If we lose tonight, we'll be seven points behind Barnsley albeit with a game in hand and that would be a big gap to close at this stage of the season. When we played them at home at the end of November there was a very unusual atmosphere in the East Stand as despite us leading 3-1, I and many around me were shitting themselves because Barnsley looked so threatening. If we play like we did against Wycombe, we'll definitely lose but I think we'll do much better and there'll be a lot of pressure on Barnsley too as if we win, we'll be only one point behind them with that game in hand. Lots of 'ifs' there but it shows how important this match is. I don't know how Flanagan is but we need him there to make that back four as solid as possible. Moore looked a great striker in the home fixture but he's injured though that hardly seems to have dented Barnsley's progress at all. I'll not be at the game so it'll be the internet for me. I'd be very happy with a draw and ecstatic with a win and my match prediction is: 1-1.
I got home just in time to get SAFSEE on and discovered that Baldwin was in and Flanagan out. We were playing in our black away kit and there was plenty of noise coming from the fans. The reception was on the wonky side and commentator Nick Barnes was sounding a bit like a Dalek at times. Leadbitter got a ticking off from ref Peter Bankes early on and Barnsley started to have the better of the attacking play, winning the first corner in the ninth minute after a bad clearance from O'Nien. We soon won our first corner following a Leadbitter free-kick but we conceded a foul and that ended that. We started to edge it and won three corners, the third of which came from a Power shot that Davies in goal did dwell to turn out. Leadbitter was booked for a foul on Green in the twenty-first minute so he'd have to go easy. It sounded very windy and that was likely to affect play. Luton went one-up against Bradford but I was trying not to think about them, for now – getting above Barnsley would do me. Gary Bennett said that O'Nien was struggling against Thiam, who I remember was a handful in the home game. Still, after half an hour it remained goalless and we were doing okay. A high and wide shot by defender Cavare was described by Nick Barnes as Nyron Nosworthyesque – it was good to hear Nos get a mention even if it was less than complimentary. We escaped with about ten minutes to the break when Barnsley hit the bar and it went for a corner. We sounded under the cosh and I was looking forward to that whistle. Barnsley continued to press a lot more than us but we made it to the break without conceding and that was satisfactory.
I reckoned it was going to feel a very long second-half and I'd be happy to lose our goal-a-game record if we could come away with a point. The wind seemed to be blowing harder than ever. In the first ten minutes of the half we held our own a lot better than we had just before the break and were defending solidly. Right on the hour we had a great chance when a Power shot went just wide of the post after good work from Baldwin. We moved into the ascendency for a while and the ref made a very strange decision when a Barnsley defender almost scored an own goal and when the ball went over the goal-line they were awarded a goal-kick. The wind was in our favour now and it was Barnsley's turn to look a bit nervous when the ball came swirling into their box. With a quarter of the game to go Barnsley had the ball in the net, their fans cheered but the flag was already up for offside. Williams replaced Green for Barnsley but with twenty minutes to go we hadn't made a change yet. I'd hoped Morgan would come on and cause terror down the wing and he duly did, for Gooch. I was finding it hard to stay in my seat and had to pace around the room. We won a few corners and with twelve minutes on the clock we were doing well with Dunne going close. There'd been little in the way of stoppages unlike last Saturday's match so mercifully we'd be spared a lot of added-time. Five minutes to go and I didn't dare to dream of a point. Less than two minutes to go and as Barnsley won a corner I could feel my heart pounding but Leadbitter got it clear. There were two minutes of added-time and we brought on Sterling for Power, who'd just been yellow-carded. Finally the whistle went and we'd won a vial point.