Monday, 1 October 2012

A Red Perspective - Match Report: Barnsley 1-1 Ipswich

A Red Perspective

First Half:

A late equaliser from Stephen Dawson salvaged a point for Barnsley at home to lowly Ipswich this weekend, but it could - and probably should - have been so much more. The Reds went into this fixture on the back of a sublime 5-0 thrashing of Birmingham City at St Andrews last Saturday with adoring football fans around the country watching on in awe as Barnsley humiliated their underwhelming opponents live on Sky.

The home side were big favourites to win this contest after superb performances on the road against Blackburn and Birmingham, whilst the visitors were on a three game losing streak and had conceded eight goals in their last two outings away from Portman Road.

Ipswich started positively and showed their intent on not just rolling over for Barnsley - some neat football combined with a poor clearance from home debutant Tom Kennedy allowed Guirane N'Daw to try his luck but the Senegalese ambitiously fired over from 30 yards.

Barnsley played keep ball for a short two minute period early on but despite their tidy passing football, they couldn't find a gap in which to play through anyone and therefore continued to retain possession, going back to the defence on occasions.

Thanks to a woeful decision to award a free kick 25 yards out by the famously calamitous Trevor Kettle in only the sixth minute, the Tractor Boys took the lead, much to the shock of the home fans. A beautifully worked set piece from Lee Martin, Andy Drury and Aaron Cresswell enabled Drury to fool the onrushing Tomasz Cywka and lay off to Cresswell whose driven effort creeped under Ben Alnwick's body and into the net.

Any Barnsley attempt to push forward was well dealt with by a tenacious Ipswich defence looking to keep its first clean sheet in the last seven games in all competitions.

The Reds were playing some encapsulating football for small sections of the first half, but every time they tried to venture into the final third of the field, the physical centre back pairing of Luke Chambers and Danny Higginbotham comfortably averted all danger by outmuscling the likes of Chris Dagnall.

Ipswich were content with holding back and playing deep after going ahead, and their only real attacks after this came in the form of free kicks or the odd neat piece of play when journeying forward.

The workhorse that is Dagnall never gave up hounding the Ipswich defenders, pressuring them into resorting to negative long ball tactics - my thoughts are with the East Anglian fans who have to watch this week in week out.

With only ten minutes on the clock both teams had carved out chances but the majority of the play was in the middle of the park. Jacob Mellis was operating in his usual central role and pulling out the silky tricks to the delight of the home crowd.

Referee Kettle was fond of breaking up the flow of the game, awarding free kicks for the tiniest of nudges and disrupting the style of football the Reds like to play.

Whatever Barnsley seemed to throw at the Tractor Boys, they had it covered and the clear cut chances were limited for the home team who were below par up to just in this encounter after a fine run of magnificent performances throughout September.

Ipswich again attacked with confidence on the quarter of an hour mark and after a mistimed jump from stand-in captain Scott Wiseman, Ipswich were in and had veteran striker Jason Scotland bearing down on goal. He was quickly crowded out by a sea of red bodies however.

Ipswich were having most of the ball and only seconds after Scotland's chance, Daryl Murphy let fly with a snapshot from 20 yards but it lacked venom and Alnwick was grateful in collecting.

The visitors continued to extinguish every Barnsley attack carefully and were adamant in sticking to their long ball tactics, making it a difficult task for a team whose philosophy is based solely around slick passing football.

The Reds finally had their first shot of the game on the 20 minute mark but it proved no tough test for Scott Loach - the former England U21 'keeper saved Dagnall's strike comfortably after he worked himself into a dangerous position just on the edge of the box.

Two minutes later the home side were in again. This time it was the tricky Cywka who orchestrated the move with a delightful through ball into the feet of Dagnall whose misplaced cross was nodded away by the experienced Higginbotham.

This provoked a quickly executed counter attack from Ipswich who broke forward with Jason Scotland before the big striker cut in and laid off Lee Martin but the winger's effort was always rising over the bar.

