PREVIEW: Barnsley v City

And now to Barnsley. City take the Championship’s best form and a vast back catalogue of away successes to Oakwell this evening looking to make it ten games without defeat, consolidate a play-off place and maybe even give the top two a little nudge. After a rocky start to the season, few would have thought this possible a few days after the clocks went back.

Possible it is, though. Nottingham Forest could still be playing now without scoring, and the Tigers’ parsimonious defence is the rock upon which this embryonic promotion challenge is being founded. With the same back four and keeper set to start in South Yorkshire tonight, Barnsley’s attackers had better be blessed with patience and a dash of good fortune. They’ve had a lousy season thus far, with a 2-1 home defeat at the weekend to bottom club Bristol C rather typifying their campaign to date. That saw struggling manager Keith Hill have a whinge about their support, which having dropped into four figures (8,900 on Saturday) is both dwindling and restive. A current position of 19th in the table and a gap of just three points from the relegation places may not be a maor surprise, but neither is it proving particularly enjoyable.

They’re having little fortune with injuries, it must be conceded. Matt Done and Dave Perkins returned from recent spells on the sidelines on Saturday and reportedly emerged unscathed, but a quartet are missing against the Tigers: Messrs Hassell, Haynes, Lovre and the excellently-named Noble-Lazarus will be confined to spectating duties. For the Tigers, little has changed. Long-term absentees Stewart and Garcia are inching slowly back into the contention but are nowhere near a start, while Barmby, Waghorn and Pusic won’t be risked. The same XI that won at the City Ground may very well be summoned again.

City are only marginal favourites for this one, with 13/8 the best price you’ll get as opposed to Barnsley’s 2/1. Of course, fresh from yet another away triumph, expectations are high – yet City have already drawn at both of the bottom two, proving that this division offers no foregone conclusions. Pleasingly so, too. Saturday’s fine victory means that the pressure on the Tigers to take all three points is reduced a little, and Nigel Pearson isn’t a manager we suspect will permit complacency to creep in. However, it’s a Yorkshire derby in a notoriously unpredictable league – all three results are possible.

Recent history is patchy: since renewing hostilities in 2004 after a thirteen year gap, City have won two of four at Oakwell – a stirring Elliott & Keane-inspired 2-1 win in 2004/5 and a 3-1 cuffing in 2008 that briefly threatened to send us to the Premier League automatically – those sandwiched a rancid 3-0 defeat, and last season’s tepid televised 1-1 draw was not really one for the purists. With 37 wins apiece in 96 meetings going way back to 1905, when Barnsley were the opposition in City’s first ever League fixture, there’s rarely been much between the sides.

Perhaps a word on another aspect of tomorrow’s game: the price. Barnsley are charging a disgraceful £30 for City fans to enter. This is naturally a ludicrous sum for one of the lesser lights in English football’s second tier to demand. Many cannot afford it; others still are boycotting because of this appalling cost. While anyone swerving this one because of Barnsley’s loathsome, larcenous conduct for reasons of cost or principle is perfectly justified in doing so, it’s still hard to recommend depriving this fine young City team of support. A suggestion, then? If you can stomach paying £30 for it, deny them of a single penny in food and drink. It’s the very least the grasping swine deserve.

2 replies
  1. Whitey
    Whitey says:

    Lesser lights of the 2nd tier?? Jeez.
    We are the longest serving 2nd tier club. More goals, points and wins than any other. So I would suggest we are hardly the swine you infer.. yes, the prices are horrendous, but we have to pay it 16 TIMES. You, just once. Its hardly our fault, the fans. We hate what theyre doing. Hence the gates and a few eejits booing.
    But get off your high horse for a minute. Hull, 4th tier tripe in a run-down ground for years, and yet you now think you are bigger, better..? Jeez. Didnt you nearly go tits up a year or 2 ago? But got rescued by a money-man? Good for you.
    Pig sick of the slurs against my proud little club/town. I guarantee, that for a ‘lesser-light’, we are more famous/well-known that bleedin’ Hull..
    Get your 30 sheckels out and quit whining.. our club has to do it apparently, to survive. Because we havent got multi-millionaires bankrolling us, and unlike 70% of this division, we spend ONLY what we make. We play by the rules. Doubt you can say the same.. and, you are going to be surprised tonite. Lousy season?? Where you get that from? We have hit a bad patch with 3 defeats and 2 wins in 5. But prior to that we were unbeaten in 8.. its early days, and it will be BYE-BYE to YOUR unbeaten run later…

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