September 2011
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Last night saw the Reds travel to high flying Derby County in order to try and retain their unbeaten away status. The Rams - who infamously bought former Reds skipper Jason Shackell in the summer, could have gone top of the championship last night had they beaten the Reds, after an impressive start to the season, which prior to last night saw them take 18 points from 8 games.

The Rams named a line up which included several names infamous to Barnsley fans, including former Sheffield United forward Jamie Ward, Huddersfield striker Theo Robinson, and of course former Reds captain Jason Shackell - who last night celebrated his 28th birthday.

It doesn't take a footballing expert to see that Birmingham have struggled to settle in to the Championship this season following their relegation from the Premier League. The Carling cup winners prior to yesterday had picked up just two wins all campaign, both at home, whilst losing their last 3 games and picking up only a point away from home.

The Reds however have arguably had a brighter spell lately, after failing to yet pick up a win at their usual fortress Oakwell, the Reds have turned to their impressive away form this season, where they are yet to be beaten. The Reds came into the game on a run of 4 unbeaten games, perhaps feeling a little frustrated to have only picked up 2 points out of 6 at home, which were more than deserved but for slight lapses of concentration.

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Barnsley might still have won just once so far this season, but Keith Hill is happy with how things are progressing and says there is "light at the end of the tunnel".

The Tykes have now gone four games unbeaten and, having lost their first three matches, there has been a big improvement in a short space of time.

Last weekend's 1-1 home draw with Watford was another step in the right direction and that result has lifted Barnsley up to 17th in the Championship, and it could have been even better, as those looking at will know.

Tykes fans will feel they could have got maximum points from both last Saturday's clash with the Hornets and the previous home game against Leicester, which also finished 1-1.

Hill though is happy enough and, having made big changes to personnel in the summer, believes he is now stamping his "own identity" on the squad.

The manager said: "I can see the progress we're making, not just on the training pitch but in matches. It's encouraging and I'm enthusiastic about the future and where we can go."

So where can Barnsley go? Well the play-offs look a bridge to far for a first term in charge at this level for the manager and a lack of experience in the squad. Those following the Lee Dixon tips should bear this in mind.

But the board will be pleased with a mid-table finish and if the Tykes are safe from the drop with a couple of weeks to spare, then that will surely be job done and a platform to build on.

Barnsley will be further tested in the next week, as they face two tough looking away trips to the Midlands. It's Birmingham up first on Saturday, before a clash with Derby at Pride Park next midweek.
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With most people already condemning Barnsley to the drop after three games, the Tykes have responded well and the board must now stick by their new boss.

Keith Hill was a surprise appointment at Oakwell, following the departure of Mark Robins this summer, having spent his managerial career solely in the bottom two divisions.

But the 42-year-old impressed many during his time at Rochdale, getting the Lancashire club out of the bottom tier of English football for the first time in their history.

Some fans would have been forgiven for fearing the worst though at the start of Barnsley’s 2011-12 campaign, especially with some of the Tykes summer transfer dealings.

Having lost star man Adam Hammill in January, Barnsley brought in several players from the lower leagues as Hill gambled on their ability to play at a higher level. Those placing football bets may have been worried by this.

Striker Craig Davies was signed from Chesterfield, midfielder David Perkins from Colchester and defender Scott Wiseman from Rochdale were among the new recruits.

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Last night fans from around the country descended on Oakwell for it’s first Under 21 international in 10 years. A decade ago fans were treated to appearances by up-and-coming stars such as current England captain John Terry, National Team regular Gareth Barry, as well as current and former premiership regulars such as Nicky Weaver, Shola Ameobi, Ledley King, Luke Young, Jonathan Greening and Darius Vassell – all of whom now in their 30’s. Of course none of these household names were eligible to play last night, however it does beg the question as to whether we’ll be looking back in another 10 years and reminiscing upon the success of the likes of Ben Amos, Andre Wisdom and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal respectively.

The unique nature of networks such as Facebook and Twittter seem to provide partnerships that ordinarily would seem like rivalries. Therefore, this instance provides one example of that.

Recently, OnThePontyEnd was contacted by Dan Williams, the chief at the excellent Sunderland Blog, "The Roker Report". We were simply asked, "We have an interview piece you can have from [the legend that is] Higgy, do you want it?

We replied "What do you want from us"

They said "Now't" or words to that effect, we said YES PLEASE and here it is ...

You can follow Dan on Twitter @daninfrance