Bradford City v Barnsley: Derby washout leaves rivals fearing backlog

DELUGE: Barnsley's Reece Wabara leaves the pitch after warm-up during a thunderstorm, the match was subsequently postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
DELUGE: Barnsley's Reece Wabara leaves the pitch after warm-up during a thunderstorm, the match was subsequently postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
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BEN MANSFORD last night admitted both Barnsley and Bradford City are keen to rearrange the postponed Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie as quickly as possible to avoid a fixture backlog.

Referee Trevor Kettle pulled the plug on the match after an incessant downpour had left the Valley Parade pitch unplayable.

With the rain forecast to continue for at least a couple of hours, the 2,573 crowd were told just after the scheduled 7.45pm kick-off that the game was off.

Club officials met immediately after the postponement to discuss a future date. The Football League will be consulted this morning, with both Bradford and Barnsley keen to play the rearranged fixture next week.

Due to other commitments, the earliest alternative is November 10 – the scheduled date for the third round – and that is something Barnsley chief executive Mansford believes will suit neither club.

He said: “James (Mason, Bradford chief operating officer) and I will be at our desks in the morning, and in touch with the League as early as possible.

“We might have one (possible date) immediately, perhaps as early as next week. If not, the next free week is the third round date. That would put us a round behind.

“We will work with Bradford to try and avoid that. The issue is not wanting to get too far behind.”

Neither club had any problem with the late postponement, which came 45 minutes after a fierce lightning storm had broken out over Valley Parade.

By 7.30pm, gallons of water were pouring off the main stand roof and large puddles had started to form on the pitch.

“I can’t remember seeing rain like that,” said City manager Phil Parkinson.

“I was speaking to Tim Breacker, our chief scout, who was driving up to York v Doncaster. I was sat having a coffee in a cafe in Wetherby and he asked what the weather was like.

“I said it had been absolutely fine, but he said the rain had been going 10 miles an hour all the way from the Midlands.

“I thought at the time, ‘If that rain comes up here we could be in trouble’. Unfortunately, it did.

“The referee just called me in a couple of minutes before it was officially announced and said we could give it another half hour. But he had the forecast and the rain was due to be set in until midnight. He said that, as it stood, the pitch was a danger. One thing we don’t want – or Lee Johnson didn’t want – is to pick up a needless injury.

“It was a freakish deluge with thunder and lightning as well. We didn’t want to mess the pitch up.

“We feel sorry for the supporters who have come in and those who have driven up from Barnsley. But the most important thing is the safety of the players.”

As for a possible new date, Parkinson added: “We are just talking about that. We need to sit down.

“Julian (Rhodes, joint chairman) and I will have a chat and liaise with Barnsley to find a date that suits both parties.”

City are without a fixture this weekend due to the Blackpool game having been postponed after Rory McArdle became the third senior player to receive an international call-up.

Barnsley, meanwhile, host Crewe Alexandra on Saturday and manager Johnson’s response to last night’s postponement was to set off to Bury for a scouting mission on their tie against Morecambe.

Reds chief executive Mansford said: “Any pitch and any drainage system was going to struggle to cope and that is exactly what happened. As the players started to warm up, you could clearly see the amount of spray coming up. It just wasn’t safe.

“There was an agreement to give it 10 minutes but, in reality, the postponement was the only decision. Credit to Bradford for getting the vouchers to the fans so all those who paid can get in for the rearranged fixture.

“Anyone who attended will know the game couldn’t go ahead. Often the criticism in a situation like this is that a decision is not taken earlier.

“We had that at Charlton a couple of years ago in the Championship.”

City chief operating officer Mason added: “We do have some infrastructure problems around the stadium anyway.

“Getting out of here on a dark, wet evening, we had to consider that as well so I think it was the right decision.

“We do have a contingency plan and everyone left the ground safely with a voucher to enable them to come to the game free of charge when the date’s agreed.”