The game began with your saturated author a little concerned about our makeshift side and struggling, like Derek Holmes, to work out who was playing where. With about 4000 empty seats to choose from I felt pretty stupid choosing one with an obscured view behind a permanently vertical Dave Avery, his permanent cap and a pillar! Eventually I gathered we were playing 3-4-2 and deadly Derek sort of drifting about. We were missing Cummings, Purches, Broadhurst, Maher and err..Tindall so the back three was Buxton, Fletch and Browning! Oh dear.
Apart from an initial weak shot by Big Fletch, the opening 20 mins or so were all Barnsley as our players seemed all at sea and looking at each other for instructions. Barnsley had particular joy down the right hand side with O'Connor and Buxton leaving acres, no hectares, of space for accurate crosses. One found Kay, one of 3 unmarked strikers in the box, but Moss turned the header brilliantly away for a corner. This was closely followed by a Buxton error allowing another cross but the same unmarked striker shot hopelessly wide. Two further poor Barnsley efforts went wide and we could have been 4-0 down. The supporters, boosted by a "posse" of Doncaster Rovers fans who missed the turning for Southend, got behind the team anyway but then saw Cooke limp off after a nothing challenge. Elliott replaced him.
The Cherries gradually got the passing together with O'Connor and Hayter getting more time on the ball, but it was still a surprise when we took the lead on 31 mins. Feeney went on a run down the right after a Hayter pass and found the diving Hayter with a great cross. His header couldn't miss and Barnsley must have been sick. A minute later though and it should have been 2-0 when Hayter found O'Connor with a great cross field ball but when through on the edge of the box the shot went straight to the debutant keeper, Caig. The home side then forced a couple of corners and Betsy's pace was troubling Fletch but without Gorre who impressed at Dean Court, Barnsley looked short on confidence and the home fans seemed frustrated at half time to be losing. If one of those early chances had gone in we could have been on the end of a large defeat, but I was hopeful that our luck would hold and we would manage our first away win since October.
The Tykes came out all water pistols firing in the second half and the home fans woke up. Stock still looked lost and was giving away possession too easily and Elliott was soon forced into right back position. But again we started to put them under pressure and Feeney might have done better when put through by Big Fletch, who was doing ok. Barnsley then thought they had equalised when Kay had a far post header disallowed for pushing but with Betsy on fire they always looked like creating chances. But we hung on in there and Feeney annoyingly fell over just as he was about to shoot after a great run.
After 65 minutes or so Barnsley really got on top which saw Stock replaced by Thomas who had a pretty good 20 mins. We sat back, got more desperate with an overhead kick from Kay hitting the left post and Elliott producing a world beating last ditch tackle on Monk when he seemed certain to score. Kay then forced another good Moss save but eventually on 80 minutes the inevitable equaliser came from a soft effort from Lumsden who squeezed his shot past Moss after a Betsy pass from the left.
Credit to AFCB after this for not sitting back and the game went a bit mad with an end to end entertaining finish. Moss saved well at Kay's feet. Hayter forced Caig into a great save, Thomas headed a far post header from the rebound straight at Steve Fletcher and Feeney shot straight at Ireland (the defender not the country) when faced with an almost empty net. Apart from the goal the latter two efforts were our best chances. Betsy then hit the post with a shot after a great run down the left with Moss well beaten but apart from a couple of poor Barnsley free kicks that was the final chance of a decent game.
An odd feeling afterwards as with a depleted squad and all the Barnsley chances, mostly missed by Kay who is either unlucky or useless, I should have been happy with a point but after winning for so long and having two great chances at the end the win seemed possible. But in hindsight, a draw was the least Barnsley deserved though I do not agree with their manager who said they were as "unlucky as you can get". Poor finishing and battling defending more like. Also, they could easily have lost it. Overall a game far more entertaining than expected and we remain a reasonable 13th. Just don't visit Barnsley for a beer festival!
Oh, and as for Derek Holmes, I think he did ok really after his injury but why does he run like a frightened ostrich?
AFCB: Moss, Hayter, Buxton, Carl Fletcher, Browning, O'Connor, Cooke (Elliott 19), Stock (Thomas 72), Feeney, Steve Fletcher, Holmes (Connell 90).
Subs not used: Robinson, Saadi.
David Priddis, Doncaster