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EAST-STANDERS: We have great difficulty when it comes to putting the ball in the net at one end and keeping it out at the other!

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 relegation-haunted Barnsley lose their vital match with the Blues of Birmingham……

It was so frustrating watching the Reds against Birmingham City at Oakwell. We played the best football since we don’t know when – oh, yes, we do, it was that 5-0 thrashing of Birmingham at St Andrew’s way back in September! – and yet we were beaten by a very poor City side.

The thing is, you see, if you hadn’t noticed, football is all about scoring more goals than the other team. And as we have great difficulty when it comes to both putting the ball in the net at one end and keeping it out at the other, then there’s not much hope for us, is there?

Now, if the result were to be based on artistic merit we might stand a chance. We really passed the ball around very well in between the two penalty areas – and in a positive way as well – and we were streets ahead of Birmingham, who had obviously come to pack their defence and try to hit us on the counter.

Win or lose, the starting line-up would appear to represent pretty much our best team – with the exception of Davies, who was substitute on this occasion after coming back from injury. With the hard grafters, such as Perkins, Dawson, O’Brien and Dagnall all included, we looked much more like a team and played some really good football.

Sadly, however, the end product was still lacking, and when we did create chances we couldn’t make the most of them. I mean, just what can you say about Davies’s penalty miss. It’s a good job there’s a roof to the Ponty End stand otherwise the ball would have damaged some of the cars in the car park. It was surely a huge mistake to allow a player who had only just stepped on to the field to take a spot-kick, but having said that there was a big debate in our neck of the Oakwell woods as to who might have taken it instead…

We were all critical of Steele for City’s opening goal, and harked back to the Sheffield Wednesday game when he dropped the ball when trying to catch it instead of just making sure and punching it clear. This time he made no attempt to go for the ball and it was the same story when the visitors scored their winner. Just about the only time he left his line was when he came racing out of the area to take a free-kick late on. There is no doubt that he is a great shot-stopper – but he’s a bit of a vampire when it comes to crosses.

Mind you, he’s not helped by his defenders, either. They really do get in a complete tizzy when trying to deal with set-pieces.

Greening had a a good game in midfield and took his goal well, but Perkins was the human dynamo who hustled and harried the Birmingham players into repeated mistakes, one minute tracking back to break up an opposition attack, the next sparking off a move by the Reds, and then appearing on the edge of the opposition penalty area.

He doesn’t really make a tackle as such, but he has this wonderful knack of ‘stealing’ the ball away from the opposition. We were totally mystified – not to say upset – when he was substituted. It says it all when the sponsors still nominated him as their man-of-the-match.

We have to say that O’Brien was superb with all the work he did, and if Tudgay goes back after his loan period he’ll be a big loss.

Bobby Hassell was competent without being outstanding, which begs the question why he has been overlooked for so long after his suspension, especially as he had been playing so well before then, especially as Jimmy McCluless, as my mate calls him, still struggles to justify his place in the side.

A big hand, by the way, to those who put on the lively pre-match entertainment in front of the East Stand, with Shrek, Grandma and the Wolf, and Cinderella in evidence, along with several other characters, including a Good Fairy, although sadly, not even her magic could save us. Then, at half-time we were treated to a young Barnsley fan from Cudworth showing how to hit the target with a 40-30 shoot-out victory over his Birmingham counterpart – from Cudworth! Sign him up!

But in the end it was still a mystery how we came to lose a game that we should have comfortably won.

It was also a mystery, with half of Britain under water in this wettest year on record, and with more rain forecast – it teemed it down for most of the match – as to why the sprinklers were turned on prior to the kick-off!

Oh, well, Happy New Year everybody!

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