Friday, 21 March 2014

Cherry Chimes talks to on the Ponty End

Match Preview
Barnsley v AFCB
Blogger Interview - On the Ponty End

Cherry Chimes talks to On the Ponty End to see how Barnsley supporters are feeling as the season reaches its final quarter. Ian Wilkinson is happy to share some more of his On the Ponty end views and we have to ask the delicate question of  whether Barnsley are still hopeful of saving their Championship status and climbing off the bottom of the league.

CC: The season is nearing its closing stages but can Barnsley still manage a great escape like last season?

OTPE: The games are running out. There is a concern that we have really struggled on the road this season, having only picked up one win on our travels. As a result the pressure is really on for us to perform at home and get the points we desperately need. We can escape, but recent games have suggested that there's a lack of unity and belief behind the scenes. Unlike previous seasons, its that quality that's missing. It's a worrying situation.

CC: How do you feel the return of Danny Wilson has gone?

OTPE: Perhaps many of us had hoped to see a more attack minded set up on Danny's return, akin to the "Just like watching Brazil" days. But the fact is, he has had to roll up his sleeves and hit the ground running with much the same personnel used during David Flitcrofts tenure. There are some exceptions, Jack Hunt (arrived on loan from Crystal Palace), Liam Lawrence (on a free from PAOK), Emmanuel Frimpong (on a short term deal from Arsenal) and Nick Proschwitz (on loan from Hull City) but all have had stuttering performances and have failed to give the Reds the mobility we need in key areas.

Danny is well like by the Oakwell faithful. He's straight talking, determined and will do everything he can to keep our status in the Championship. Sadly, he may have been saddled with too much dead wood.

CC: How worried are you of losing O'Grady in the summer?

OTPE: Chris O'Grady has been a fine servant, after initially joining us on loan in 2012/13 from rival Sheffield Wednesday, he has often been MOTM and is the talisman behind some of our better performances. He deserves to play in the Championship and if Barnsley can't offer football at that level, I'm sure there will be plenty of offers. Should Barnsley be relegated, we would expect to see an exodus at Oakwell and perhaps that is what is needed.

CC: Is it the draws that have proved costly for your team and could you have easily won against Birmingham, Blackburn, Ipswich or Doncaster?

OTPE: At the end of the season you might look at those games as the ones that have hurt us this season, but overall you would have to say that our failure to win games away from home has been the biggest factor. Don't get me wrong, you don't expect to pick up many points on your travels when you follow Barnsley, but just three more wins would have seen us safely away from the perilous position we currently occupy. It makes our upcoming games at Yeovil, Charlton, Bolton and perhaps even Middlesbrough that much more important.

CC: The team's form since the new year has been fairly good, but the Huddersfield game must have been disappointing?

OTPE: In a word - YES. For the first twenty minutes we dominated possession and really bossed the game, but failed to finish any of our opportunities. There was also the unpleasant incident where Stephen Dawson and Brek Shea became involved in a fracas with Barnsley fans at full time. Suffice to say, Brek Shea departed shortly after with Wilson cancelling the loan agreement with Stoke City. Dawson apologised and made a substantial donation to Barnsley Hospice.

CC: What changes will the fans want if Barnsley don't stay in the Championship?

OTPE: Perhaps most supporters would want Danny Wilson given the opportunity to impose his philosophy on the team and begin a rebuild project based on building around the emerging talent we have within the club's own Academy. Of course we would love to see a wealthy local benefactor arrive on the scene, but the reality is we will have to cut our cloth accordingly and would expect to see lots of the current personnel exit before the start of the new season.

CC: Have you seen much you like about Nick Proschwitz?

OTPE: He's a real enigma to us all. At best he can be a real threat and has already scored some great goals for Barnsley, but sadly he's gone missing for large spells in other games and hasn't forged the kind of relationship with Chris O'Grady to make fans believe that he will make the difference in these closing games.

CC: AFCB only won by a single goal at Dean Court against Barnsley and you hit the post several times in that game from what I remember, so has the team's finishing improved?

OTPE: As was proven against Forest recently, Dale Jennings showed that we tend to score spectacular goals, but the fact is that only Charlton have scored fewer goals than the Reds this season. You would have to go back to October, in our victory over Middlesbrough, since Barnsley found the net more than twice in any League game.

CC: What is the Oakwell stadium like for visiting fans, do you get a good view, big scoreboard, cheap parking etc?

OTPE: The North Stand provides excellent facilities for visiting supporters. There's a good range of food and snacks available, plus bar facilities for those who might enjoy a pint or two before kick-off or at half-time. The view is unobstructed and you will be situated next to the tunnel, close up to the players as they arrive and exit the pitch.

There's no big scoreboard, but from what I've heard there is live coverage of the match streamed to the concourse in the North Stand for visiting supporters, which is especially handy if you need to leave your seat to answer the call of nature.

Parking is reasonably cheap throughout the town, but most visiting fans park right next to the stadium on the Queens Ground car park. It's just a few pounds to park there and offers quick and easy access to the ground before and after the match.

The Metrodome (Leisure Centre) is also based adjacent to the ground and they provide good facilities, including Sky Sports / Bar / Food etc for visiting supporters.

Sadly, the location of Oakwell doesn't sell the most pleasant aspects of our town. If you can, try and visit the town centre where you'll find the impressive Town Hall and Experience Barnsley Museum, plus lots of great cafes and bars too.

CC: Well I feel I know the Barnsley team and the town much better now. I get the feeling that Barnsley is a pleasant family club that is trying to do the right things but is like most clubs short of a bit of money to provide the football that it so wants to bring to Oakwell. Still your club has been hitting above its weight for a long time and is quite capable of beating any of the top six on its day so I don't see this as an easy game for AFCB who are struggling to bother the scoreboard at the moment. 

Make sure you visit Ian's fantastic blog as well for more information and comment on Barnsley FC - just go to On The Ponty End.

You can listen to more discussion on the Charlton v AFCB game by listening to Michael Dunne's All Departments' Kangaroo Court by visiting All Departments or by scrolling down the right hand panel on Cherry Chimes to the All Departments' sound bar.    

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