Well well well, that was pretty grim wasn’t it? For all but 20 minutes or so on Saturday United were outclassed, outfought and outplayed by better and stronger, not to mention richer opponents.
Two defeats in two since the cancellation of the football programme put a spanner in the works for United – now where have we seen that before? We glossed over the midweek defeat to Cheltenham, but despite Barnsley being a strong side, Saturday presented a great chance to put that game behind us.
The game eventually kicked off after yet another minutes silence plus a half-hearted attempt to sing the national anthem, and both teams looked up for it from the off, United getting forward and having some decent chances, some of which on another day could have gone in. Our first chance fell after just eight minutes, Brophy lashing against the post following a mazy Tracey run. Six minutes later the first yellow card of the game went to Liam Kitching, scuffling with George Williams off the ball in front of the NRE. Dunk soon followed him into the book before Sam Smith hit a weak shot straight at the keeper.
Barnsley punished us, against the run of play really, the U’s defence being cut open easily and Cole waiting, unmarked in the centre of the goal to fire home past Mitov. He was booked soon after, and the half ended with Harvey Knibbs scuffing a shot straight at the keeper.
The second half had barely got going when Sam Smith jumped for a challenge with Barnsley’s keeper Collins, miles out of his box and both players going down. Whilst Smith soon got up and started arguing with anyone nearby, Collins was in a much more serious way remaining prone as paramedics ran on to the pitch. After a long wait he made his way to his feet, supported by two team mates and covered in blood as he was helped from the pitch.
The injury looked like it rattled United more than it had Barnsley, and the change galvanised the Tykes who starting pushing for another goal – on one rare United foray forward Kitching fouled Harvey Knibbs and was given a second yellow, yet this just made Barnsley stronger still. Not even the introduction of Ironside and May could engage the U’s, and former United defender Robbie Cundy put the game out of reach shortly after.
This seemed to give United a bit of a kick up the arse and Sam Smith had an attempt ruled out for offside, rightly so. Jack Lankester was also victim to the linesmans flag, this one looking tighter, but Smith couldn’t believe (or doesn’t understand) it and earned himself a booking for his protests.
With fourteen minutes injury time to play United looked like they’d given up and when James Norwood made it 3-0 on 90 minutes the ground began to empty.
Now we know we’re not going to win every week, we know that this bunch of players are generally playing beyond their individual abilities, and we know that League One is basically a League of Haves and Have Nots, but this performance (and that on Tuesday) were particularly galling given that we know that Mark Bonner sides generally put up a good fight even if they’re second best on the day. From what we’ve seen these past two games that hasn’t been the case, and coupled with some players beginning to look tired after just nine games there’s cause for concern.
BUT… we know that Mark Bonner is at the helm, and we know that there isn’t a manager out there better placed to run this club than him. We’ve seen and heard some fans begin to question him but in our opinion that’s bollocks. The reason this club is where it is, the reason we’ve had the ride we’ve had the past two seasons is because of Mark Bonner. It’s unusual for us to follow a bad result with another but it was bound to happen at some point let’s be realistic. We’re 9th in the League, we’re above that lot up the A1, and we’re Mark Bonners Amber Army.
Keep The Faith.
Man of the Match: Honestly it’s hard to pick, it wasn’t a great day for anyone really.
Soundtrack of the Match: The Streets – Turn The Page