They say that 50 points are needed in the Championship in order to stay up. Well, we’d done that. Our unexpected season had seen us completely avoid the relegation dog fight, and instead, put in a bid for a playoff position, not that I was pushing for it. We stood an outside chance, and I knew it. To be honest, anything now was a bonus, I wasn’t about to be disappointed if we finished gloriously mid table.
After the stunning wins at the end of February, March would see us come up against Derby, QPR and Norwich away, whilst our only home game of the month would come against Ipswich. A 4 game month, against some of the biggest spenders in the league.
We’d beaten Derby at the Ipro in the League Cup earlier in the season, but had lost at home to them. It would be a tough game no doubt, and one I wasn’t 100% confident about. The usual set up was needed, us on the counter in a 433/451. Derby would play a full strength team, but it would be a Barnsley night to celebrate! A first half goal from Sam Winnall, and a Marcus Maddison finish in the 1st minute of extra time burning Derby on the counter. Derby would push back, but the makeshift back four of Roberts, Kpekawa and fullbacks of White and Janko were more than enough!
In August, QPR at home had been our first point of the season, and now, an away trip to Loftus Road saw the two teams in very different fortune. For us, we found ourselves high in the table, whilst QPR’s season had fallen away. Jimmy Floyd Hasslebank hadn’t lasted until Christmas, and the new manager; Guillermo Amor hadn’t improved things, with the London side sitting in 16th. QPR were much the better team, creating significant chances a plenty. But, their ability to finish chances was missing, and for a team on a ruthless streak, it would pay dividends. Our first opportunity came from a corner, which Rawson casually put away. QPR would push us all the way, but a Tom Bradshaw goal in the 1st minute of extra time would kill off any chance of a come back or equaliser, despite Barnsley being down to 10 men, through Jay Spearing’s second yellow card, and Aiden White being taken off injured.
We’d return to South Yorkshire to meet Ipswich under the guidance of Uwe Rosler, who was now into his 3rd day as manager. Sitting in 18th place, they were another team who had had quite the opposite season to us, especially after defeating us on the opening day of the season. The game itself was extremely one sided, especially after Ipswich midfielder Luke Hyam was sent off with a straight red in the 4th minute. Ipswich defended deep, and whilst we commanded the game, we couldn’t get a goal.We’d finally get the break through in the 75th through Adam Hammill, who got on the end of a Maddison cross. 1-0 would be the final score.
The reality of squad depth
We’d done bloody well this season with the player’s we’d got, and my starting IX were in my opinion, as good as anything out there on their day. After that though, it was blindingly obvious that we lacked depth. I knew as soon as I cancelled the loan of Dabo in January that I would regret it, and sure enough, I did with the increasing injuries to Aiden White at left back. Cole Kpekawa would fill in in the position, but bloody hell he is awful at it. It’s a position that I would need to improve on in summer, and it would ultimately cost me my match away to Norwich, where the aforementioned Kpekawa failed at denying Norwich crossing twice, to allow Cameron Jerome and Jonny Howson to score past us, before going off injured. Jay Spearing would also, again, be sent off. I’m starting to hate him. 2-1 would be the final score, a shame, but a positive run regardless…
…and we were still in with a shout of the playoffs you know.