Sunday, 19 August 2007

Match 1 - Barnsley

This is it. The start of the last season at Layer Road, and even the stadium announcer describes our little jewel as something less than desirable. A quick look around the ground shows us that it could do with more than just a lick of paint – the rusted grandstand structure, the crumbling concrete, the cables threading through the roof spaces, the nets to stop birds settling, the wooden shed that provides the terraces for visiting fans and temporary seating for a handful of lucky visitors.

The atmosphere is quite different to last season. There are several empty seats, and it does feel like just another Saturday. Mind you the opposition is only Barnsley. The travelling support amounts to less than 200 and they are all leisurely spaced in one half of the Layer Road End. One or two do find the integral drum kit at one stage during the game – the corrugated iron which is the back of the stand.

The safety announcement before the game and at half time was delivered in the usual manner, but the crackly quality of broadcast means that the overall score given to this aspect of the match is just 7/10. Hopefully the technology will be better at Cuckoo Farm.

Some pre-match facts which might influence the result:

  • Barnsley lost 1-4 at home at Coventry last week
  • we held the Premiership pretenders Sheffield United to a 2-2 draw after twice being a goal down
  • Barnsley did beat us 1 – 2 here last season in our second home match
  • During the last week we lost away in the Carling Cup to Shrewsbury, and Barnsley won at home against Darlington (both League 2 teams)

Well, Barnsley played for the most part of the game like a table football team. Not much creativity or movement from them and we had to gift them their two goals. In the first half our goalie Dean Gerken decided to take up wrestling with a Barnsley forward, conceded a penalty and got sent off. That meant we had to substitute one of our outfield players for another keeper – Mark Cousins, making his first team debut. Mind you Kevin Lisbie did look like he was playing table football too. In the second half Johnnie Jackson decided he needed to "make myself appear bigger" while charging down a Barnsley shot on goal and managed to increase his size sufficiently to get an arm to block the shot. Penalty number two. In between these two goals we played Barnsley off the park and managed two goals of our own from Sheringham and Connolly. Sheringham’s class was evident throughout and the Barnsley captain felt this was too much to take. He decided to throw Teddy in the corner (well, he punched him in the back of the head) a few minutes after we had taken the lead and he got sent off, which evened up the numbers.

The half time entertainment was quite varied today:

  • substitutes from both teams practising
  • meet the sponsors
  • a junior penalty shoot-out which ended in a 4 – 4 draw between Colchester and Barnsley fans (but we did field one 4 year old and one 5 year old)
  • a new competition to chip a number of balls over a wooden representation of a 4—man wall at a free kick. The two competitors scored 3 each, for yet another draw. Not sure if this is better or worse than the shed from last season!

The home fans were not in such good voice as last season but they saved their best rants for the referee who didn’t really deserve the compliments. The groundsman however did deserve the accolade given today. The pitch looked superb, quite lush and just like an expensive carpet. I wonder if he’ll be able to recreate this at Cuckoo Farm?

So, at the end of the day, another 2 – 2 draw and we can proudly announce:

  • we are unbeaten in the league,
  • we have two more points than we did at this stage last season,
  • we achieved a better result at home to Barnsley than we did last season.

1 comment:

TomTyke said...

Played us off the park??? Are you joking there mate? We totally dominated the first half especially and only one team looked like scoring. Your fans didn't sing at all, never mind at the ref, oh infact they did, about two songs after you scored. Also you stewards are pathetic. Nearly didnt let one of my mates in because he'd had a few pints, what do they expect? us all to be t-totalled?