The international break was once again upon us, so I took the time to arrange a little friendly between our local affiliate and ourselves. The game itself was a non event, with Barnsley running out 4-1 winners over Frickley Athletic, Bradshaw with 2, Maddison and Pizarro with 1! But that wasn’t the headline grabbing story…Marc Roberts, our dominant centre back and crucial player, would go down in the second half…a cruciate ligament injury…out for 8-10 months. Cheers FM.
The loss of Roberts was huge, and meant that we’d now rely on Rawson, Navas and Holgate at the back. I was back to being afraid, and a 1-0 loss to Arsenal at home didn’t do anything to aid my fears. Arsenal were champions from the previous season, and they showed it. We weren’t bad, but a dodgy mistake by Davies saw Ozil scored a fluke goal. Perhaps we’d do better against Francesco Guidolin’s Everton. The Merseyside team had dropped off after an initial success, and found themselves in 13th, and rather uninspiring in their style of play. A home game against them would be just the thing for us to take advantage of!
Unfortunately, it would be the same old story. A very dull game, with limited opportunities, Everton’s lack of creativity were met by Barnsley’s lack of finishing and pace. it was a real stalemate. 0-0, with the number of shots on target being in single figures. Bloody hell, this was getting tough.
A bit more respite
Before our final league game of the season, we had another match in the league cup to look forward to, this time against Bristol City in the Championship. We were in the 4th round now, and another win in this game would take us back to the quarter finals, which was as far as we’d got the previous season. As we were getting further in the competition, I was taking it increasingly seriously, and putting out a strong squad. I wanted our boys to gel, and if we could find a way through in these games, perhaps we could build on it in the league.
Last year, Bristol had been worthy oppositions, having been above us in the league until the last few weeks. We’d had an awkward relationship with them, and they had proven to be somewhat challenging. This time however, it would be evident that we’d invested in our team over the summer, and the quality difference was noticeable. Despite Bristol having more of the ball, we’d take our chances clinically, with Welsh Striker Thomas Bradshaw and new boy Vincent Koziello getting our 2 goals in a 2-0 win (Koziello’s being the weakest goal of all time). We were through to the quarter finals!!! A superb achievement yet again, and I was thrilled to dream big,…until we drew English giants, Liverpool. Damn.
The league returned, and Chelsea came to Yorkshire. When looking through the fixtures, I’d allocated ideal amount of points from a run of games. Mark Hughes does something similar, breaking the games down into periods, and targeting a certain return from certain games. I envisioned nothing from Chelsea. However, the Chelsea game would be a surprise! We were incredible, and found ourselves 2-1 up by the 65th minute, both goals through Tom Bradshaw (Pizarro and Azmoun were still proving to be a bit…bad). Typical Chelsea however would ruin the party, and Conte’s men, Eden Hazard in particular, would make us hurt. He’d grabbed the first goal for Chelsea, and would grab their equaliser in the 82nd, despite me going ultra defensive! Bloody hell…a famous win was out of the picture now, we’d ran out of steam. Thankfully, we’d hold out, and a much welcomed point was gained.
We’d gained 2 points from 9. We were in 17th place…I’d not expected much from these games, but dropping down the league was tough to see. But at least we were in the quarter finals of a cup competition though, yeah? That’s alright…