Barnsley 1 – 1 Aston Villa
I’m bored with this now; it’s fast becoming the footballing equivalent of “Are we there yet?”
Another draw – the seventh of the season – and another late goal, the number of which I can’t be bothered to count; it’s too depressing. Melodramatic? Of course but this is football and hyperbole is never understated.
We were better than on Saturday but Barnsley are no Newcastle and as has been true too often this season, we were dragged down to their level. Goodness knows how the Tykes are this high in the table. I do know – they don’t draw their games, they win or lose. Split it 50:50 over ten games and you beat the total that 1 win, 7 draws and 2 defeats leaves you with.
Jordan Ayew gave us the lead with a fine strike, curling the ball into the net almost on the hour. This, having nullified Barnsley’s endeavour and crushed their enthusiasm, is how away wins are supposed to be built. It isn’t the best football in the world but this is a results-based business. And we need to start getting some. Soon.
As it is, I’ll settle for another point on Saturday with Preston and then a series of wins after the international break. I suppose the irony is that Barnsley’s equaliser came from Winnall. Unfortunately, it feels like we have his Russian cousin, Yurgona Winsodal, in our team. An unnamed sub, you’ll appreciate.
Enough. This is getting a maudlin. There were some encouraging signs from the performance, particularly that of Jonathan Kodjia. We’ve gone to enough stadiums such as Old Trafford, Anfield and the Emirates to know the value of a strong goalkeeping performance. Last night, the boot was on the other foot; Adam Davies had a great night for Barnsley, we need to acknowledge that.
That we recovered quickly from a poor first half against Newcastle is encouraging. That we habitually concede late on is a genuine concern. In the future, at some point you would think, it’s going to cost us dearer than just two dropped points.
It’s reached a point where the squad need to sort it out for themselves. Have a team meeting and thrash out the root cause. I know a new team takes time to gel but we’re not defending leads, habitually. This is about understandings, beyond not grasping tactics or your role in formations.
Defensively, Di Matteo isn’t innovative, he is merely following a theory he believes in but it’s not new. These players, some of whom have played in a back five before, need to get a grip. The lapses in concentration are the concern; it’s like losing, the patterns are repeated until the damage done is irreparable.
We’re not at that point now but goodness knows a win wouldn’t go amiss. A win this weekend at Deepdale would certainly bring the sun out, dancing over Villa with its straw boater and cane. Not to put too fine a point on it, we need to start taking three rather than one whilst the top of the table is still within our grasp.
Keep the faith.