After seemingly figuring out how to defend against Keith Hill's side, Ipswich had to cope with a few long punts upfield from Stephen Foster which will have been much to the gaffer's disapproval.

Favouring their left side, Ipswich continued to play down that flank in hope of exposing any defensive frailties they could find in Tom Kennedy - the new boy's preferred position is left back but Hill has had him operating in the right back berth so far.

After pulling themselves back into the game, the Reds were wasteful in their passing and on several occasions they lost possession when in good positions going forward. Cywka in particular was at fault a number of times - the 24 year old Pole was off the pace in Saturday's game.

Just before the half an hour point in the game Craig Davies tried his luck from just over 20 yards, but the Welshman could not recreate his heroics from last weekend at Birmingham as he dragged his shot a few feet wide.

Ipswich sustained their style of football and it was clear to see it was frustrating the Barnsley players. Furthermore, the route one play from the visitors was proving hard to deal with as the stocky Scotland's hold up play was fantastic thanks to his strength in abundance.

Barnsley were finally getting into the swing of things and the astute passing play was a joy to watch. Stephen Dawson was doing a marvellous job in the holding role.

Eight minutes before the interval Barnsley should have been level. Foster went up for an aerial ball and headed into the back of the net but the referee disallowed the goal, penalising the defender of impeding 'keeper Loach - Kettle was doing his best to make the Barnsley fans' blood boil.

The Barnsley faithful roared with ironic cheers on 40 minutes after the referee gave a rare decision in the home side's favour.

Barnsley went into the break feeling hard done by. They got back into the game after the early shock to the system and were undeservedly still behind.

Second Half:

Barnsley were invigorated going into second half and looked much more like the team that hammered Birmingham 5-0.

Ipswich came out and were much more physical in the second half, receiving the first of their five bookings on 48 minutes and rightly so as N'Daw recklessly tripped Cywka.

The Tractor Boys continued to frustrate Barnsley by playing very deep in their own half but Barnsley weren't just going to give up and resort to the long ball which Hill so regularly avoids.

The home side upped the tempo from the first half and some neat play and ingenuity from Mellis created another half-chance for Barnsley. Mellis' tidy through ball was just out of the reach of Dagnall and the onrushing visiting keeper grasped the ball tightly at the feet of the small Scouser.

Barnsley came out of the blocks with a real urgency but a breakdown in communication between Alnwick and Foster in the 50th minute gave away a needless corner which very nearly ended in the home side being given a mountain to climb as Alnwick did well to get down low to save Chambers' bullet header before Higginbotham's follow up was deflected wide.

Ipswich kept up their bullish style of play with goalscorer Cresswell going into the referee's notebook on 54 minutes after he hauled down Davies when the striker would have been through on goal.

Hill then made an inspired substitution bringing on local lad John Stones in place of Kennedy who'd had a solid game in his first appearance at Oakwell. This made something click in the team and the onslaught began.

Barnsley were swinging cross after cross into the box but Dagnall, only 5'8", was inches away from connecting on every instance, much to his own frustration.

56 minutes in and Barnsley had a free kick in a hazardous area but Davies wasted the opportunity and could only blaze his shot high and wide of Loach's goal.

Two minutes later Ipswich came extremely close to doubling their advantage when Lee Martin's acrobatic attempt bounced fractionally wide of Alnwick's left hand post after a long throw evaded numerous Barnsley defenders.

The Reds came their closest yet to drawing level when good vision from Dagnall allowed him to find the space to take a pass from Davies, and the small forward's left-footed effort trickled past Loach and rebounded off of the post only to be cleared by Higginbotham.

Stones' introduction to the game had injected a desire to win into this Barnsley team who were attacking with real energy and intent for lengthy spells of the second half but were unable to find a leveller or get past a stubborn Ipswich defence.

