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Barnsley v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 6th April 2012
By: Preview Percy

Usually we call around Preview Percy's relatives this time of year to find out whose turn it is to have the old fool over for Easter. However, when we called this time, three of his relatives said they were going abroad, two just hung up and the lawyers acting for the remaining branch of the family simply sent over another copy of the High Court injunction banning him from within 100 miles of their home. So, while he's still stuck at the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered, we thought we'd keep him busy anyway. We sent someone else over to pick up the manuscript obviously. John Northcutt and his stats follow...

Next we traipse up the M1 to somewhere called 'Yorkshire' where we will be meeting Barnsley at Oakwell on Good Friday. Kick-off is 5.20pm and the match is being broadcast on that there wireless with pictures thing on the televisual service of the British Broadcasting Corporation. I expect they’ll use that splendid fellow Alvar Liddell for the commentary.

We will arrive with our opponents sitting in 18th place, some three places and nine points clear of Bristol City in the drop zone having gained 46 points from their 40 games. One would have thought that a nine-point cushion at this time of the season ought to be enough to keep them up. However, recent current form has been rather poor with one win and five defeats coming from their last six.

So, they’ll be keeping a nervous eye over their shoulders during the run in to the end of the season. The sole win came a couple of weeks back in the 1-0 home win over Peterborough. The defeats have come away at Ipswich and Palace (both 1-0), 4-0 at home to Reading and 2-0 away at both Southampton and Middlesbrough.

When you look at that run of results, a good reason for their current position can be gleaned from a brief glance at the “goals for” column over that period. There’s only the one, that being Cotterill’s effort in the 1-0 win over Posh. Other than that there’s been nothing.

Clearly their top scorer, some chap called Ricardo Vaz Te who has 12 for them this season, hasn’t been pulling his weight in recent months. Tykes’ manager Keith Hill was less than happy when RVT elected to move on when Mr Allardyce came knocking back in January. Market forces kept the fee down as well with RVT’s contract at Barnsley expiring at the end of the season – he would have ended up going for nothing. All in all it will be interesting to see what sort of reception he gets should he be selected.

They recently brought in Spurs ‘keeper David Button on loan following injuries to both regular net minder and serial undergarment regulation infringer Luke Steele and his understudy David Preece. Although nominally on the pro books at White Hart Lane since 2008, Button has been changing address more frequently than someone under the Witness Protection Scheme, and in the last 3-4 years he’s been to (pauses for breath): Grays, Rochdale, Bournemouth, Luton, Dagenham & Redbridge, Crewe, Shrewsbury, Plymouth, Leyton Orient, Doncaster and now Barnsley.

I make that eleven clubs in under four years – which would have been thirteen but for double spells at Grays and Crewe. Presumably he has a lifetime of holidays to come with his loyalty points from Red Spotted Hanky when he finally gets to cash them in.

They have a number of loanees in. Norwich City sent along Korey Smith, a midfielder for a month back in January, since when the 21 year-old impressed enough for the deal to be extended until the end of the season. He is the only person in the real world to be called “Korey”, that particular name being generally reserved for characters in US cartoon series and comic books.

One loanee we won’t be seeing feature against us will be Frank Nouble. Nouble is in his second loan spell at Oakwell having played up there for a spell this time last season. Nouble’s days at the Boleyn are seemingly numbered, with the club having accepted a bid from Crawley for him back in the last transfer window, only for the player to decided that Sussex was not for him. The loan rules will mean that we will at least be spared the embarrassment of having him score against us.

In the absence of Vaz Te they have turned to Huddersfield for a loan of Kallum Higginbotham to provide something in the “goals for” column. Higginbotham spent a while with Falkirk north of the border and, in the January window, both Celtic & Rangers were said to have been sniffing about, though they always are up there aren’t they. In any case Rangers proved to be “a bit short this month” and Celtic’s interest, if it genuinely existed, didn’t manifest itself in the form of a move for the player.

Higginbotham headed back to the side of the border with running water and electricity on deadline day, moving down to Huddersfield Town to join up with Lee Clark who, two weeks later, was promptly sacked. The new boss (Simon Grayson) doesn’t seem to be a fan of Higginbotham’s and so, less than two months after arriving, the player finds himself shipped out on loan at Oakwell. Funny old game.

And so to us. Injury news is that the thigh injury to Mark Noble that caused all our woes on Saturday will keep him out of this one. On the bright side Demel, Diop and Reid are all now fit and available for selection. Regular readers will be aware that this column has noted the demise of the use of the word “metatarsal” in injury bulletins over the past couple of years, with the more prosaic – and equally accurate – “toe” coming back into recent fashion.

What, therefore, are we to make of the news that George McCartney was a doubt for this one having picked up a suspected broken metatarsal in the Reading debacle? Thankfully the “suspected fractured metatarsal” turned out to be merely a “bruised toe” and Linda ought to be up and running for this one.

Last week was highly disappointing in that we gave away a win to a very average side. I cannot help but comment on a few words attributed to the manager earlier this week. In particular I would refer to his statement that suggests that anyone who reckons that James Tomkins cannot play in midfield is talking “b*llocks”.

In defence of his position the manager has pointed to the player having done that job in the three sending-off games. It is true that Tomkins “did a job” during those particular emergencies, but even then he seemed particularly uncomfortable in the role. He’s a fine central defender and the manager’s insistence on playing him out of position in the second half against Reading disrupted both the midfield – where the player appeared lost – and the defence where Faye had to get used to playing alongside Collins.

