Tuesday 9 December 2014

Que Sera, Sera

Early kick offs are a double-edged sword for us south-based Exiles.

The agony of an early start and the possibility of scraping ice off the car windscreen, but home in time for Match of the Day. Throw in a twitchy Driver, who's heard rumours of a cone somewhere on the M1 near Kegworth, and wagons roll from Sussex at 7.30am in order to make the meeting point on the M40 at 9.45.

We're agreed that all we ask at Barnsley is a good day out, a respectable performance (goal-less for at least 15 minutes) and a rousing sing song. The Tykes' home form is patchy but they routed Burton 5-0 in the last round and our defensive display at Nuneaton doesn't bode well.  A Fulham-supporting mate tells me they have a lad called Trotta on loan at Barnsley and he's an Italy under 21 international. Kieran Charnock will have him in his pocket, I insist unconvincingly.

After rather too long at Cherwell Valley Services waiting for the meet (there's only so long you can spend browsing in Cotton Traders) it's a trouble-free run. We're parked and inside the Dove Inn, with its balcony overlooking the impressive Oakwell stadium, by 12.30.

It's good to see the Blues out in force again - there's even someone sporting a retro-looking Seals rosette (ask your Dad) - and a warm welcome in the pub despite the bizarre 'no singing' policy which is in operation. We manage to resist buying one of the 2014 Barnsley FC calendars which appear to be on sale behind the bar (unlike the £6 carvery, not good value).

We're all veterans of Blackburn in the Cup and, with claims of up to 3 million Cestrians on the march, determined not to be caught out again by crowd congestion. At the turnstiles by 2.30 but as it happens only 2,143 Blues turn up. It's still a squeeze. Health and Safety would have a field day but it's rocking.

15 minutes go by. 0-0. Job done in my book. Then it dawns on me - they're not very good and we're looking more than comfortable. Half time and we're looking the better side, unlucky not to score. No-one knows if Hobbo's header crossed the line or not. Second half and Mahony is roasting their full back. Kingsley is Kingsley. Gareth Roberts' sprint to win the ball deep in the Barnsley threatens to bring the roof down. I'm waiting for the inevitable harsh late goal but we hang on - Worsnop is immense. Chester heroes one and all and there's Steve Burr on the pitch playing air guitar. 

There's even a slight feeling of deflation, a sense that the game was ours for the taking and Barnsley can't be that poor in the replay, but I tell myself that's being churlish.

It's been another great FA Cup away day. It wasn't backs to the wall stuff, or kick and rush. Burry stuck to his principles and we're in the hat for the 3rd round. And I can't wait to tell my Fulham mate that his man Marcello Trotta played more like Del Boy.

Adrian Lee