September 2012
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It seems that every time Paul Jewell pitches up to Oakwell, he does so fearing that he could be unemployed by the time he leaves. After a thrilling performance at Birmingham, the Reds were keen to ensure that it wasn’t a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’, and grab the points against an Ipswich side without a win in 5.

Keith Hill appeared to abide by the philosophy of never changing a winning side, with minor tweaks into the personnel filling the bench. Ipswich welcomed debutant Danny Higginbotham, who arrived on loan from Stoke earlier this week - filling the centre half berth.

The away side were keen to stop the Reds from playing their football, and looked to hit the long balls into Jason Scotland early. Despite keeping a clean sheet last week, the Reds found themselves behind within 5 minutes when a free kick was awarded for an alleged fowl from Stephen Dawson. 3 stood over the ball, with some clever working on the free kick; though in reality Ben Alnwick would have been disappointed to see the ball slip through his fingers in the manner that it did.

Whilst most social commentators on happenings at Oakwell have observed, media coverage on Barnsley FC is generally limited, to being non-existent in most cases. Then we suddenly hit the national radar on three fronts!
  1. Talk of a takeover begins to circulate in the press on Sunday leading to a statement from Don Rowing on local radio.
  2. SkySports claim that Keith Hill is in talks with Patrick Cryne over his future.
  3. Whilst they also claim that Flitcroft will definitely NOT be the new boss at Bury.
Am I being too cynical to wonder who these stories and PR leaks actually serve? I'm sure that most can be easily explained away, but my guess is that there will be continued speculation on a number of fronts this week.

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Synergy - when the end product is greater than the sum of its’ parts, where 2+2=5

Fans listening to Keith Hill’s Radio Sheffield interview following the Blackburn defeat (listen again here) will have heard a well publicised rant regarding the parachute payments, but more importantly, a quote from Keith Hill that really stuck in my mind - “Look where we are, we’re little old Barnsley” with reference to the fact that John Stones had been taken off injured following what should have been a red card challenge from Dickson Etuhu, when Bobby Hassell had been given a 3 game suspension for much less, amongst the other circumstances which stack against us every time we grace the pitch.

Barnsley fans know the score, the stadium isn’t even half full, the pundits continually expect us to finish bottom, and we can’t afford the same quality of players that the likes of Blackburn (parachute payments in tow) can afford. This is why the Reds must achieve a result greater than the sum of the components, as our individual ‘components’ will not be able to match those of other clubs. So what is Keith Hill’s formula for synergy?

Playing style

It is well known that Keith Hill demands four things from every player that puts on a Barnsley shirt: Hard Work, Endeavour, Brainpower and Creativity - whilst wanting to play a ‘style of football that will bare dividends both on and off the pitch’. Keith Hill’s men played in what is becoming a familiar 4-1-3-2 narrow formation, where Martin Cranie stands guard ahead of the back four, allowing the likes of Jacob Mellis and Tomasz Cywka to do the type of damage they are capable of, whilst maintaining a fluid passing style of football, and a hard working pressing game without the ball.

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Has there ever been an uglier goalscorer against us than Blackburn’s Tuesday night hero, Nuno Gomes? After a battling performance where Barnsley proved a match for one of the Championship’s title chasers, the Portuguese pensioner popped up to net a winner just five minutes from time.

It may sound bitter to condemn this former international great of being nothing more than an ugly face, but that is what many Tykes will have been thinking, as Gomes ran away in celebration at Ewood Park.

The bitterness comes not in the 2-1 loss or the late timing of Gomes’ winner, but the fact that we played so well for much of the game. This was our fifth successive away defeat, yet the game played out as though we were top of the table, not Blackburn.

Rovers, a long-lost fixture of the Champions League betting, have a midfield that played full Premier League campaigns last season, yet we dominated the centre of the pitch.

Manager, Keith Hill, bemoaned our budget after the defeat and it is clear we were never meant to challenge mega-rich Rovers on Tuesday. Hill should be proud the lads dominated for long periods and only fell short when Blackburn brought on three fresh signings that we could never attract.

Our finishing was off all game, yet former Chelsea and Southampton man, Jacob Mellis, nicked his second of the season in clinical fashion, and we looked comfortable heading into the break before £8m new signing, Jordan Rhodes, levelled for the home side.

There is no way Barnsley could spend £8m on one player, nor could we afford the wages former internationals like Gomes no doubt demand. Instead, Hill is left to eke out a squad capable of sustaining itself in a cutthroat league and was desperately close to a major scalp on Tuesday.

There are reasons to be confident this season for Tykes fans, and although watching Gomes’ face crack with delight was a bitter pill to swallow, we can take solace in our ability to hold our own against one of the Championship’s strongest sides.
Well done Barnsley, a great point earned against Ollie's Tangerines.

For those of you who have read my posts over some time, you'll appreciate that I'm not one to sit down and write about a match from start to finish, unless it includes a Greggs carrier bag. And fortunately, against Blackpool, there was very little time to care about that sort of plastic happening.

With injuries galore, many of us must have been worried about how our Reds could possibly fare in this climate, but even the most cynical of fans must now be appreciating that there is a strong team ethic in force at Barnsley FC, and "HillCroft" are winning!

Staying true to form, I won't give you a blow-by-blow account of the 90 minutes, I can leave that to other reports, but I would like to spark some debate on a few points.
  1. IMHO Tom Ince was "flukey". Once the ball went through, he managed to get the momentum needed to run on goal through a very fortunate touch. Great finish, but jammy!!
  2. Fozzy was not my Man Of The Match. Although, he was also far from having the shocker that one pillock (near me) claims he always has. John Stones deserved the accolade!
  3. Do you have to suffer a bloke at Oakwell who constantly nudges you, expelling completely irrelevant trash throughout the game? Who, whilst completely disagreeing with you entirely - all of the time, then repeats your statements as their own, about 15 minutes later?
  4. John Stones will not be sold for a fortune in January. Why would he leave?
  5. Some of our injured numbers will struggle to walk-back-in to the first eleven.
Please comment below or give me a shout on Twitter @OnThePontyEnd
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Readers following my Twitter will be no strangers to the occasional rant about the club’s marketing machine, pricing our fans out of the market place and a lack of creativity from the club. In and amongst the financial doom and gloom, the club has failed to adapt to the marketplace, and saw one of its lowest attendances in years on Saturday for the win against Bristol City – with just 8088 fans coming through the gates, 900 down on last year’s lowest attendance – also against Bristol.

However our next game presents a fantastic opportunity for both the club and the fans to create a day to remember in order to celebrate our 125th anniversary. For just £12.50 for adults, fans can watch our Championship clash against Blackpool (who also turn 125 this year), with entertainment planned both outside and inside the stadium, and prizes for fancy dress (if that’s your thing). What’s more, families of 4 (2 adults, and 2 children 5-11) can watch the game for £30 – a great value day out.

Other than the obvious benefits of a cheap entry fee and a bit of entertainment; to me this gives the fans an excellent chance to prove a point. By telling your family and your friends and packing out the stadium, you can prove to the club that cheaper entry does work and that our supporters do want to watch this football club succeed.