Football: Ghosts of last season linger

Click to follow
Barnsley 2

De Zeeuw 22, 87

West Bromwich Albion 2

Sneekes 13, Quinn 45

Attendance: 18,114

ON first evidence Barnsley have failed to take on board the lessons of the Premiership short, sharp shock treatment. The very same innocence and naivety that dogged their season in the top flight was still evident under the new stewardship of the player-manager John Hendrie.

Arjan De Zeeuw's double-headed strike, a glancing and last-ditch thudded effort to rescue a point, was a timely reminder that Premiership quality still exists at Oakwell. Well-organised sides such as West Brom, though, will not be prepared simply to cushion Barnsley's return to earth.

The Belgian defender, however, also illustrated the problems Hendrie needs to address. He failed to protect the Barnsley by-line in the build- up to the second goal and his colleagues showed similar deficiencies throughout.

West Brom created a string of chances despite being robbed of the Italian pair Enzo Maresca, hampered by international clearance, and Mario Bortolazzi with a knee injury. But their manager, Denis Smith, was also left feeling that defensive lapses had ruined a solid opening display.

Smith said: "I was not happy with our marking for the headers but the second was a superb effort. You have to give credit where credit is due. The players are disappointed, which is important, as most people would have thought we would have been delighted with a point."

Hendrie, relieved to see the back of his first game in charge, was realistic about the short term. "The two goals were naive defending, which we have got to drum out of the system. I am delighted with the point and it will make people realise that when you come down, there are no foregone conclusions that we will go straight back up."

The opening fixture packed in a full season's thrills and spills. Barnsley's new Dutch signing Robbie Van Der Laan was a constant aerial threat at the back post and Jimmy Quinn chested his first header off the line.

West Brom opened the scoring when a tame Barnsley clearance fell for Richard Sneekes to lash a curling volley into the top corner. De Zeeuw hit back with a glancing header from a Darren Barnard free-kick and the same combination saved the day as De Zeeuw stormed into the area to cancel out Quinn's first-half goal, which came from a studiously accurate pull- back by Kevin Kilbane powering down the left flank.