I don’t know what I’m going to say in this report, or how I'm going to say it. All I know is that I felt sick before the game and I feel even worse now.
It would be easy for me to just ramble on about how Barnsley’s a tough place to come and a point away from home in this league is never something to be disappointed with - all of those kind of cliches. But I just can’t do that, I can't. There’s a massive, humongous, ridiculously large elephant in the room and we have to address it. Sorry, Lucas.
Firstly though, a few errands to run. Barnsley were brilliant, and you can see why they’ve done what they’ve done in the last few months. It’s not a great spectacle, honestly it’s like a throwback to those seven-a-side games you had when you were six, seven, eight years old where someone would kick it, then everyone would chase it, then someone would kick it, then everyone would chase it - you know the drill.
They’re just relentless and never, ever stop. Don Goodman will certainly agree with me saying that. He bloody loves them, doesn't he? He loves them so much that it seemed he outright refused to acknowledge the fact that, despite Barnsley’s pressure and relentless game - the team they were facing were standing toe to toe with them.
It was the football equivalent of an unstoppable force moving an immovable object for the vast majority of that game. Barnsley being the former, and ourselves playing the role of the latter. Liam Moore in particular was phenomenal, and rightly walked away with the man of the match trophy. After the early loss of Morro (which is a huge, huge blow) Moore had to step up, and he did.
Not only did we negate the Barnsley threat in the first half in particular, we walked into half time with a 1-0 lead, thanks to a piece of brilliance from Ejaria that we just need to see more of.
The run, the touch and the finish all seemed to happen in one glorious, elegant movement as Ejaria produced a moment of sheer quality that we all know he's capable of but just haven’t seen anywhere near enough of this season. He’s got bags, heaps, suitcases full of potential, but will never reach it if he doesn't start finding some end product. That’s what he’ll get judged on at the end of the day.
Half time. Feeling good. Go and grab another beer out the fridge to keep that stomach settled (honestly I felt as sick as a dog before kick off, anyone else?). That good feeling even carried on into the second half, we looked solid in the opening 15 minutes of the second 45.
Holmes had slotted in nicely into what must’ve been like getting out of bed and getting thrown straight into six rounds with Conor McGregor. However, I think Yiadom took that metaphor a bit too seriously as he channeled his inner UFC fighter to bring down Styles in the box. Moore said after the game that he felt it was soft considering what had happened in the game before - perhaps, but if the ref sees it (like he did) he has to give it (like he did).
Mowatt duly dispatched the penalty - although Rafael could’ve, maybe should’ve(?), done better, and we were back to all square.
Now, back to that elephant I was talking about earlier. It’s currently sat in the corner of my room giving me daggers so I better talk about it.
Lucas Joao. Oh, Lucas. I want to console you but also scream at you in equal measure. I don’t even know what I'm going to say here, or how I'm going to say it but I’m going to try my best to amplify the potential significance of that miss (because that is one thing that just cannot be understated) while still trying to offer a fair share of sympathy - nobody misses chances on purpose.
I’ve given Joao the plaudits he well and truly deserves this season, we all have. But, I think everyone’s been a bit too scared to say this considering how good he was in the first half of the season, but the Joao we’ve seen since the Preston penalty miss (barring the Bournemouth game) has not been good enough. Nowhere near it. And this evening’s debacle epitomised his recent form and confidence in a way no words ever could.
He’s just so bereft of any confidence. He’s a shadow of the player he was in the opening five months of the season. It is important to not forget those five months - we wouldn't where we are without him - that’s an indisputable fact. But what is also an indisputable fact is we should be walking away from Oakwell with all three points. I just can’t believe he’s missed it.
At the moment it’ll feel like the end of the world, and we’ll all be thinking the worse - which is that miss has cost us the play offs. That could well be the case, but we won’t know that until after we play Huddersfield on the last day of the season. We still have seven monstrous games left, but this one stings, and will do until Monday afternoon.
That’s the grilling out the way, I don't want to go too hard on him because God knows some fans will be doing that job for me, rightly or wrongly.
Joao’s blushes were spared a tiny bit as Barnsley missed a couple of golden chances themselves, before having a goal disallowed somewhat controversially. I usually hate the fact that goalkeepers have become untouchable in the modern game, but I absolutely love it at the moment. Because if you think a draw is bad, a loss would’ve been a catastrophe of the highest degree.
I don't know how I’ve managed to ramble on for 1,000 or so words here, I thought I would’ve been genuinely lost for words - which I still am to an extent. The worst thing for me is that we’ve lost control of our own fate, we now have to rely on other results going our way and doing our own job. Doing our own job will be difficult too considering we still have some big teams to play.
Luckily, Monday will come around quickly. It’s a must win. Nothing less. When you combine our current position with our run-in, you will understand that we have to walk away from Monday afternoon with three points in the bag if we’re serious about the play offs.
Pauno has a hell of a job on his hands to heal the players after tonight, particularly Joao. God knows how he’s going to do it. I know how I’m going to heal myself though, and it involves an unhealthy amount of alcohol.