Tarn down

It is almost 25 years since Tom Cowan scored direct from a throw in at Oakwell, in a 3-1 defeat, so it was vaguely poignant that an ugly and messy Yorkshire derby should be settled as a direct result of another dubious long throw.

Not that Town should have any complaints at conceding just as the clock ticked over the 3 minutes added. The additional seconds resulted from the time taken for the visitors to utterly waste their own injury time free kick; rather than managing the dying moments to take a point they only deserved because neither side were worthy of maximum points, they lost possession, discipline and organisation.

Rarely allowed any sort of fluency, Town didn’t take advantage of a brief period of ascendancy in the first half which should have seen them take a 2 goal lead. A lively opening 5 minutes from Barnsley needed good interventions by Schofield to prevent the hosts taking the lead, but Town grew in to the game after that.

O’Brien, whose decent first half performance descended badly in the second, made trademark driving runs at the opposition and deserved better than Campbell’s efforts to convert one particularly dangerous ball in the box – as did Pipa, later – but another of his runs led to the corner from which Town took the lead.

A short corner routine nicely created room in the box for a cross which was met by Edmonds-Green for his first goal for the club, and a foundation was established.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t built upon in the only period of the game where Town looked remotely in control and capable of beating Barnsley’s insistent pressing. Hogg, outstanding again in a game which demanded his football memory kicked in, played a beautiful forward pass in to space for Campbell who really should have chipped over the advancing keeper rather than slide the ball wide.

Already guilty of not being sharp enough to capitalise on two excellent balls in to the box, the hard working but less than clinical forward could have established a 2 goal advantage which was unlikely to be overtaken.

The equaliser followed soon after as a Barnsley corner found a free man beyond the far post, with the header back across goal causing inordinate panic as Sarr, who reverted back to unreliability as easily as he dons the cloak of invincibility in other games, managed to aid the opposition by pushing Edmonds-Green in to Schofield and then failing to deal with the resultant mêlée. 

Back on terms, Barnsley dominated the visitors for the rest of the half and, with the exception of Hogg, Town’s midfield evaporated under pressure. The enigmatic Eiting, struggling again to influence a game clearly foreign to his experience, wilted away while O’Brien’s passing capability collapsed. Bacuna worked hard enough defensively but had little influence in the little forward movement Town were mustering.

Eiting did, however, produce one inspired back heel to Campbell which arguably should have resulted in a penalty for the Terriers just before the break.

As the weather deteriorated, the game followed suit. Town had Schofield to thank for a good save from an overhead kick and one or two more routine interceptions, but were unable to trouble the home keeper whatsoever in a pretty dreadful second half display punctuated by error and poor decision making.

Barnsley weren’t much better but looked slightly more capable of grabbing the winning goal the game simply did not deserve.

The home side, however, were able to call on a bench presumably capable of changing the momentum while Pritchard and Dhiakaby were, yet again, entrusted to make a difference from ours. They did not, and surely it is time for something other than this irredeemable pair even with a bench as thin as it is currently.

Losing a point which was only deserved in a negative sense is not the end of the world and hardly unusual for a squad which is punching a little in mid table, however bizarre and annoying the manner of defeat. It is another learning curve for Corberán in a season of rebuilding and it is to be hoped that January recruitment, particularly in forward areas, will be judicious and progressive.

Having heard and read the EFL media’s excitement with Barnsley, their unrelentingly ugly football came as a bit of a shock, but perhaps the circumstances of the day, not least the weather, dictated the style. Their energy could not be faulted, however, and subduing Town down the flanks for all but a 15 minute period in the first half earned them the 3 points.

Until the Terriers learn to cope with the physicality of the Championship, progress will be a long time coming. Solutions needed Carlos.

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