee so lax about time-wasting. Cardiff were at it as soon as they had taken a first-half lead!
We’ve mentioned the poor defending – two goals conceded from dead-ball situations, the visitors winning every header, players being caught out of position, giving the ball away – so what’s happened to Foster? Why was he warming the bench? Is he out of favour? We were so bad here that ‘Hillcroft’ actually switched Wiseman and Crainie before half-time, while McNulty wasn’t at the races.
Once again it was a good job we had Steele, who made two absolutely fabulous saves. But for him it could have been all over long before we sneaked our consolation goal. There was a noticeable lack of applause when Greening was announced as the sponsor’s man of the match and that was simply because we all thought it should have been our goalkeeper.
It’s early days with the loan players and it looks as though, given time, Greening, Tudgay, Buszaky and Sinclair, might make a difference. But time is something we haven’t got. In the last couple of seasons we’ve looked back and reflected what a good job it was that we got all those points before Christmas, otherwise we’d have been relegated. This season we haven’t got ‘all those points’ and don’t look like doing so. We’re in big, big trouble already and we’re still in November.
What’s more, we could end up losing Davies in the January transfer window. He still looks to us as though he could be a top player with better support, and our fear is that some bigger club will steal him away from us.
The only consolation at the moment is that Sheffield Wednesday are struggling just as much as we are, so that televised game at Oakwell on December 15 has already been ear-marked as a six-pointer in a relegation derby dog-fight.
Ever the pessimists…