Extra time

Where will your team finish?


With the season now in full swing, here's my predictions for this campaign, which will no doubt receive a mixed reaction depending on your allegiance.
Barnsley: I fear Barnsley are set for another season of struggle and, yet again, they are many people's tip to be among the division's basement boys. Keith Hill will not mind that, he will use it as another motivational stick to poke his charges with but after avoiding the drop last year on a technicality, I am worried that Barnsley's lack of progress over the past five years is eventually going to catch up with them. Poor form away from home will prove their undoing, along with a lack of goals and a defence that will ship its fair few. All ingredients for relegation I am afraid.
Final position: 22nd
Key man: Craig Davies - his goals will determine which league Barnsley will ply their trade in next term
Best signing: Jacob Mellis - bags of talent and a player that will prove a valuable asset
Sheffield Wednesday: This should be an excellent season for the Owls as they cement their place as a Championship side. Hillsborough will be key as very few teams will take points off Dave Jones's side in S6. This season will also give the powers-that-be a great insight into what will be needed for a promotion push next season. If the Owls boss can stop his side from hemorrhaging goals they may even gatecrash the promotion party, but his side's defensive frailties, aided by the acquisition of Chris Kirkland - arguably one of the worst signings of the transfer window, will prove Wednesday's undoing. However, a top ten finish will offer plenty of optimism for the future.
Final position: 9th
Key man: Miguel Llera - if anything should happen to Miguel, their lack of quality in the back four could cost the side a reasonable finish
Best signing: Jay Bothroyd - arguably one of the signings of the window - power, pace and goals in abundance - should finish near the top of the scoring charts
Sheffield United: League One this season looks set to be weaker than ever. With Huddersfield, Owls and Charlton all promoted last year, there is a distinct lack of quality towards the top end of the table. That should open the door for United to secure automatic promotion at the second time of asking. Nick Blackman looks to have the goals in him to fire United to the Championship and with six strikers all adding healthy competition for places up front, Blades manager Danny Wilson looks to have addressed the problem that proved so costly in the final three games of last season.
Final finish: 1st
Key man: Kevin McDonald - his presence in midfield was sorely missed last season during the run in, particularly in the play-off final.
Best signing: Nick Blackman - early indications are that he can more than fill the void left by top scorer Ched Evans.
Doncaster Rovers: Following the disappointment of relegation, I am expecting this one to offer the Keepmoat faithful a lot more to cheer. After the debacle of last season's transfer policy, this should provide Dean Saunders with the chance to really put his mark on the Rovers team. There looks to be goals in this side and in League One, that is almost enough on its own to win the necessary games to be up there. I feel they may just miss out on the automatic spots due to inconsistency in performance, but they will be the team to beat in the play-offs.
Final finish: 3rd
Key man: David Cotterill - excellent signing for league one and the flying winger should provide plenty of ammunition for the likes of Paynter, Coppinger et al
Best signing: Billy Painter - I love this signing. He proved with Swindon that he has the ability to score goals and lead the line at this level, and providing his unsuccessful spell with Leeds has not taken too much out of him - he could fire Rovers to an instant Championship return.
Rotherham United: The feel-good factor is definitely back in Rotherham following the flurry of new signings and the opening of the long-awaited new ground. The New York Stadium will prove to be the toughest place for teams to visit in League One and with plenty of experience in the playing line-up, Rotherham should be right in the mix for a top six finish. The pairing of former Barnsley striker Kayode Odejayi and Daniel Nardiello is a shrewd move. Nardiello should hit 20 goals this season, providing he can stay fit, while  Odejayi will lead the line superbly with his power and pace.
Final finish: 5th
Key man: Scott Shearer - the goalkeeper is well-known to manager Steve Evans but he has not yet endeared himself to the Rotherham faithful. If he turns out to be a duff signing, that could prove costly for the Millers.
Best signing: Daniel Nardiello - famously described as 'mustard' in the penalty area by his manager at Barnsley Andy Ritchie. The former Manchester United youth player is a class act at this level

South Yorkshire team of the year

Choosing this season’s South Yorkshire XI has been a tough one, with plenty of players deserving representative honours after enjoying seasons to remember.
However, after reading the tweets to @half_timerant and seeking the views of local sports reporters who have watched our sides in action all season, the final XI is as follows:


Lowton    Collins    Llera   Friend
Williamson    Butterfield     Gillett    Quinn
Madine     Grabban

Luke Steele: Barnsley’s player of the year has been instrumental in keeping the Reds in the Championship.
Matty Lowton: The Academy product is catching the eye of Championship and Premiership scouts following a stunning season of six goals and three assists from right-back.
Neill Collins: One of United’s standout players this season, leading by example at the back after a poor first season with the club last term.

Miguel Llera: Been a man mountain at the back for the Owls and has weighed in with some crucial goals at important times.

George Friend: The cool and composed left-sided player has improved the most for Rovers during what has been a difficult campaign.
Lee Williamson: A key player for the Blades this season – with 12 goals and five assists making him South Yorkshire’s most prolific midfielder.
Jacob Butterfield: His best season so far and the Reds disastrous second half to the season coincided with his season-ending injury in January. Seven assists and five goals have alerted Newcastle United.
Simon Gillett: During a season that saw many loan players pull on a red and white shirt, Simon has been Rovers’ Mr Consistency.
Stephen Quinn: Tops the League One assists chart with 14 and has also weighed in with four goals from his left-sided midfield position. Also made PFA team of year.
Gary Madine: Two goals short of the magical 20 in the league this season – his goals have been vital to the Owls in their push for promotion.
Lewis Grabban: Joint leading scorer in League Two at the time of publishing (one game to go) with 18. Attracting a lot of interest from teams in higher divisions.

