Analysis of Barnsley's final day 4-0 loss at West Bromwich Albion as their relegation season is completed.
SEASON FROM HELL FINISHES WITH HEAVIEST LOSS
This was the heaviest defeat of the worst season in Barnsley supporters’ memories – unless you were a youngster in the 1952/53 season and still watch the Reds.
They scored the fewest goals in 50 years, finished last for the first time in 57 years, collected the fewest points and wins in 69 years and lost the most away games in 92 years.
They won as many matches in this 46-game season as they managed in 20 days in February and March last season.
The relegation fight has been over for weeks, if not months, if not the best part of a year considering the catastrophic summer which set up a record-breakingly bad campaign.
They finish with five straight losses and a nine-game winless run, having been through two 13-game winless sequences earlier in the season, while they took just eight points from 23 away games.
It has been a horrific season and, despite problems gathering on the horizon, it is a huge relief that it is now over.
POOR PENALTY DECISIN
Barnsley had been just about staying in the game for 36 minutes, with their hosts missing some good chances but not tearing their last-placed visitors open as much as some may have expected.
But then Clarke Oduor kicked the ball away from the feet of Jayson Molumby who fell to the floor, with the referee Leigh Doughty inexplicably awarding a penalty. It was the second time he had frustrated Barnsley this season after awarding another controversial spot-kick against Brad Collins at Stoke. But this was one of the worst refereeing mistakes the Reds have been subjected to in recent years. Barnsley had not lost in six games Doughty had taken charge of and that would probably have changed regardless of this penalty, but it certainly made sure of it as it sucked a lot of life out of this young Reds team, who conceded a poor second goal minutes later.
SCORE COULD HAVE BEEN MUCH WORSE
Barnsley, with current caretaker Martin Devaney in the team, lost 7-0 at West Brom on the last day of the 2006/07 season and that scoreline could easily have been repeated.
The hosts – the 18th-highest scorers in the division – should have been at least 1-0 up before netting four times in 22 minutes either side of the break. Then, at 4-0, they hit the post, missed a second penalty – well saved by Jack Walton – and saw Jasper Moon clear off the line. The young Barnsley team deserve some credit for not totally folding but West Brom also appeared to lose a bit of interest and settle for four goals after the penalty miss.
Barnsley were very easily opened up, with their right flank particularly weak in the first half, while they were regularly exposed by simple long balls or passing moves up the pitch with no real resistance. Any pass beyond the Barnsley backline seemed likely to put a home player through on goal. The Reds’ only shots were weak efforts which did not threaten.
IMPOSSIBLE JOB FOR DEVANEY
With West Brom manager Steve Bruce closing in on 1,000 games as manager, Reds caretaker Martin Devaney was in his third. He has lost all three, conceding nine goals and the only goal scored being that wonderful moment for Aiden Marsh last week.
After the pathetic loss to Blackpool, the Reds have fought more in the last two games but have been outclassed and should have lost by far more.
It would be very harsh to judge Devaney’s coaching ability on these three games, with a totally demoralised team and the number of players unavailable into double figures due to injuries or loans ending.
The popular former winger and youth team coach has tried to make the atmosphere more positive with his cheery demeanour and giving academy players an opportunity. He sometimes favoured youngsters who may be released this week over senior players with several years left on their deals like Josh Benson and Devante Cole.
He is thought to be a candidate for the full-time job but the process is in the early stages and there are other options.
The Reds will now begin the challenge of finding a new manager, making up for the £7-8million relegation loss, and reshaping the misfiring squad ahead of an attempted League One promotion challenge.
YOUNGSTER PLAY IN ABSENCE OF MANY FIRST TEAMERS
Many Barnsley fans were in fancy dress, determined to celebrate despite the miserable season, and this team came dressed as a Championship side but the costume was not very convincing.
They have not been of Championship standard all season but recent injuries and withdrawals have left them as a young side full of commitment but nowhere competing in the second tier, and probably not the third without a good transfer window.
Cauley Woodrow was the only outfield player older than 22 in the starting line-up. Jordan Helliwell, who started for the first time, was on loan to seventh tier Basford until recent weeks and could be releaased in the summer.
The 11 that finished the game would have been classed as a fairly strong under 23s side, with Victor Adeboyejo the oldest and most experienced. When you consider that Peterborough, also relegated, thrashed Blackpool 5-0, this has been a pathetic way to slip out of the division and does not bode well for next season.
They were still backed by many of the Barnsley fans in the West Midlands. ‘Aiden Marsh one of our own’ boomed out from the away end after the teenage striker put in a big first half tackle. Then the 611 Reds supporters and players clapped each other after the final whistle. This was, by and large, not the team that has put the club in League One.