SOMETIMES, IT is the hope that kills you.
In a city famous for its railway industry, Barnsley and Jose Morais reached the end of the line as their Championship status was abjectly surrendered in thoroughly dispiriting and submissive fashion.
After the fight of Brentford, Barnsley battled with blunt swords and papier-mâché shields eight days on with the main casualty being Morais, whose 79-day tenure as head coach ended after the final whistle with the Reds’ safety mission a failure.
The Portugeuse may have taken the rap for the club’s pitiful final-day capitulation and relegation, but while there is no doubting he should face accountability for his role in the club’s demotion, blame must be shared when assessing the club’s unedifying 2017-18 demise.
Reds chief executive Gauthier Ganaye did commendably face the music and front up in the aftermath of yesterday’s shattering events. Others are plainly culpable too for a thoroughly unsatisfactory season which has been an accident waiting to happen for the past year-and-a-half.
Decision-making, both on and off the pitch, has been open to censure during that largely wretched time and everything descended into this sad and painful conclusion on a disastrous afternoon in the East Midlands.
The 3,000-strong Reds contingent who had headed south with reservoirs of belief partially fortified after last weekend’s heaven-sent win over Brentford were chronically short-changed.
For those who watched back at Oakwell on the beam back, there was at least the minor consolation of not having far to go before being able to get home to slam the front door firmly shut.
Just 12 days earlier, Barnsley had travelled to the other end of Brian Clough Way and delivered a similarly rancid show at Nottingham Forest which prompted Ganaye to liken those who started the game to being ‘11 scared boys’.
Here, once again, it was men against boys. Getting relegated is bad enough, but going down without a fight is reprehensible.
The 3,000-strong Reds contingent who had headed south with reservoirs of belief partially fortified after last weekend’s heaven-sent win over Brentford were chronically short-changed.Leon Wobschall
On an occasion when character was in short supply from those in red and inspiration from the touchline was non-existent, the sight of Adam Hammill working frantically in a hopeless cause in the second half made for the saddest of the sights.
Out on his own after the final whistle, Hammill’s tear-laden goodbye to Reds supporters after making a beeline for them tugged on the heartstrings and it was hard not to feel for him in possibly his final outing for Barnsley.
Tough too for young goalkeeper Jack Walton, offered scant protection as Derby threatened to wrack up a cricket score in a party second-half for the hosts.
There was, briefly, ‘hope’ as the grapevine suggested Preston had gone back in front against Burton well into the second half – at a point when Bolton were also not winning. But it proved a false alarm, in keeping with an occasion that no-one in red will remember with any fondness.
The early omens did not look good with an alert tip-over from Walton denying Marcus Olsson, with the Rams showing danger on both flanks.
The warning was not heeded and while Barnsley got into some promising first-half positions, a poor decision and lack of quality invariably let them down. After Kieffer Moore failed to get on the end of Connor Mahoney’s cross, a moment of incisiveness at the other end dissected Barnsley for the Rams’ opener as momentum swung inexorably to the hosts.
After Mahoney was dispossessed, Bradley Johnson quickly supplied Cameron Jerome, who hared clear down the left before emphatically firing home past Walton.
It was a settler for the hosts, needing a point to clinch a play-off spot, and their experience, and quality contrasted markedly with the meek efforts of a young and inferior Barnsley side.
A handball offence denied Jerome a second after Richard Keogh’s effort hit the woodwork and the only saving grace for Barnsley was that the deficit stood at just one at the break.
Unfortunately, a second-half capitulation soon rendered any realistic hopes of getting a positive result as impotent.
Derby carved open the Reds rearguard almost at will with three goals in a golden 16-minute harvest leaving the visitors wholly reliant on events elsewhere.
Jerome got away down the right before teeing up a second home goal on a platter for Matej Vydra and it got a whole load worse when Vydra’s cross was latched onto by fellow substitute David Nugent, whose header deflected in off Zeki Fryers.
Broken Barnsley looked liable to concede at every Rams attack and the afternoon then started to assume nightmare proportions when Nugent set up Tom Lawrence for an all-too-easy fourth.
A rare moment of Reds’ quality not in keeping with their collective efforts saw replacement George Moncur curl home 10 minutes from time. But there was no cause for celebration.
The inquest now begins following a season – and 16 months – to forget.