Barnsley 1-0 Millwall ~ Match Report

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And so it came to pass, as my old mentor Francis Howerd was fond of saying, that season 10-11 would be completed by a visit for MrsB and me to the most Hovislike wilds of Barnsley.

Because of the bastard SKYTV all games kicked off at 12.45am so it was an early start for the Millwall faithful but the best part of 900 fans made the effort to see the Lions complete their fixtures in our first season back in the Championship, with nothing to play for but that old chestnut, pride.

Barnsley is northern; there can be no denying, from flat caps and Whippets to Tetley tea folk and brass bands playing Dvorak's New World Symphony from morning til night, it is steeped in a nostalgia that the rest of us want no part of.

Who can forget dear Georgi Hristov whose truthful quote has haunted him ever since, who, when he was asked to comment on his first thoughts on the locals of his new club said, "The local girls are far uglier than the ones in Belgrade. Our women are far prettier and they don't drink as much beer."

He liked a laugh did Georgi, unlike the charmless buggers he turned out for.

The ground is actually reasonably presentable except for the strangely antiquated main stand allegedly over 100 years old that looks on the point of collapse. The other three sides are all up to standard although the cavernous away section was bigger than the north stand at the Den so we aint the only club with a load of wasted seats. I guess in their heyday they could fill Oakwell with no bother but I fear those days are long gone now.

Just a brief note regarding our fans who were bang on form with their vocal support throughout and I can just about forgive the fancy dress brigade but I swear to the Gods of football I was hoping Peter Griffin was going to show up and sort that chicken out…

There was a definite ‘party’ atmosphere brewing and it was all good-natured stuff as the teams came out and Mr Jackett’s last line up of the season was as follows:
Forde in goal, Dunne, Ward, Robbo, Craig in defence, Bouazza, Mkandawire, Abdou and Townsend in midfield which left McQuoid and Morison as our strikers.

Referee Russell got us underway and we settled in quickly, Bouazza and Townsend both working the flanks well and keeping the Barnsley defence on their toes. Townsend was frightening the life out of them and looked dangerous whenever he got hold of the ball.

We should really have opened the scoring on the twenty-minute mark when Townsend yet again caused mayhem when he beat his man and clipped in a dainty cross that had the ball pinging around the six yard box like a demented pin ball and Mkandawire and Ward both had a chance to get some meat behind the bloody thing but all to no avail.

We had a laugh when erstwhile Millwall favourite Danny Haynes picked up a loose pass and galloped down the wing in time honoured fashion then fell over at the crucial moment and fell flat on his arse as Craig calmly collected the ball and trotted away.

Morison had a go with a solo effort that was saved by Steele in the Barnsley goal and moments later again broke free and this time set up Dunne who also saw his shot saved by the over worked ‘keeper.

Mkandawire was up next as he hit a ferocious shot that missed the target and then in quick succession we watched in disbelief as first Townsend and then McQuoid where denied by Steele.

Townsend again was left as frustrated as a pyromaniac in a petrified forest when Steele yet again saved a 20 yarder from the busy winger.

The half ended scoreless but only the Gods of football and ‘keeper Steele knew how.

The second half continued as it ended with the Lions dominating the game but almost like a metaphor for our season, disaster struck about 12 minutes in as a pretty mundane move by the home side saw the ludicrously named Noble-Lazarus hit a hopeful punt towards our goal and we watched open mouthed as it beat Forde and ended up in the back of our net. 1-0

Mr Jackett didn’t mess about and made two subs immediately, bringing of Bouazza (who looked royally pissed off) and McQuoid, replacing them with Henry & Marquis respectively.

Marquis almost bagged the equaliser with his first touch but he also fell foul of the in form Steele who pulled off another fine save and even then as Morison tried to capitalise on the rebound the man of the match ‘keeper thwarted him.

The last throw of Mr Jackett’s dice saw Harris replace Morison but I think we all knew the writing had been on the wall since the first save but when we finally managed to beat the ‘keeper in injury time we watched in disbelief as Mkandawire’s header clattered against the bar and bounced away like our hopes and dreams of a last minute equaliser.

So that was that. We battered them but couldn’t find a way past the impressive Steele. We registered about 18 attempts on their goal but had got no return for our endeavours.

All in all though the season for me has been fantastic and it really seems to have flown by. We have had some terrific results and some heart breaking defeats but overall it has been way above my personal expectations, which I have managed very well indeed, even if I do say so, myself. I predicted 17th place for us and am delighted to have been completely off the pace.

I have also enjoyed scribbling down these missives for my own personal pleasure and I hope that somewhere along the line I have entertained some of you out there with my ramblings. Thanks for reading and for the comments, you are too kind, whoever you are.

One last thing, even if you are not religious, please say a prayer and offer a small sacrifice to all the Gods of football and lets sit back and watch the retards from East London get relegated and then slowly self destruct in the very near future.

Enjoy the summer break and I’ll see you all next season
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