PNE fan John Roper has his say on the 0-0 draw at Barnsley
I suppose it is the higher level of expectation surrounding North End, at the moment, that fans were going away from Oakwell on Boxing Day afternoon bemoaning the fact we had only got a point.
In all honesty I think we could count ourselves a tad fortunate on the balance of play and for my money this was a point won and not two points lost.
North End were rarely in top gear on a cold South Yorkshire afternoon and although both sides went close it was the hosts who looked the most likely to score, certainly in the latter part of the game. We looked slightly exposed in some areas of the field but more concerning was the fact that we could hardly find a quality ball all afternoon to split a shaky home defence and mount some serious efforts on goal.
North End started quickly enough defending the end with the 1,938 North End fans in it. A couple of niggly fouls and soft bookings didn`t help the flow of the game and both sides struggled to get a grip of the middle of the park.
North End were getting caught down their left side quite often and it was thanks to the two centre backs that more was not made of Barnsley getting to our by-line. Hugill clipped the post with a shot on the quarter hour and at the other end the Tykes best effort came from Gary Gardner just five minutes before the break with a curling shot.
I thought Daniel Johnson was just lacking a little match fitness after coming back into the side and that Kevin O`Connor was getting exposed too often with Daryl Horgan, in front of him, playing quite high up the park. I must admit at the break, I thought North End would up it a gear or two in the second half after being very average in the first forty five minutes of this encounter.
Actually it was Barnsley who came out fired up immediately after the interval but North End settled down into the game which became very scrappy for a period.
Just after the hour Gardner was clean through only for Woods to make a superb tackle at the far end with all the travelling fans holding their breath in case the ref pointed to the spot. North End brought on Harrop, Mavididi and latterly Alan Browne but could not seem to make those decisive inroads even though Harrop ran 50 yards only to shoot narrowly wide.
Maxwell then made a fantastic save diving to his right after Barnes shot had looked like it was going in. Both teams scrambled for opportunities late on but it was North End who were the most relieved to hear the final whistle and take the point before moving on to Cardiff on Friday evening.
It was one of those games where you just thought a 0-0 was the right result with neither side really dominating or deserving to win on points.
It certainly didn't happen for North End on the day but I think three players in White who can take the most plaudits from the game are Paul Huntington, Ben Davies and the man of the match, once again, Ben Pearson.
Eight games unbeaten for North End in this current run and while this result was no by no means a disaster perhaps we will look back at the end of the season and say that if you have real play off aspirations then these are the sort of games you should be winning. It highlighted, if nothing else, the need to bring in that extra bit of quality in the Transfer Window to help push us nearer to our play off goal.