City 2 Millwall 2

Xavier Barrau emerged with the stunned air of someone who had just been handed a winning lottery ticket.

Clutching a bottle of champagne from the sponsors in one hand and scribbling autographs for the scrum of youngsters with the other, the Frenchman was struggling to take it all in.

"This is just from one match," he smiled, "can you believe it? I can't.

"I've been waiting for them to give me this chance and to play well and score two goals is fantastic. Now you can see the other part of the game which is a very good feeling for me."

The adulation in the car park was certainly something Barrau had not anticipated when he arrived at the ground. The winger only found out he was playing when the teamsheet was pinned up an hour and a half before kick-off. "We didn't know after training on Friday who would play. The manager told us to wait until the next day to see so I wasn't expecting it.

"I've not played for two months since I've been here so I thought I would be on the bench. If I came on for just ten minutes, I'd give my best, but I didn't think I would be playing the whole game.

"When I walked in the dressing room and saw my name it was great. I didn't have time to think or get nervous because I had to concentrate straight away on what I had to do."

Barrau, whose contribution up to now had been limited to a handful of minutes as a substitute, certainly put down a marker with his two-goal contribution.

And as the fans called for City to sign him up - he is one of the host of players now out of contract - it did beg the question why he hadn't been picked before.

Did David Wetherall regret holding him back?

"No, you make decisions and you stand by them," said the temporary chief, who left himself on the bench to field Matt Clarke in his natural central role. "But if he could promise me two goals every game then he would have been playing a long time ago!

"The shape of the side probably suits him. He'll be pleased with himself and rightly so and now we've got to look at his situation as we will with everyone who is out of contract.

"But the club need to make a decision on who the manager is before those decisions can be made."

It was an odd City side for what could turn out to be Wetherall's last game in charge. Both Spencer Weir-Daley and Billy Paynter failed fitness tests to force a frantic lunchtime rethink.

Wetherall came up with a line-up which included only one genuine striker in the 16 - untried 17-year-old Leon Osborne on the bench. Only four of the starting 11 had got on the scoresheet before.

The formation fluctuated between 4-5-1 and 4-3-3 with Barrau and Joe Colbeck on the flanks to support Omar Daley in the lone striking role.

It was an alien position for the Jamaican, who understandably took a while to adapt. With the absence of a targetman, the wingers often had to check and think twice before looking to deliver as the team got their head round the new tactics.

But as the game wore on - and thankfully improved ten-fold from a borefest of a first half - City became more adept and Daley started to revel in the responsibility.

He should have at least connected with Colbeck's low cross before the break but swished at thin air. But the confidence bubbled in the second 45 minutes, particularly when he got the chance to run at Millwall's backline.

The first half can be summed up in a couple of sentences. Donovan Ricketts was nearly embarrassed by the bobble from two Mark Bower back-passes and Daley wasted Colbeck's best ball into the box.

Then a minute before half-time, another Colbeck centre should have been dealt with by Danny Senda but the right back was caught napping by Barrau's anticipation and the quality right-foot finish was far too good for what we'd witnessed up to that point.

The goal livened everyone up, unfortunately including Millwall, who responded to a dressing-room rollicking from boss Willie Donachie by restoring parity within 55 seconds of the re-start.

Nobody picked up Darren Byfield except newly-arrived substitute Ben May and his pass was despatched with deadly precision for the striker's 16th goal in 32 starts.

Familiar misgivings briefly resurfaced in City's play and only the thinnest deflection off Clarke prevented Neil Harris making it 2-1.

Then Steve Schumacher fired wide beneath the Kop with the goal at his mercy, a blunder which provoked the only boos from an otherwise supportive audience.

Thankfully his miss was not too costly as City found their second goal within four minutes. A run from Daley, a neat interchange with Colbeck and Barrau had the straight-forward task of slotting home from 12 yards.

The club-record 12-game wait for a Valley Parade victory should have been over. But City went to sleep as Millwall won a free-kick near the corner flag and Brammer picked out unmarked defender Tony Craig for a soft equaliser. Daley almost spoiled his day late on after a City penalty appeal escalated into a bout of "handbags". Barrau claimed he had been tumbled over by keeper Lenny Pidgeley and suddenly a crowd of players became involved in a melee, during which Daley appeared to swing a punch at Marvin Elliott.

Referee Scott Mathieson showed some last-day leniency to only produce a yellow card but Wetherall wisely made an immediate change, bringing on Osborne to become the 36th different City player of the campaign.

The lowest crowd of the season - 100 down on Chesterfield in December - did not witness the first home win since that long-forgotten afternoon. But their response offered genuine hope for the future.

When Wetherall led his team on a lap of appreciation afterwards - it could hardly be termed a lap of honour - they were greeted with an enthusiastic bellowing of the City til I Die anthem. It should remind everyone that the fans, as much as those on the pitch, have a big part to play in the hoped-for resurrection in League Two.

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