We Barnsley supporters may not be the most vociferous in the Football League, but we can do sarcasm to perfection – as the referee discovered with the ironic cheering when, after some very strange awards, he finally gave a decision our way in last night’s game against Brighton.
He was certainly inconsistent, and the ratio of Barnsley/Brighton bookings was rather unbalanced.
On arrival at the ground, we found the atmosphere very subdued (as well as very cold) but perhaps this was a reaction to the disappointment of Saturday and fans around us were also a little concerned about the five changes to the team.
The Reds, however, started quite brightly, although they could have conceded the usual early goal when they headed the ball straight to a Brighton player and then got caught flat-footed against a quick ball.
It seemed to us that our team lacked basic speed in midfield and up front, and this gave Brighton the time to employ the tactic of playing across the back and then breaking out of defence.
Scotland showed good close control and technique when the ball came to him, while O’Grady was more like a battering ram, although he did well against more cultured Championship defenders.
When we scored we looked good value against a team pushing for the top six.
As to be expected, Brighton went all out for the equaliser as the second half got underway and we made too many basic mistakes, giving the ball away or losing it far too easily.
Everyone feared that we would not be able to withstand the pressure, although when the Brighton goal came, it did look offside from the East Stand perspective.
At that stage, it looked as though Brighton would be the team to go on to win, but the penalty award lifted our lads and the supporters, the latter being depressed after learning at half time that Peterborough were in the lead at Leeds.
Steele kept us in front, with some good, decisive saves and, of course, that superb penalty stop.
Perkins had to soak up a lot of “attention” from opposition players but on the whole he coped well and worked very hard, as usual. Cranie had a good game, as did Dagnall when he came on and took a composed penalty, but O’Brien had a poor game, his obvious frustration culminating in that unnecessary outburst against the referee, which saw him booked.
It was a far from pretty game, but it brought us three invaluable points in the fight to avoid relegation, taking us out of the bottom three. All in all, a good night’s work.
Incidentally, we had a great time at the match at the weekend. The stadium was impressive and all the stewards we spoke to were friendly and helpful. We arrived very early and they allowed us to wander freely around the arena to soak it all in – and one particularly helpful steward even volunteered to take our photograph so that we could be on the shot together.
The atmosphere was fantastic, the roar of the crowd was amazing and there was a great camaraderie between the rival fans. It was a pity that the team’s performance could not have been a little better than it was on the day, but we did at least get the win.
The win? Oh, sorry, didn’t I say – we were not at the Etihad but at Twickenham for the England v Italy match! (The tickets were bought long before the cup run).