Football: Hignett on a high

Barnsley 3 Sheridan 14, Hignett 65, Bullock 88 AFC Bournemouth 1 Howe 51 Half-time: 1-0 Attendance:11,982
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The Independent Online
MEL MACHIN, the manager of Bournemouth, might have observed that moments of madness occur when Paul Alcock is about. Yesterday, the referee at the centre of the Paolo di Canio affair made his comeback at Oakwell and watched an aberration of a different kind turn this match.

Second Division Bournemouth had deservedly drawn level at 1-1 early in the second half and, after winning nine games in 10 immediately before yesterday's tie, looked as likely as the home side to go on and clinch a place in the fifth round.

But a fatal moment of hesitation or confusion involving the goalkeeper Mark Ovendale and the defender Jamie Vincent presented Barnsley's Craig Hignett with a gift goal. It sapped Bournemouth's spirit and lifted Barnsley's. It took until two minutes from time for the substitute Martin Bullock to add a third but such was the home side's dominance, it could have been more.

Alcock had been out of top-class action since Di Canio's shove on 26 September last year. While Wednesday's Italian has been sidelined since, Alcock has been recovering from back trouble.

He had tested his fitness by taking charge of Kingstonian's FA Trophy match with Kettering Town last Tuesday. Alcock takes charge of his first Premiership match - Nottingham Forest against Manchester United - on 6 February.

Yesterday's match represented a greater ordeal for Barnsley than for the manager. They had beaten Bournemouth 2-1 in the Worthington Cup at Oakwell in October but Ashley Ward and Jan Fjortoft, Barnsley's scorers that night, have left and Barnsley have found goals harder to come by.

Here they were forced to pair up the 35-year-old player-manager John Hendrie with the 32-year-old Don Goodman, on loan from the Japanese club Hiroshima, reviving a partnership that last saw service with Bradford City 12 years ago. However, a midfield containing Hignett and Kevin Richardson offered more promise.

Hignett's run to the by-line set up Barnsley's opening goal after 13 minutes, the former Middlesbrough man pulling the ball back for Goodman to shoot. John Bailey blocked Goodman's effort on the line but Darren Sheridan pounced to poke home the loose ball.

But Bournemouth were no pushovers. Moments before half-time, Mark Stein, the former Chelsea striker, almost equalised with a volley met by a save from Tony Bullock. Five minutes into the second half, they did draw level, Eddie Howe driving the ball home after Vincent's shot had been blocked by Richardson. Then came the decisive moment upon which Hignett capitalised.

Thereafter, Barnsley might have scored four or five, with chances for Sheridan, Nicky Eaden and the substitute Karl Rose before Hignett, superb throughout, broke down the right and squared for Bullock to put the issue beyond doubt.