Football: Hignett seals Barnsley slog

Barnsley 3 Swindon Town 1
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The Independent Online
BARNSLEY, WHO had a bite on behalf of every underdog when they removed Manchester United from the FA Cup last year, earned a chance to get their teeth into more illustrious adversaries last night when they slogged past Swindon to reach the fourth round.

"Slog" was the definitive word because this was far from the comfortable passage that the scoreline might imply. Barnsley were hanging on for dear life during the closing seconds of this replay in the face of a ferocious Swindon fightback, until Craig Hignett's injury-time goal ensured they will play Bournemouth at home on Saturday.

In most matches Hignett's 25-yard shot would have been the apex, but the last 10 minutes became almost a demonstration of precision and power.

Mark Walters curled in exquisitely with five minutes remaining to temporarily give Swindon hope, yet even that was eclipsed by a thunderous thump from 35-yards by Martin Bullock. In the face of this, Sean McClare's opener for Barnsley after 55 minutes became almost an afterthought.

This match might not have been everyone's idea of the plum tie of the third round but it did have a distinguished precedent. In1912 these teams also played each other in the FA Cup, but then there was more at stake because their meeting was a semi-final.

Barnsley won that after a replay and went on to take their only major honour, which dated the occasion almost as much as the news of the day during the semi-final, the arrest of 126 women for two days of rioting and vandalism, as part of a protest organised by the suffragette movement.

You did not need to be fighting for the vote to feel like protesting during the first half, which had little of the passion you expect from this competition. A crowd of 10,510 - 5,000 less than the League average at Oakwell - did not help, but the players seemed strangely subdued too.

Swindon, who won 3-1 on this same ground last month, began brightly with Bobby Howe flashing a header just wide and Iffy Onuora's shot turned away for corner by Tony Bullock. With that they retreated into their shell, however, and it required Barnsley's opener to prise them from it again.

Hignett almost made that breakthrough when his free-kick after 50 minutes clipped the bar but it was only another five minutes in coming. John Hendrie hit a cross hard into the area and McClare, meeting the ball at full pelt, headed powerfully past Frank Talia.

That appeared to have decided what had been a tight game, instead there was an explosive finale. Bullock, Walters, Hignett: neither goalkeeper had the remotest chance of getting near the shots, never mind stopping them.

"Sometimes you have to hold your hand up and accept you were beaten by the better side," Jimmy Quinn, the Swindon manager, said. "I've heard Craig Hignett's name mentioned a few times tonight and he made the difference. He was the best player on the pitch."

Barnsley (3-5-2): T Bullock; Moses, De Zeeuw, Appleby; Eaden, Rose, Richardson, McClare, Jones; Hendrie (M Bullock, 73), Hignett. Substitutes not used: Sheridan, Tinkler, Marcelle, Leese (gk).

Swindon Town (3-5-2): Talia; Hall, Borrows (Cowe, 74), Taylor; Hulbert, Howe (Watson, 81), Leitch, Gooden, Davis (Walters, 62); Onuora, Ndah. Substitutes not used: Glass, Reeves.

Referee: P Taylor (Waltham Cross).