Date: 27th December 2007 at 8:18pm
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Stoke showed great tenacity to come back from a goal down on three occasions to take away a point from the Potters’ bogey ground in a game with so many talking points – most courtesy of some odd referring decisions.

Liam Lawrence scored the second hat-trick of his career with two penalties and a goal to emulate Ric Fuller’s hat-trick against West Brom just four days earlier, but the 1,500 Stoke fans had to wait until the 98th minute to get their well justified equaliser.

Oakwell is well known as a bogey ground for Stoke, they’ve never won away at Barnsley and the Tykes have been in fine form at home this season – unbeaten since the opening game of the season, so this game was never going to be easy.

The Tykes took the lead in the 23rd minute after Richard Cresswell was judged by the referee, Trevor Kettle, to have climbed on Barnsley’s captain, Brian Howard. But it took less than then minutes for the Potters to come back on equal terms, courtesy of another penalty decision from Mr Kettle. Ricardo Fuller caught Dennis Souza out by a neat dummy just outside the right hand goal post and was pulled down by the defender. Liam Lawrence had no hesitation in picking up the ball and fired it into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

Stoke continued to have a multitude of chances. Mamady Sidibe could have scored his first goal of the season but managed to head wide from only four yards out.

The second half saw Stoke continue to dominate, Liam Lawrence saw his a long free kick bounce off the cross bar and Sidibe and Delap also saw chances go just wide.

Barnsley, though, were looking dangerous on the break and went ahead after the Stoke defence failed to clear the ball from a corner and Macken headed it in from one yard out to give the home side a 63rd minute lead. John Eustace berated Steve Simonsen for the goal and with feelings running high, it took Ryan Shawcross to come between his playing colleagues and calm the situation down.

2-1 down and so it stayed until the 85th minute. Stoke fans had started to believe that the unbeaten run would be ended in deepest South Yorkshire when Lawrence gave the Stoke fans something to cheer. A text book one/two between Fuller and Lawrence from a Danny Pugh free kick ended with Lawrence burying the ball in the back of the net. With the Stoke fans celebrating at the far end of the pitch, Lawrence’s celebration at the other ended with a yellow card from Mr Kettle as he gestured to the despondent home fans. But they weren’t for too long. With Delilah still ringing around the away end, Barnsley immediately went back into the lead as this match seemed destined never to go Stoke’s way. Steve Simonsen made an uncharacteristic error as he failed to properly clear the ball and Macken fired home his second of the match.

Now it did seem as though it was not going to be our day…
Barnsley’s blatant time-wasting tactics were not wasted on Mr Kettle and he repeatedly pointed to his watch to indicate that time was being added on. The referee had wound up the home fans throughout the game with some dubious decisions against the home side, but he left his best ’till last.

Already well into the four minutes of added on time, Stoke had earned a free kick on the edge of the penalty area after Fuller had been upended by Stephen Foster, which earned him his second yellow of the day and an early departure. The free kick was taken and the referee spotted an infringement in the penalty area involving Jon Parkin, who had come on for Sidibe, and immediately pointed to the spot. Who, what and why is the subject of great confusion on both sides, but in this case, the Stoke fans at the far end of the pitch did not care. Liam Lawrence stepped up and fired the ball home from the spot and seconds after the restart the referee finally blew the whistle with 98 minutes on the clock.

Not a win, but a great draw in a match that both sides would have felt that they had every opportunity of winning. As it was, it was definitely a case of one point saved for the Potters in a thriller of a match.

Barnsley: Muller, Foster, Souza, Nyatanga, Van Homoet, Devaney (Hassell 90), Togwell, Howard, McCann, Ferenczi (Odejayi 81), Macken.
Subs not used: Johnson, Mostto, Ricketts

Stoke City: Simonsen, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Cort, Pugh, Lawrence, Eustace, Delap, Cresswell, Sidibe (Parkin 77), Fuller
Subs not used: Hoult, Zakuani, Pulis, Dickinson.