Report: Barnsley 1 City 1
Saturday 1 August, 3.00pm
Goals: Bogdanovic 83 for Barnsley. Petrov 88 for City.
A late goal by Barnsley followed by an even later one from Petrov provided a goalscoring ending to this entertaining friendly, where City showed signs of a team coming together as Kolo Toure was the latest debutant.
With pre season fixtures increasingly played on foreign shores as Premier League clubs seek to expand their brand, it was a pleasure to pay a visit to a more traditional home of English football. This latest friendly was apparently set up as part of the deal for Oakwell to host last season’s Uefa Cup “home” game against Streymur.
It’s not so long since we were visiting the Tykes in League fixtures, and it still feels a bit strange to be viewed as glamour opposition with our assorted multi-millionaires and Brazilian posterboy. Over 13,000 turned up and were treated to an open game with City’s stars showing some sublime skills if not much of a finishing touch.
Hughes played a 4-4-2 formation with Toure partnering Onuoha at the back. Nedum was again playing on the left side as our quest for a left footed centre-back continues. There was a welcome return for Richards after his bout of swine flu and he looked in good shape playing the full ninety minutes.
The midfield quartet of Ireland, De Jong, Wright-Phillips and Robinho asks a lot of the dutchmans defensive qualities and he proved up to the task. City started brightly knocking the ball about and controlling possession with everyone looking comfortable on the ball. Robinho looked fresher than in South Africa with his skills providing some early entertainment.
Bellamy’s willing running was stretching the defence and creating space for our other attacking players. With City over elaborating when they reached the opposition penalty area, it was only the Welshman who seemed willing to test Luke Steele in the Barnsley goal. A couple of efforts stung the palms of the Barnsley keeper. One such attempt rebounded to Adebayor who saw his first time shot halted by a brilliant reaction save that drew applause from Shay Given at the other end. The Togoese was also unlucky not to score when outjumping everyone at a corner.
Throughout the game, Bellamy ran the line well, providing a good test for the linesman as well as the Barnsley defenders. With the Welshman playing furthest forward and Adebayor not a natural tackler, this setup of the stirkers doesn’t provide much help for the midfield when we haven’t got the ball. It may be ok when we’re chasing a game or playing weaker opposition, but against teams that like to pack the midfield it would probably be a non-starter for me.
Credit therefore goes to De Jong and Ireland (playing as a box to box midfielder here) in ensuring we never lost control of the middle of the park. Barnsley’s chances came mainly down the flanks and it was again clear that a Garrido/Bellamy left flank just isn’t strong enough.
It was noticeable how the situation improved with the introduction of Zabaleta at left-back. With either Robinho or Petrov on the left wing, the competitive Argentinian looks better cover for Bridge than Garrido despite being right-footed.
As the first half wore on, Barnsley came into the game and started looking dangerous. For all Toure’s undoubted qualities we still lack height and an authority figure in central defence, particularly without the 6′ 2″ Dunne. Barnsley hit the woodwork and could have had a couple of goals, but thankfully we were spared the sight of Jon Mackem celebrating against us.
We reasserted ourselves at the start of the second half and an opening goal appeared only a matter of time. Adebayor hit the post following a delicious scooped pass from Robinho. The giant striker then resembled Bambi on ice as the rebound evaded him.
Bellamy and Adebayor are still to form a proper understanding, though Adebayor did put the Welshman clean through after 75 minutes. Bellamy slotted the ball past the keeper but just the wrong side of the post.
Ben Haim had replaced Onuoha at half-time and I was just thinking how he was looking every bit as good as Toure when disaster struck. In failing to cut out a through ball, he let Bogdanovic get away to show City’s strikers how to finish by flashing an excellent shot past Shay Given.
Barnsley fans celebrated raucously and the heads of the City players appeared to drop. The Blues picked themselves up and asserted some pressure with Weiss now on for Wright-Phillips. Finally Ireland put the ball across the box for the unmarked Petrov to finish from a couple of yards out.
That was just about it, and despite the scare of a near defeat I felt the team is starting to gel with Hughes having an outstanding assortment of players to choose from. I could watch them all day and just hope we get some decent results in the opening fixtures to keep the critics at bay.
A host of photos on barnsleyone.com
Fan footage of City’s goal