Barnsley 0 Newcastle 2 – Tuesday 18 October 7.45pm

Travelling down yesterday, my thoughts were with previous visits, and I reckoned this would be about my 13th visit to Oakwell. To be honest, victories have been few and far between, my only decent recollection was giving them a 5-0 thumping back in the early 80s.

I also have a vivid memory from about 1981 when as a young 17 year old I was caught in the middle of what can only be described as like a scene from the Wild West. Fans exchanged pleasantries with glasses, bottles, pool balls and pool cues – quite an eye opener, it made the front page of the Sunday Sun the next day.

Anyway times have changed, as has Barnsley, and it is now a very welcoming and hospitable place for visiting fans…..mostly!

Onto the match. Newcastle had packed out the visiting end, a full allocation of 5,901 taken up and seemingly in good voice, last time we were here we had a larger sold out allocation, so I wonder what had changed? The old stand to our right was only half open, seemingly it is on the way to being condemned and the part adjacent to us remained closed and fenced off.

Apart from this stand the ground is quite neat and its tightness does help create a decent atmosphere.

Our fans as normal were blocking the concourse and throwing their beer around,  maybe I am getting old but I fail to get that, given the fact the queue was half an hour I preferred to drink mine.

Once again Rafa picked a horses for courses team: Diame back in, Hayden back in and of course him with the magic hat!

The atmosphere as the teams came out was quite lively: plenty of noise, plenty of encouragement and then both teams contrived to dampen this by producing a distinctly average first half, a couple of half chances for both teams and a nitpicking referee were about all to write about. In all honestly we bossed most of the first half, however it has to be said the last 15 minutes Barnsley came into it and a snapshot flew just wide of Karl Darlow’s post, a couple of dangerous free kicks also coming to nothing.

Half time came and as expected Rafa made no changes. it is noticeable that when he picks a team he does stick with it, and why wouldn’t he, this man knows exactly what he is doing, patience is indeed a virtue.

barnsley 0 newcastle 2

News from Craven Cottage was also not encouraging as the Canaries had a comfortable half time lead.

People were still talking about the lack of changes from Rafa when bingo! One nil up. A corner from the right, a nailed on penalty turned down by the referee and the ball is suddenly in front of both Gayle and their goalkeeper – we all know who reacted first and cue absolute bedlam behind the goal.

I love the fact all the players celebrate as one and when it’s right in front of your nose it’s even better, as we all felt as one!

Has to be said that from this moment there was only one winner, we had a couple of half chances and then the second duly arrived. As Gayle was sent through and yet another 50/50 with the goalkeeper, this time outside the box, our star man of course got there first and the ball rolled slowly but beautifully into the empty net, more mass celebrations and bedlam.

A moment of amusement followed as Barnsley  made a change and the departing player had a huge public hissy fit at being hooked, starting with animated hand gestures, aggressively shoving the Barnsley bench man who came to escort him off, and finally kicking a crate full of water bottles, great stuff indeed.

From this moment we could have scored more, Gayle had one effort low down that produced a great save from the Barnsley goalkeeper, Rafa made some changes including taking off him with the magic hat, and bringing on the equally effective Christian Atsu…..I like him!

A word about Diame, for sure he is not playing well, but do we need to be on his back? I don’t think so. One or two things he tries are not coming off but for sure they soon will, give him some space guys.

News filtered through from Craven Cottage that it was now 2-2 and we were, and are, top of the league. I absolutely fully expect us to stay there until next May, when we will swap places with those from down the road.

Long celebrations at full time and then a walk back into town, where 99% of Barnsley fans were generous in their opinion of the game.

The one exception moaning about the fact that one of our players gets paid more than all of theirs, he moaned about the fact they get smaller crowds because they have about 25 clubs within a 50 mile radius , and he moaned about the fact …….well he was about to moan again until while walking backwards arguing with a Newcastle fan he fell over a traffic cone.

Not just fell over, as his foot was lodged quite tightly in it, cue for more mass giggles from both home and away followers as he stumbled around trying to get it off. His mates it has to be said had already told him to shut up, so to them it was particularly funny.

Anyway, into town and into the wonderful Barnsley ‘Old Number Nine’ bar, as much ale was had while home and away fans mingled and mixed and swapped stories, and occasional good natured songs. Hearing Fog on the Tyne sang in a proper Barnsley accent was indeed worth listening to, quite a change from 1981. The Yorkshire cider on offer was also very palatable.

A 45 minute wait for a taxi did little to diminish the good feelings and back at the hotel there was time for more drinks in the hotel bar, before realising I was at work today and eventually getting into bed at about 2am.

A very satisfying day indeed, more of the same at Preston please.

Here are the stats from BBC Sport:

Barnsley 0 Newcastle 2

Goals – 

Newcastle: Gayle 49, 68

Possession was Barnsley 51 % Newcastle 49%

Total shots were Barnsley 8 Newcastle 17

Shots on target were Barnsley 2 Newcastle 6

Corners were Barnsley 0 Newcastle 4

Newcastle starting 11:

Darlow, Anita, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie (Atsu 83), Gouffran, Hanley, Shelvey, Diame (Colback 90+2), Gayle

Unused Subs:

Sels, Lazaar, Perez, Yedlin, Mitrovic

Referee: Paul Tierney

(For the instant fan/writer reaction to last night’s win go HERE)

(Click HERE to see the fans’ player ratings and to add your own to our interactive system)