Reserves: Stephen Bywater (Owls), Harry Maguire (Blades), Jim McNulty (Barnsley), Kevin McDonald (Blades), Jose Semedo (Owls), Chris Lines (Owls), Richard Cresswell (Blades), Craig Davies (Barnsley), James Coppinger (Doncaster), Danny Schofield (Millers), Johnny Mullins (Millers).

Players who are on loan or no longer with their club have not made the team.




No such thing as a one-man team

SHEFFIELD United’s defeat to MK Dons in their first game without jailed striker Ched Evans has led to yet more calls that United are a one-man team.

It is a ludicrous claim, as there is simply no such thing as a one-man team. The very meaning of the word team is a sufficient enough answer, but only Real Madrid and Barcelona have scored more goals than the Blades throughout Europe. That alone should suggest United’s second place position has been built around more than one man.

Yet, if the Blades are a one-man team for having a prolific goalscorer, then so too are many other clubs, including several on our doorstep.

If you take Ched’s goals away, the Blades, in all probability, will not be in second place. But if you take Gary Madine’s goals away from Sheffield Wednesday, the Owls won’t even be in the top six. Barnsley would have been relegated by now had Vaz Te not hit double figures during his short spell at Oakwell and where would Huddersfield be without the goals of Jordan Rhodes?

Would you label Barcelona a one-man team because of Lionel Messi, or Real Madrid because of Cristiano Ronaldo?

Strikers are bought to score goals, simple as that. They are the final piece in the jigsaw, someone at the end of a move that, nine times out of ten, starts with the keeper and goes through several other players before the ball finds its way to the foot of the front man.

There is no doubt that United will feel Ched’s absence in the final games of the season. If they fail to hold on to their second spot a lot of people will point to that fact as the reason. But if they are beaten into that final automatic spot, it will not be because they are a one-man team; it will simply be because they did not have sufficient back up in the striking department.


South Yorkshire's Premiership XI

WITH relegations and struggling finances painting the picture of South Yorkshire’s footballing landscape in recent seasons, the teams in the area have been forced to become selling clubs.

The Owls and the Blades have had to let key players go as the drop in divisions dictate cloths are cut accordingly, while Barnsley and Doncaster have used the loan system well to recruit top flight squad players on loan.

With that in mind, you could put together not only a very strong Premier League team, but a good squad made up of former South Yorkshire players that could well command a place in the top half based on this season’s form.
Below is my South Yorkshire current Premiership starting XI and squad players.

South Yorkshire’s current Premiership X1


Walker            Jagielka            Cahill          Naughton
      Walters           Britton           Whelan         Brunt

       Fortune           Holt

Paddy Kenny (QPR) Signed for United from Bury in 2002 – played 278 games

Kyle Walker (Spurs): Came up through United Academy and sold after just six games
Phil Jagielka (Everton): Came up through United Academy and sold for £4m
Gary Cahill (Chelsea): Had a spell on loan at United under Robson
Kyle Naughton (Spurs - on loan at Norwich) - Came up through United academy – part of Walker deal

Jonathan Walters (Stoke) – Joined Barnsley on loan from Bolton but played only 8 games
Leon Britton (Swansea) - Signed on a free for United but returned to Wales last season.
Glen Whelan (Stoke) – Joined Sheffield Wednesday on a free in 2004 – played 142 games
Chris Brunt (WBA) – Signed on a free for Wednesday and scored 22 goals in 137 games

Grant Holt (Norwich) – Signed for Wednesday in 2003 but only scored 4 goals in 30 appearances
Marc Antoine Fortune (WBA) – Short loan spell at Rovers in 2011 before WBA recalled him                                              
Squad players:

Ross Turnbull (Chelsea) – on loan at Barnsley.

Phil Bardsley (Sunderland) – on loan at Sheffield United
Matt Kilgallon (Sunderland) – Joined United from Leeds
Ryan Shotton (Stoke) – On loan at Barnsley
Joe Mattock (WBA) – On loan at Sheffield United

Bjorn Helge Riise (Fulham) – Sheffield United loan
Tom Soars (Stoke) – Wednesday loan
Diego Arismendi  (Stoke) – Barnsley loan
Nathan Dyer (Swansea) – Sheffield United loan
Adam Hammill (Wolves) – Joined Barnsley from Liverpool

Leon Best (Newcastle) – Owls
Chris Wood (West Brom) – Barnsley loan
Kenwyn Jones (Stoke) – Owls loan

Have I missed anyone out? And would you swap any squad players for the current starting XI?


  1. Can't believe the useless striker Wednesday got from Barrow and promptly packed off to Rochdale is now being touted for England. Fair play to Grant Holt, amazing transformation. Just shows hard work does pay off

    1. Agree - having seen his time at Wednesday not work out he could have easily thought his chances of playing at a decent level were over, so to battle back and enjoy the season he has had this year is a fantastic achievement.