Football: Barnsley's balance

Barnsley 1 Bosancic 79 Blackburn Rovers 1 Sherwood 30 Attendance : 18,665
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The Independent Online
If playing spirit and spectator fervour count for anything, Barnsley may yet be safe. Their compelling revival at Oakwell yesterday eventually earned them a point which had seemed certain to elude them. Throughout the first half they were men playing from memory. Unfortunately it was the memory of being beaten 7-0 at Old Trafford the previous week.

To describe them as a dispirited shambles would be to lavish them with praise. It was not so much that Blackburn Rovers were clearly the superior team with the better ideas which they mostly put into practice by working their way behind Barnsley's defence on the flanks, it was more that they were allowed to construct attacks at will.

From the third minute when Tim Sherwood failed to get sufficient contact on a header which went wide, Barnsley were overcome by their opponent's reputation. They might so easily, as their manager Danny Wilson conceded, have gone in at the interval five goals down.

Instead Blackburn had to settle for Sherwood's stabbed shot from a messy corner in the 30th minute. This paltry return can not have worried Roy Hodgson's side much for they must have assumed that there was plenty more where that came from.

And then came the transformation. Barnsley emerged in rampant fashion. Suddenly they moved forward instead of standing back. Their fans, the most cheerful in the Premiership, urged them on.

Within 40 seconds Neil Redfearn smashed a volley narrowly beyond the left-hand post. Thus encouraged, his side increased the tempo and came back for more. Blackburn must have thought they were playing a different team. John Hendrie hit the side-netting and then struck a volley over the bar.

With 11 minutes left the Yorkshiremen snatched their reward. The ball came out from a corner to the Yugoslavian midfielder Jovo Bosancic playing his first match of the season. The air of expectation was palpable and Bosancic lived up to it. He rifled his shot low and wide of Tim Flowers inside the post.

With Barnsley, Sheffield Wednesday and Doncaster all shipping goals there must be a temptation for South Yorkshire leisure authorities to make them a tourist attraction. Barnsley, revitalised beyond measure for 45 minutes yesterday, may have to be withdrawn from the publicity material. "That was our best result so far," Wilson said. "We looked out of it, but it could have changed our season."

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