The home side were becoming increasingly angered by their lack of luck and midway through the second half, sub Danny Rose came agonisingly close to getting Barnsley back on level terms. Some silky footwork from Scott Golbourne and a switch on to his favoured left foot enabled him to send through Mellis who ran to the byline before smashing the ball across the face of goal only for it to pass Rose's foot by an inch.

Screams of handball echoed around the ground when Davies' volley seconds later appeared to hit an Ipswich man on the arm but ref Kettle waved away appeals for a penalty which further infuriated the Barnsley supporters.

Barnsley were camped in the visitors' half for a considerable amount of time in the second period and won a free kick in a menacing position when Chambers was adjudged to have felled Rose, but another lack in concentration - this time between Dawson and Mellis - gifted Ipswich possession but their resulting counter attack failed to threaten Barnsley's goal.

Dawson made amends moments later though, when he volleyed home a spectacular equaliser after an exquisite lofted ball over the top by the inventive Mellis. It was an acute angle for the Irishman but he did superbly to find a way past Loach. Barnsley were back in the game and deservedly so.

The home side were filled with confidence after that goal and the ox-like Dawson was growing stronger as the game ticked over. His determination to get the win and unquestionable work rate was a shining example to all modern day footballers.

Ipswich had a slight chance to pull ahead again with 15 minutes left when a fine run and equally good cross from on-loan Celtic striker Murphy was met by Nathan Ellington but the ex-Wigan man was always stretching and couldn't get a firm touch on the ball.

Barnsley again tormented the Ipswich defence with relentless pressure and they came excruciatingly close yet again when Mellis dispossessed an Ipswich body and Dawson marched forward before playing in Davies whose low whipped cross was completely missed by Rose who tried to convert with a cheeky backheel.

Seven minutes before the end Davies very nearly put Barnsley ahead with a stunning effort on the turn but the ball was comfortably palmed away by Loach.

Despite their endeavours, the home side could not find a way through and the constant pressure on Loach's goal produced some phenomenal saves from the 24 year old.

Full time at Oakwell and the game ended 1-1, but it should have been so much more for the Reds.

Dawson was instrumental and deserved his man of the match accolade.

Barnsley Ratings:
Starting XI:

Ben Alnwick - 7 - Didn't have that much to do over the course of the game. Made one wonderful save in the second half but his error cost Barnsley the points.

Tom Kennedy - 7 - Looked solid on his home debut but he didn't have the attacking intent that was need in the second half and was rightly subbed.

Stephen Foster - 7 - Like Kennedy, looked solid and had a comfortable afternoon. Was very unlucky to have his goal chopped off for an adjudged shove on Loach.

Scott Wiseman - 7 - Wasn't really noticed, which is a good thing when you're a centre back. He looks to finally have found his correct position in central defence.

Scott Golbourne - 8 - Posed a very real threat down the left flank and whipped in some fantastic crosses throughout the duration of the game. A very different player to last season.

Martin Cranie - 7 - Did his job well and anchored the midfield but it wasn't a stand out performance from him like he's put in before.

Stephen Dawson - 9 - A brilliant appearance topped off by a sublime finish. He got better as the game went on, never stopped running and rightly won man of the match.

Tomasz Cywka -7- Lacked a cutting edge and his head seemed to be somewhere else as a lot of passes were aimless and straight to a blue shirt.

Jacob Mellis - 8 - Another fine game from the attacking midfielder. Was the heartbeat of most moves and supplied a remarkable ball for the goal.

Chris Dagnall -8 - Never gave up as usual and was unbelievably unlucky when his effort cannoned back off the post. Had he been a few inches taller he may have had a hat-trick.

Craig Davies - 8 - Not quite the performance he put in last week at Birmingham but he had some very good shots saved well and played in some lovely crosses.


John Stones - 8 - Him coming onto the pitch changed the game. The team looked livelier and his forward runs caused panic at the back for Ipswich.

Danny Rose - 6 - Offered very little and needs to bulk up. He was never going to have it his own way against some very strong defenders and needs to cut down on the flicks as he lost possession a few times.

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