Millwall 1-2 Barnsley ~ Match Musings

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It is my intention to keep this short and sweet, dear readers, as you do not really need me to elongate the base feelings of abject misery leading up to our festive break.

Look, I know it is all swings and roundabouts and you win some, lose some, it’s all the same to me as dear old Lemmy will warble at any given opportunity, but it still hits you like a well-placed knee cap to your dangly bits when a team come to the Den and carry out a bit of daylight robbery in the manner that befell us on this last game before Christmas.

We should have read the signs, I suppose, bring a friend for a fiver, Zampa handing out free selection packs to the kids, a steel band and an away team languishing at the bottom of the table win fans that were outnumbered by their flags barely noticeable in the away end… the signs were all in plpace and not many of us read them.

We got to our seats and waited for the team news and more changes for Mr Jackett yet again, no Abdou, the poor man is away on compassionate leave due to his three year old son’s leukaemia treatment and I am sure you are all with me when I say that our thoughts and best wishes are with him and his family at this time.

So, who did we have in the staring eleven then, Forde in goal, Lowry, Shittu, Beevers and Smith A at the back, Henry, Trotter, Wright and Feeney in midfield with Wood and Henderson up front.

Just before kick-off we noticed a Hereford United flag in the away end, it was hung over the side but was quickly removed, I have no idea what it was doing there but there you have it, very strange goings on indeed.

Referee Kettle got the game going as the rain was falling and we started off brightly but it soon became apparent that Barnsley had not turned up just to make up the numbers. They had a busy blonde bloke, Perkins, I think, who looked very useful in the middle of the park and with Tudgay on loan up front they posed a clear threat. He had two decent efforts early on that should have been ringing alarm bells for us but I fear we were too blasé and chose to ignore this as mere blips on our way to collecting three easy points.

We looked lethargic for the most part, Wright’s passing was going astray, Henry and Feeney’s wing work was non-existent and even Shittu’s normally solid defensive performance was lacking its usual robust attitude.
We had some chances to open the scoring, Trotter had a shot and Henderson failed to finish from close in but we were getting on top and we were definitely playing the more attacking football and we got a break around the 25 minute mark when Henderson was tripped over in the box and referee Kettle unhesitatingly pointed to the spot.

Trotter stood on the spot waiting for the ball but to our surprise Henderson waved our penalty taker away and insisted on taking the spot kick himself. Now I am not psychic but my spidey senses were tingling more than a soaking wet tongue on a PP9 battery as Henderson placed the ball and it did not surprise me when he fired the ball miles over the bar. His penalty taking record is abysmal and he should not be allowed anywhere near any more pens that we get.

Five minutes later we were left open mouthed like a stadium full of goldfish as we watched Barnsley break away and steal the lead. O’ Brien had the initial shot that Forde pushed straight into the path of Dawson who had the simplest of tap ins for 0-1.

We went in search for a quick equaliser, Trotter I think, had a shot from distance and Henderson again failed from close range and it just seemed that we were missing a vital ingredient. Lowry thumped a decent shot in but it didn’t trouble ‘keeper Steele.

The half finished soon after and there were some boos to be heard around the ground, which in my mind were really not justified. We had looked the better side for long periods and had the penalty been converted I suspect we might well have added at least another goal to it but the one conceded certainly knocked us out of our stride.

Now it would be remiss of me not to mention the half time entertainment. I have no axe to grind with kids singing Christmas carols, in fact, it is positively enjoyable at the festive time to hear the dulcet tones of pre-pubescent angelic voices radiating out over the PA speakers to bring Christmas cheer to our lives. But what we got was a group of kids who sounded like a sack full of cats being kicked by an irate donkey mixed in with a team of drunken bull frogs that were having their testicles removed by a rusty scalpel. They weren’t just singing off key and out of tune, they positively crushed the melody and danced up and down on the arrangement with hob nailed boots.

It came as no surprise that the CBL started a chorus of the monks chant to drown out the caterwauling but these kids were stopping for no one and they ploughed on regardless. Whoever told these poor unfortunates that they could sing needs either their ears syringed or an hearing aid fitted.

Back to the football now and the second half got going with no changes from Mr Jackett, which surprised most of us, as there were a few candidates who looked below par but, as I say, we persevered with the same line up and in truth they were doing alright but with ten minutes gone disaster struck. Adam Smith went for a tackle and it looked like he got in cleanly, there player went over but sprang straight back up, nothing to see here etc. However, Referee Kettle saw something and went over to admonish Smith and as he reached into his pocket we expected the usual yellow card that refs wave about like a linesman flag but no! It was a fucking red card! Unbelievable decision, and even the Barnsley players looked taken aback by the strange decision.

So, 0-1 down , reduced to ten men with about 35 minutes still to play. It didn’t bode well. But we rallied, and we went at the visitors with some gusto, it has to be said. At times, you would have been hard pressed to spot that we were a man down but we needed to make some changes and Mr Jackett duly obliged, bringing on first Jack Smith for Feeney just after the hour mark and then five minutes later he replaced the ineffective Henderson with N’Guessan.

As the game progressed we looked more and more the likelier of the two teams to get the next goal and with ten minutes still to play we got a deserved equaliser. A simple ball clipped forward saw trotter head it over the top of the Barnsley defence and Wood raced on and duly dispatched it into the back of the net. 1-1! And the relief was felt all around the place.

We now had no intentions of resting on our laurels, even with a man down we felt that this game could be won and we certainly went for it and perhaps in hindsight it was a bit gung ho but when the game went into time added on we were just about accepting that perhaps the draw wasn’t so bad considering the circumstances and then we got hit with the killer blow.

As we were pushing for the winner we caught out at the back and with Tudgay looking about a yard offside, he latched onto a through ball and raced towards Forde and as our ‘keeper came to meet him we watched in horror as the Barnsley man clipped the ball over Forde and into the back of the net. 1-2 and game over.

So, we finish our last home game of 2012 with a depressing defeat and we will finish the year off with a trip to table toppers Cardiff so who knows, we may well go there and get a result of sorts, such is the diversity of this division this season.

All it leaves me to do now is wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year and if we have a second half to the season like we have had a first then perhaps things aint so bad after all?

"All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts and sometimes misses penalties" - (As You Like It , Act II, Scene VII).
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