ALREADY on a horrendous run and now with a worsening injury list, the last thing Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom needed was an utterly pointless red card for one of his players.
Nevertheless, that is what French full-back Dimitri Cavare somehow managed to achieve on Saturday with one of the most stupid dismissals you are likely to witness.
The fact that his side were deservedly 1-0 ahead at that point against a highly-rated Fulham outfit, but then cruelly lost after conceding two stoppage-time goals, only served to compound the feelings of contempt towards the foolish 22-year-old.
Heckingbottom, whose side have now won just once in 15 games, did not need to say much afterwards; his feelings were obvious.
“He (Cavare) has let everyone down,” he said. “What I said to him and the players in there will remain private.
“But the pleasing thing for me is, apparently, before I got in, he was told by the players as well, which is what we’re trying to promote.
“We have to have trustworthy players in our side. We’re never going to have the budget or finances to compete in terms of attracting so-called top players in this league against teams and squads like Fulham so what we do rely on is everyone’s effort, work-rate and organisation.
“And everyone has to trust each other. If there’s no trust, big players can’t play.”
Barnsley had been playing perfectly well, with authority and enterprise in fact, before Cavare’s pathetic moment of madness.
Team-mate Stevie Mallan had already drawn a foul from Stefan Johansen in the centre circle, but when the Fulham midfielder said a few words to his rival, Cavare felt the need to stride over and shove him in the back.
What I said to him and the players in there will remain private. But the pleasing thing for me is, apparently, before I got in, he was told by the players as wellBarnsley manager, Paul Heckingbottom
Johansen fell into Mallan, clashing heads and ending up in a heap on the ground, all under the nose of referee Andy Davies.
Given Cavare had not long before picked up a yellow card for a foul on Ryan Sessegnon, you do wonder what must have been going through his mind.
Davies had to brandish another yellow card and then red.
Teenager Sessegnon, the 17-year-old left-back who is reportedly drawing interest from Mancehster United, Tottenham and Real Madrid, fired Fulham level in the 49th minute.
However, it was the 10-men hosts who actually looked more likely to score thereafter and add to Liam Lindsay’s scrambled 30th-minute effort.
It was a first goal in Barnsley colours for the talented centre-half – who is apparently being watched by Premier League Brighton – since joining from Patrick Thistle last summer.
They ended up with nothing, though, as Fulham struck twice in stoppage-time, captain Kevin McDonald bundling home in the ‘92nd’ minute after chaotic scenes and Sessegnon adding his second on the break in the 95th minute.
It was his seventh goal in as many games, illustrating just why he is one of England’s finest young prospects. While Premier League clubs perhaps contemplate multi-million pound offers for his services before Wednesday’s transfer deadline, Heckingbottom will look at the other end of the market for a centre-half.
Ethan Pinnock was missing on Saturday and the manager – who gave a debut to new signing Daniel Pinillos – revealed: “He broke a bone in his foot playing head tennis in rehab on Monday.
“Jacko (Adam Jackson) needed to go see a specialist, too, trying to get rid of things in the back of a knee so that’s two in the same position on the same day.
“I’m not sure how long they’ll be out. You’re always given the best and worst case and with the time (deadline) we have. we have to plan for the worst case. It’s given us things to think about.”
Amiens winger Harrison Manzala was in South Yorkshire for talks with Barnsley last week. but will not be signing as the Frenchman “wanted too much money”.
However, with his fellow countryman Cavare also automatically suspended for Saturday’s game at QPR, it is likely Heckingbottom will need to do some business before that deadline.
There was a minute’s silence beforehand on Saturday for Patrick Cryne, Barnsley’s revered former owner who is widely regarded as the ‘saviour of the club’ having rescued them in 2003.
A lifelong fan, he died recently at the age of 66 after battling cancer for over a year. In tribute to their former benefactor, fans poignantly bathed Oakwell in light by turning on their mobile phone lights in the 66th minute, singing ‘He’s one of our own’.
Barnsley winger Ryan Hedges, who came off the bench to return from injury, said: “He’s been a massive part of Barnsley football club and everyone joined together for what was a really nice sentiment. His family can be really proud of him.
“With the game itself, I’m sure fans would say we were a joy to watch before that red card, playing nice stuff. You can’t predict what would have happened, but with 11 men I think it’d have been a totally different game.”