Allen happy after Brentford keep it clean again

Barnsley 0 Brentford 0

There were arguments from both camps for not playing this match and neither was made in retrospect, even though the tedium of the game made its own case.

Peter Ridsdale, the former Leeds chairman who now holds that position at Barnsley, reckons League One and Two clubs should be allowed international Saturdays off in common with their Premier League and Championship cousins, on the basis that televised counter-attractions have a negative effect on crowds. A gate of only 8,453 confirmed his fears.

Brentford were more directly hit, losing three players - the Irish midfielder Jay Tabb and the Jamaican duo Jamie Lawrence and Deon Burton - to international calls. It left their manager, Martin Allen, with only 14 fit players. "John Salako wanted a fitness test but I had to tell him he was playing, fit or not," Allen said.

In the event, Allen was delighted to go home with a point, his side having kept a fourth consecutive clean sheet. It left them nine behind leaders Luton in second place, but Allen is undismayed by the gap. "We can't really believe we are doing so well," he said.

"Normally, you have to wait for the second page of the Teletext table to find where we are. Considering that we had the three players missing, another four injured and had to take John [Salako] off at half-time, to come here and get a point is fantastic."

It did not look so fantastic from the home side's point of view. Paul Hart has encouraged Barnsley to embrace the same passing philosophy that initially served him well in his old job at Nottingham Forest. But he is having to contend with a crowd plainly impressed more by blood and thunder, a style in which the more delicate qualities of Michael Chopra and Daniel Nardiello are a little lost.

Some of the fans made their feelings clear after a disappointing defeat at Bradford last week, and Hart sent his sidekick, Andy Ritchie, to face the media yesterday.

"They could have done a bit more to help us today," Ritchie said. "The players don't set out to play poorly and they need some encouragement, especially at home. You want to entertain but it is not always possible." Not that Barnsley failed to make a chance. Stephen McPhail had a cross headed off the line before half-time, and the impressive Chris Shuker had a stinging shot beaten away by goalkeeper Stuart Nelson.

Ritchie felt Barnsley had a solid claim for a penalty, too, after Sam Sodje had brought down Fola Onibuje.

Then again, Ross Turnbull, the England Under-20 keeper on loan from Middlesbrough, pulled off fine saves from Alex Rhodes and Stephen Hunt, while Isaiah Rankin, the striker Arsenal sold to Bradford for £1.3 million in 1998, missed an open goal.

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