Barnsley Cocks

Eesh.

Yep, a rare Saturday afternoon for your editor watching a game as a fan, and after Chopped 1 Chops 4 I guess it’ll be another two months before I’m welcomed back…

It’s a bad scoreline, although one that is a tad harsh on us. Yes, the gap between us and safety is increasing again. But today reconfirmed the almost depressingly obvious – there’s not enough quality.

To our credit, we went a goal down, battled back and deserved to equalise. Nightingale had a superb shot that was saved with equal excellency, and I can’t fault our battling qualities even at 1-3 down.

But that miss by Jervis – well, it gets worse and worse every time you look at it. No wonder Luton don’t want him back.

If you want to sum up our issues up front not just this season but before that, just replay that in your mind over and over again. Anyone else other than him would have tapped it goalbound, and this might have been a different story.

And when they went 2-1, then 3-1 up, I think we knew it was going to be a writeoff.

So, what? Well, this is the first major defeat (scoreline wise) of WAG’s tenure, although we were forewarned that Barnsley were probably the best side in the division. Their clinical finishing was light years away compared to our shabby lot.

Thankfully, we do have Tuesday to get this out of our system, and that’s now become a must-win game.

There was a change in tactics that probably won’t be repeated in a hurry, whether WD was trying something that he was forced into or whether it was an experiment gone wrong we’ll never know.

Fortunately, there are things that point to a brighter future, even if that may come too late for this campaign. We’ll look at most of them later, although I was impressed at how we were able to hassle them until we finally got worn down.

But we need more than that at the moment….

Plus points: We scored. Could have been 3-1 to us at the break.

Minus points: We lost. Sinking feeling again. Jervis. The realisation of how too much of this squad is still poor.

The referee’s a…: Can’t remember him annoying people, which makes a change.

Them: At least a division above us in quality, and unfortunately it showed. Their goals were clinical, and that’s what undid us.

Fifth in the table, and you can see why – they looked menacing from the off, and they have some players who you would expect in the Championship. Thankfully, we won’t play sides of that calibre most weeks.

Like Millwall and (pre-Prem) Huddersfield, Barnsley seem to be one of those clubs who find themselves in League One more often than they should be. Any notion our club has of getting into the Championship will have been reminded today just what level we need to be at.

Decent turnout from them, though I hope some of them didn’t turn out in peak caps. Not for the Barnsley stereotype, more that they look like a bunch of hipsters…

Point to ponder: So, what are these bright spots in a day of increasing gloom?

Well, we saw Connolly make his home debut, and his Azeez-like pace had some distinctly unAzeez-like delivery. Shame nobody was on the other end of his crosses.

Kalambayi got MOTM I think, and with good reason if so. Never could quite understand why the previous regime put the wheelclamps on him, but then I’ll never understand a lot of what they did.

Hartigan and Nightingale have big fan-clubs, and you do sense they’re all being earmarked for being future regular players.

And while we must always try and avoid relegation until it’s mathematically impossible to do so, one does wonder if we’re seeing the embryo of a side that could do quite well in L2 next season?

We all know there’s too much crap in this squad, that some of the expensive mistakes won’t be able to get shifted if we go down, and even if we do stay up WAG have got a very busy summer ahead of them.

But the likes of those I’ve mentioned are here next season, I think, and there’ll be some more coming through. Either from within, or outside.

I can’t remember AFCW actually properly nurturing players, especially young ones. It’s either been a massive churning exercise (everything up to L2), or seemingly getting thrown on the scrapheap (since returning to the FL) – almost a bit too readily.

We need to get shot of that mentality, and thankfully it looks like we’re finally going down the right path. And let’s face it – the youngsters won’t do any worse than the senior players…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) My first game at KM since (I think) Pompey. Good to see that the scoreboard still doesn’t work. 2) The Jervis miss. Needs repeating again. 3) A huddle before the game. Knew we were in trouble today when we did that.

Anything else? Let’s not beat about the bush here – relegation. It’s still January, with a fair amount of games to play, and safety is still within our grasp. But today may have been the first sense of resignation about playing in L2 next season.

That’s not the same as acceptance, and there’s going to be some scrapping to be done still. But we’ve gone from “let’s not discuss it yet” to “All right then”.

Us going down is going to hurt, but we might get over that relatively quickly if it happens. Especially if it’s clear there’s a nucleus that we can build on again.

And if we do find ourselves playing Crawley or Port Vale in 19/20, it’s not going to be a shock is it?

If we get too many more games like today between now and May 4th, then it’s going to be a blessed relief more than anything. WAG have bought a sense of direction back, but they can only do so much with the crap they’ve been left with.

While some will still hang around like a bad smell, much of this lot will be gone in the summer – and they won’t be missed.

I’m not saying for one minute that we should hope to get relegated, far from it, but if we lose against Fleetwood then just like when you know you’re about to be in a car crash – you know when to start bracing.

So, was it worth it? No.

In a nutshell: Ecky thumped.

And finally: I’m off Stateside tomorrow, until just before Sunderland, so thankfully get to miss out on Fleetwood and West Ham. No doubt we’ll win both and I’ll find myself being as welcome as a Franchise fan in a nursery…