I should stay straight away that I’m not good at following us away. I don’t get to many and we don’t win many of them. Notable exceptions were Wembley, of course, but I have seen dismal performances at Doncaster, Chesterfield, Bradford, Huddersfield and Leeds to name just a few in recent seasons. I never seem to get it right. Not for me the glory, glory days and nights at Walsall, Fleetwood, Wigan, Preston, Forest and the like. I just don’t pick my moments. I was swayed yesterday by the fact that the team are doing brilliantly this season and the fact that work has caused me to miss four home games already. So, a nice drive across the southern Yorkshire Dales and into Lancashire seemed like a good idea. I was looking forward to the “Route 59” drive as much as the match that lay ahead. I was disappointed on both counts. On leaving Harrogate and beginning my climb towards Skipton the fog set in, and it didn’t let up all the way. It was bad by the sea as well and I had a brief walk on the front, as far as the Tower (only the bottom half of that was visible). I realised while walking back towards the ground, through the back streets of Blackpool, why it is that I have never been back since childhood. What an awful place! The shabby, charmless hotels and boarding houses, the filthy streets – all good reasons never to spend any holiday time there. I know that plenty do but the town has no appeal for me. At least Bloomfield Road has been spruced up and is now a very attractive ground. What a shame it was so empty. We all know the reasons for that but it must be so disappointing for the players having to rattle around in a decent stadium with hardly any fans. Apart from ours, of course – nearly three and a half thousand was an excellent following on a gloomy January day. But what about the match itself? I can hardly comment at all on the first half because I missed a lot of our forward play due to my unfortunate seating location. I was on the front row right next to that tunnel coming from turnstiles 9 and 10 so had two major sources of irritation to put up with. The first was the almost constant blocking of my view by stewards, safety officers, police and, of course, late arriving Barnsley fans who were still rolling in at nearly half past three. They, and others, compounded the problem by having long and loud conversations with the stewards about where to sit. It was a complete farce and yes, I know about the problems with people sitting in the wrong seats. Of course, I COULD have annoyed those behind me by standing up for the whole first half, but I didn’t. I’m considerate that way. It’s a shame that others aren’t. What I did see of our play though was pretty uninspiring. I blame the empty seats! From where we were there was a view of two completely empty stands and I had the impression I was watching a reserve game once or twice. The quality of football and the lack of atmosphere didn’t help. Maybe if we had scored a goal or two in that first half then the noise levels would have been cranked up and it would have been a different game. As it was I got the feeling that the only team that was going to score was the home side. Had it not been for a couple of well-timed tackles and some more brilliant saves by Davies we could easily have lost it. On the other hand, had our skipper taken one, or both, of those two good chances right at the end we would have gone home smiling. I suppose we should be grateful for a replay and a realistic chance to progress. But we shouldn’t underestimate our Fourth Division opponents, bad as they were at times. They could, and should, have scored a couple but their performance didn’t really warrant that. Their overall play was poor, I thought, and I couldn’t believe how hard this really good team of ours was making of the job in hand. We should have despatched them at the first time of asking. Doing it in the replay will not be straightforward. At least Gary Bowyer was gracious in his comments about us, acknowledging what a good side we are. He set them up to counteract our attacking threat and, to be honest, we were clueless about how to get round them, or through them. It was just about the most stumbling performance I’ve seen from us in a long time. There were some good bits though….but not many. I thought Hammill, for example, had his moments and I could understand his frustration at being taken off in favour of Kent. I wonder if there is something between those two – perhaps the older player resents his place going to an on-loan teenager who rarely justifies his place for me. Whatever it is, Hammill might just have burned his bridges now with another display of petulance. Had he at least acknowledged his manager going off and then ripped his shirt you might have forgiven him. But it was plain that he was furious about being taken off again. Who knows how this one will play out but I fear for his future now. Hecky doesn’t strike me as the type to put up with shows of dissent from his players so it could be a long spell on the side-lines for AH, or even a ticket out before the end of the month. He has had more than his share of problems this season and it has to stop somewhere. I know we can argue that he was just showing passion. I don’t think he was. As the whistle blew I had my eyes on Winnall and he made an angry gesture that could also have been passion, but I’m not sure about that either. By his standards he had a quiet game. He’s entitled to one now and then. He owes us nothing. We owe HIM plenty. He’s the first choice forward every week for me, but I think his time with us might be coming to an end. Much has been said about booing at different times. From where I was I didn’t hear any and I didn’t hang around at the end to applaud, or boo, the team off. I wanted to be back at my car and away before the rush so I was down the tunnel quickly. I just didn’t see anything yesterday worth applauding. It was one of those frustrating, annoying afternoons when you think “why did I bother?” That’s just my opinion. I didn’t enjoy it but it won’t stop me being at the next home game cheering them on. This team deserves nothing but praise for the last twelve months. Yesterday was…….well, an off day? The FA Cup not being so important? Players with other things on their minds? I hope we blast Fulham off their own park next Saturday and I REALLY hope for a good draw later today. Barnsley or Blackpool will play……..Arsenal [insert any big name].