BARNSLEY are still without a win and without a goal this season after Southampton deservedly went home with the three points on Saturday to stretch their club record breaking run to eight straight league wins.
The Reds were second best throughout the 90 minutes as their best couple of chances came in stoppage-time at the end as they almost snatched what would have been a scarcely deserved draw.
For boss Keith Hill, it was another humbling after the midweek Carling Cup reverse at the hands of Morecambe, and he seemed to be at a loss as to why his team struggled so much when he spoke after the game.
“It’s not very good,” admitted Hill. “I’m bitterly disappointed but not angry. Southampton are an excellent side, but we just didn’t turn up.
“Preparations were good, but it’s on matchdays when you earn your money and we didn’t do that today.
“The Championship is tough, and management in itself is, but I’m wrestling with my mind a little now.
“We need a collective work rate and players need to turn performances around.
“We need honesty and for people to take responsibility.
“On another day we might have been looking at a defeat by three or four, perhaps that would have been a fairer reflection on how the game went.”
Hill made four changes to his starting line-up following the hugely disappointing Morecambe defeat.
The major change was an enforced one, however, as ‘keeper Luke Steele missed out for the first time since the 2009/10 season as he suffered a knee injury in the lead-up to the game.
In came his deputy David Preece to take his place between the sticks.
Scott Wiseman came back in to start in place of club skipper Bobby Hassell, while up front Ricardo Vaz Te dropped to the bench, leaving Craig Davies and Danny Haynes as the two-pronged attack.
The first half was dismal from the Reds. They went in at the break behind, having not tested Saints’ keeper Kelvin Davis once.
David Connolly saw an early shot deflected wide, before man of the match Adam Lallana headed past the post following an excellent cross from Rickie Lambert.
The goal – just before the half-hour mark - was a bad one for the Reds to concede.
Lallana’s cross wasn’t cleared sufficiently by Jim McNulty or Jay McEveley, leaving Dean Hammond to head into Connolly’s path and he pounced to nod home unchallenged from barely three yards out.
It was almost two shortly before the break as Connolly pounced on a poor McEveley header before volleying straight at Preece from 40 yards.
It was an audacious attempt which pretty much summed up Southampton’s dominance in the opening 45 minutes.
There were ironic cheers from the Oakwell faithful when Haynes finally tested Davis with a weak shot in the 48th minute, but normal service was soon resumed.
Guly Do Prado twice went close within the space of two minutes – first with a bullet header, then with a curling shot which flew inches over with Preece well beaten.
Vaz Te looked lively when he replaced the ineffective Nathan Doyle late on, and he crashed a powerful shot into the side-netting soon after entering the fray.
The Reds were offered hope five minutes from time when sub Richard Chaplow was shown a straight red card after leaving a foot in on McEveley, but even after that Lallana and Hammond ought to have wrapped up victory once and for all as they both fluffed clear-cut opportunities.
It was stoppage-time when the Reds finally came to life. In a frantic finish Vaz Te forced Davis into a cracking save, before two goal-line clearances saved the Saints’ day.
McNulty saw a cheeky back-heeler hacked off the line by Dan Harding, then following another corner in the dying seconds, Miles Addison’s similar effort was beaten away by Jack Cork with keeper Davis nowhere.
keith hill’s view
I wouldn’t do this job if I wasn’t to feel positive about it.
I’ll accept losing, as long as there is a desire to win there from the players.
To roll over at times and let opposing teams do what they want on the field is just not acceptable.