So, in my opinion, the decision to bring on Collins rather than Lansbury was a mistake. My opinion is backed up by the way the second half went. If that is “talking bollocks” perhaps somebody could explain to me exactly where I’m wrong and show me exactly where the move was so successful. Preferably using examples, because from where I’m sitting we lost a game we ought to have won.

All is not lost though, although the manager is going to have to realise that we are still in with a shout despite the way we’ve been playing rather than because of it. Reading won’t always get the rub of the green – and some awful refereeing decisions going for them – every week and we’ll just need to keep plugging away and see where we end up.

This weekend we are up against opponents who, with all due respect, are finding goals harder to come by than a petrol station without a queue. So let’s pretend we need a win first and that a draw would be very much second best. I’m therefore putting the Rest Home Easter Egg Fund (£2.50) on a 3-1 win this time, more in hope than expectation but what the hell.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met: Won 1-0 Diop’s header gave all three points to a side that was down to the bare bones through injury and suspension. A fine debut for Dan Potts and a cat ran on the pitch. Now THAT’S entertainment.

Referee: Anthony Bates – in the papers this week apologising to Cardiff for disallowing a perfectly good goal on the say so of his linesman. This is his third match involving us this season. All our goals in the previous two (1-0 v Peterborough and 2-1 v Forest) came from penalties. Make of that what you will.

Danger Man: ...was a 1960’s TV series starring the late Patrick McGoohan as John Drake, a NATO (or, in some episodes, British) secret agent. The programme was retitled as Secret Agent for the US market where they don’t like to think too much about things. When McGoohan went on to make the marvellous The Prisoner many postulated that the “No.6” character was in fact Danger Man’s Drake, though McGoohan himself denied this and.....

Ok, ok, I was struggling for a danger man since we went out and signed him in the transfer window. I’ll therefore go for Craig Davies, sometime Welsh international who is the top scorer (with 10) of those players still with our opponents.

Daft Fact of the Week: I happened across a website that had a subsection entitled “The Best Thing About Barnsley” . The site was full of people failing to come up with anything positive to say, except this chap to whom a doff of the cap is duly proffered:.

"Barnsley has the culture and elegance of Paris, the chic of Barcelona, the affluence of Monte Carlo, the attractions of Orlando, the education of Oxbridge, the career opportunities of New York, the shopping of London, the fashion boutiques of Milan and the nightlife of Las Vegas. Wellington Street is just like Orlando’s International Drive. The women all look like Shania Twain, Britney Spears, Andrea Corr and Jennifer Lopez, while the men resemble Antonio Banderas and Tom Cruise.

The population lives in large detached houses complete with their own swimming pools, drive around in Rollers, Bentleys, Ferraris and Mercedes, and pick oranges from their acres of well-maintained and manicured gardens, whilst Kendray, Lundwood and Athersley are amongst the world’s most desirable addresses. Oakwell is just like the Nou Camp stadium, and inspired by signings like Beckham, Zidane, Ronaldo, Van Nistelrooy and Rio Ferdinand, Barnsley FC went on to win the coveted Grand Slam of the Worthington and FA Cups, the Premier League title and European Champions Cup after outclassing Real Madrid in the all-conquering 2002-3 season, showing a dominance which left Steve Waugh and his Aussies as green as their felt caps.

Pity this idyll was spoiled by the alarm clock ringing and millstone-around-the-neck reality set in. just as the Barnsley FC squad were about to ride around, displaying this season’s trophy hoard from on board their open top Tracky bus..."

John NorthcuttStat man John: Northcutt's corner

Head to Head
Pld 54; West Ham Utd 31, Barnsley 9, Draws 14.

Biggest Win
10th January 1998: West Ham Utd 6-0 Barnsley (Boleyn Ground, Premiership)

Heaviest Defeat
1st September 1919: Barnsley 7-0 West Ham Utd (Oakwell, Division Two)

First Meeting
1st September 1919: Barnsley 7-0 West Ham Utd (Oakwell, Division Two)

Last Five Meetings
17th December 2011: West Ham Utd 1-0 Barnsley (Boleyn Ground, Championship)
8th January 2011: West Ham Utd 2-0 Barnsley (Boleyn Ground, FA Cup 3rd Round)
3rd January 2009: West Ham Utd 3-0 Barnsley (Boleyn Ground, FA Cup 3rd Round)
10th January 1998: West Ham Utd 6-0 Barnsley (Boleyn Ground, Premiership)
9th August 1997: Barnsley 1-2 West Ham Utd (Oakwell, Premiership)

Memorable Match
6th October 1987: West Ham Utd 2-5 Barnsley (Boleyn Ground, Littlewoods Cup 2nd Round)

An impotent West Ham, with just one win from the opening nine games of their 1987/88 Barclays Division One league campaign were lucky to escape with a goalless draw from the first tie against Second Division Barnsley at Oakwell. The replay resulted in supporters calling for the head of John Lyall - how little some things change - after his side blew a 2-0 half time lead to lose in extra time. Kevin Keen and Stewart Robson (scoring from the rebound after Tony Cottee's penalty was saved) gave West Ham a comfortable lead before a second half brace from Agnew (one from the penalty spot) took the game to extra game - where goals from Beresford, Lowndes and MacDonald secured a memorable win for Barnsley. West Ham went on to narrowly avoid the drop and relegate Chelsea in the process, so it wasn't all bad.

They Played For Both
Bill Johnson; Kyel Reid; Anton Otulakowski; Ricardo Vaz Te; Frank Nouble.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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