Football: Wilson brassed off with Barnsley

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The Independent Online
Leeds United 2 Barnsley 1

IT HAD been a bad eight days for Barnsley. Late goals had cost them points against against Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers and Leeds United and Danny Wilson had reason to curse King Lear-like at fate. Except the Barnsley manager was fed up with bad luck stories.

He was angry, only the target of his ire was his players. For the first time this season he did not buy the "plucky" label attached to his team. Lucky not to have conceded more goals maybe, but plucky, absolutely not. "We didn't deserve to get anything today," he said. "If we'd been five or six down out at half-time we couldn't have complained."

Had the players said anything? "They didn't get much chance to," he replied, hinting that the wall of expletives had been too high for protests to get over. "Amiable Danny" had turned into "Brassed Off of Barnsley".

With good reason. Through thin and thin Barnsley's players have fought like fury to overturn the expectation that they are heading back to the First Division. Limited they may be, but they would run through brick to preserve their cherished Premiership place. On Saturday, with Jovo Bosancic an honourable and tireless exception, it is debatable whether tissue paper would have been too thick.

Leeds played well, as Wilson conceded, but his careworn and battle-fatigued team had allowed them to shine. The only surprise had been that it had required a bullet-like header from Adie Moses into his own net for the home side to win.

Until then Leeds, whose plane made an emergency landing on Monday at Stansted Airport, appeared to have acquired a taste for near misses because Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink should have had a hat-trick, never mind his 21st- minute opening goal, while his strike partner, Harry Kewell, was denied by several excellent saves by Dave Watson.

Why had Barnsley been so poor? "We went into the game with a dozy attitude," Wilson said, "and if you're going to get anything out of a game you have to show some sort of commitment. Whether we have been believing the press - that everyone wants to keep us up and goodwill will pull us through - I don't know, but today should have opened our eyes.

"Now's the time we need that commitment because nobody is going to present us with wins. We have to fight for what we get. Results have been fairly kind to us today, nobody has cut us adrift, but we can't forever keep on thinking someone will do us a favour. We have got to start making sure we get points ourselves."

That would be easier if Barnsley could keep all 11 players on the pitch. The previous Saturday they had been incredulous that three players had been sent off against Liverpool and they were similarly amazed that Georgi Hristov should get a red card in injury time. Only this time they wondered how their Macedonian striker had been so dim.

To get booked for abusing a linesman is stupid enough, but Hristov compounded that by throwing in another swearword too many and converted yellow into red. For a man who has problems having himself understood in English it was a remarkable achievement. Perhaps he compared the official to the women of Barnsley, who he has famously derided in the past.

He left he field his head bowed as if in anticipation of having it chewed off by his manager. It probably was and deservedly so.

Wilson has ample striking cover but, after such a weary performance, it is difficult to be optimistic. As Hristov trudged off the pitch it was hard not to visualise Barnsley's survival hopes going hand in hand with him. The season's fairy-tale might not have a happy ending.

Goals: Hasselbaink (20) 1-0; Hristov (43) 1-1; Moses og (80) 2-1.

Leeds United (3-5-2): Martyn; Wetherall, Hiden, Molenaar; Kelly, Halle, Bowyer, Ribeiro (McPhail, h-t), Harte; Hasselbaink, Kewell. Substitutes not used: Hopkin, Lilley, Jackson, Beeney (gk).

Barnsley (3-5-2): Watson; Morgan, Moses, Jones (Fjortoft, 81); Eaden, Redfearn, Bullock (Marcelle, 78), Bosancic, Barnard; Hristov, Ward. Substitutes not used: Sheridan, De Zeeuw, Leese (gk).

Referee: K Burge (Tonypandy).

Sending off: Barnsley: Hristov.

Booking: Barnsley: Redfearn.

Man of the match: Bosancic.

Attendance: 37,749.