M is for Momentum
The win over Rotherham gave us our first precious league win of the season, and crucially shifted our players moods from “Okay” to the lovely green of “Good”. We were unbeaten in 4 (if you count the League Cup), and were starting to get a good rhythm. The switch in midfield was proving crucial in creating more chances, and retaining the ball, and my original pessimism towards the playing style we would have to use this season had gone, replaced by positive thoughts of attacking football. Obviously, I didn’t suddenly expect us to now storm the league, but we could get better, and on our day would be a match for anyone.
Our running saw us play;
Brentford (away-League Cup)
Realistically, I wanted to get something from the Preston and Reading games, but figured anything from Wolves, Brighton and Villa would be a bonus.
We started at Deepdale, and immediately dominated the game. Farrend Rawson made his debut for the club having joined on loan from Derby, solidifying our back 4. On loan winger Ryan Kent would kick off what would be a brilliant month for the 20 year old, by giving us the lead in the 2nd minute. Preston offered little, but despite our brilliant performance, we couldn’t get a second, and so, as is always inevitable, Preston equalised on the 57th. Bloody hell. Things would get even worse, as Jay Spearing found himself on the end of a nasty collision, leading to him being brought off and out for 8 weeks with a shoulder injury. Bloody bloody hell.
I wasn’t about to let all that positive play come to nothing, so threw everything at them. Thomas Bradshaw, who had been out since preseason would make his debut, coming off the bench replacing Winnall. It would prove super effective, as in the 93rd minute, the striker sprayed the ball out wide to the approaching Saidy Janko on the right flank, who played a low cross to the near post, finding the first touch of Bradshaw, and bouncing into the back of the net. 2-1 Barnsley in extra time. Job done.
Wolves would be a different beast entirely. Despite my positivity, we couldn’t create against a strong side, instead opting to narrow their chances. It would work for us, as we grabbed a point from a 0-0 at Molineux. Thomas Bradshaw, the player who grabbed us the winner would also come off early with yet another injury…Thankfully, it would only be temporary, and puts him out for 4 days.
Reading and Brentford would see us back to winning, dominant ways. The visit of Reading to Oakwell would see drama a plenty, with Reading having a player sent off for a very naughty tackle, and us running out 3-1 winners, our largest win of the season so far! Marc Roberts, Sam Winnall, and Ryan Kent (again) on the score sheet! An away trip to Brentford (you’d presume) would be a harder challenge, but once again Barnsley played positively, and got the result. Leading all the way until the 60th minute through a goal from the returning Thomas Bradshaw, Barnsley would then retake the lead through Angus MacDonald, before Adam Hammill fired home a final goal to win another game on the bounce 3-1. A 4th round tie, away to Derby County would be our reward…didn’t want to win the cup anyway.
Back Down to Earth
If the 3-1 wins put us in footballing heaven, Brighton and Villa would serve as a timely reminder that footballing hell was only around the corner. The 2nd and 1st positioned teams (at that time) of the league would prove why they are where they are, with Brighton running out 2-1 winners over us, whilst Villa would comfortably win 2-0 at Oakwell. It’s not to say that we didn’t play well, but the gap in quality was obvious. Ryan Kent would get on the score sheet again during the Brighton game, helping him secure the “Young Player of the Month Award”, but two goals from recent Brighton loanee acquisition Lucas João were enough for them to collect all 3 points.
Our control of possession over Villa was admirable, but with Steve Bruce’s side operating a 3-2-3-2, it was impossible to break the side down, and creating any chances of quality. Rudy Gestede would grab a lead for the Birmingham side, and a Micah Richards set piece goal killed off any hope of a come back in the 75th. To make matters even worse, Captain Conor Hourihane would go off in the 65th with a thigh injury, putting him out for a few weeks…
…in time for our next fixture…the Yorkshire derby against Leeds United.