REPORT: BARNSLEY 1-1 TOWNThe 4,619 Town fans positioned behind the goal that Town attacked in the second-half will wonder how their side didn’t score a winner at Oakwell on Saturday afternoon, with hosts Barnsley pulling off a plethora of goal-line clearances to earn a point.
The Terriers performed to a high standard once again to take the game to the hosts for large spells, only to be pegged back in the second-half when Marley Watkins levelled after Town led at the interval through Michael Hefele.
Goalkeeper Adam Davies was the home Man of the Match after keeping Collin Quaner and Izzy Brown at bay thereafter in exasperating fashion, with Town’s winning streak in the Sky Bet Championship ending at six.
Hefele’s goal was the 100th of David Wagner’s tenure at the Club – but it could have been more on the day.
Town enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening stages, picking passes through the lines in impressive fashion. One fifth minute move centered around Izzy Brown almost led to a great chance inside the area, but the Chelsea loanee’s final touch was just a little too heavy.
The Town fans behind the goal were in good voice as the Terriers continued to make the running – and made their feelings known when Barnsley dangerman Ryan Kent went down looking for a penalty in the area with Christopher Schindler nearby in the 14th minute. Referee Tim Robinson rightly waved away his claims.
Barnsley centre back Angus MacDonald did very well to block a useful-looking 20 yard effort from Aaron Mooy soon after as Barnsley struggled to get out and retain possession up front, leading to a change of shape from the hosts. That put big attacker Marley Watkins up against Chris Löwe, but the diminutive German gave as good as he got in every challenge.
The hosts did show impressive interplay when attacking on the counter, which led to yellow cards for Aaron Mooy and Tommy Smith in the first 45 minutes.
Hefele’s goal came in the 18th minute, starting when Kachunga was tripped by left back Jones as he turned infield. Löwe stepped up to shoot from range and saw his effort clip the defensive wall before drifting just wide.
Mooy delivered the resulting corner into the heart of the Barnsley area, where big Michael had stolen a march on his marker to run onto the ball and thump an unstoppable header past goalkeeper Adam Davies for his fifth of the campaign.
Barnsley looked for an immediate riposte, but first Ward claimed Scowen’s cross into the box and then former Leeds man Alex Mowatt mistakenly blocked full back Andy Yiadom’s shot after he drove infield.
Mooy delivered another dangerous free kick into the area in the 24th minute, with a defender getting a vital touch as top scorer Kachunga looked to take aim with a header.
Collin Quaner, in for the injured Nahki Wells, had a very impressive game. Running hard to put the centre backs under pressure in possession, he also held the ball up as well as he has in his early Town career to date, finding teammates with precision passes.
He also troubled the goal. First, he curled straight at the ‘keeper after Whitehead regained the ball after a Town corner was cleared and later in the half, he sent a back post half-volley over the bar when a set piece fell to him.
Barnsley’s clearest first-half chance came from a huge 26th minute long throw from Marc Roberts, with Ward holding MacDonald’s header at the second attempt.
Town had a big chance to extend the lead just after the half hour. Quaner turned and ran at the defenders before finding Brown right in front of goal with a clever reverse pass, but Davies was out sharply to smother the shot. The Terriers kept the ball alive and that gave Aaron Mooy a shooting chance from out wide, but once again the goalkeeper was equal to the effort.
Town’s defenders were kept honest at the other end, with a vital block from Schindler preventing Mowatt picking out the unmarked Armstrong in the middle.
Barnsley’s share of possession increased slightly in the second half and Town was dealt a blow when Schindler had to go off six minutes in, still feeling the effects of a first-half collision with Watkins.
His replacement, Jon Gorenc Stanković, played equally well and almost scored when Mooy’s 53rd minute corner fell his way. However, he was denied by the first of many second half blocks right in front of the Barnsley goal.
Quaner then turned home captain Roberts on the dead ball line right in front of the cheering Town support, but his attempted pull-back was blocked behind.
Barnsley responded by bringing on striker Tom Bradshaw and former Town winger Adam Hammill just after the hour mark and the latter caused a few issues. His cross from the Town left was partially cleared by Stanković, with Ward on hand to smother Watkins’ attempt from beyond the far post.
Town responded, with Brown’s hesitation when running onto Mooy’s well-flighted ball over Roberts allowing the goalkeeper to pounce before Stanković headed another corner over.
Unfortunately, one of several Barnsley free-kicks paid dividends with an equaliser with quarter of an hour to go. The hosts kept the ball alive after van La Parra tripped Yiadom and the ball was played into the area and Hammill was afforded too much time to cross for Watkins, who did well to steer the ball past Ward on the volley at the near post.
From there, it was almost all Town as the men in yellow and black searched for a winner. Barnsley did unbelievably well to keep the ball out in the 76th minute after Brown beat MacDonald to Smith’s volley over the top; he rounded the goalkeeper, but a defender got back to clear the ball as his shot looked certain to cross the line. After that, Quaner’s follow-up was also blocked by the ‘keeper.
Quaner’s booming volley from van La Parra’s cross with 10 minutes left looked certain to find the corner, but once again Davies came to the rescue with a diving save to his right. It was excellent technique from the big German; his first-time effort 20 yards out was excellent.
Hefele almost grabbed a second from an 83rd minute Löwe corner, but once again a block on the line stopped his goal-bound header.
Barnsley’s sole late chance came when a player turned another Roberts long throw towards goal, but the ball hit Ward’s chest before being cleared to safety.
Instead, it was Town who had the final chance in the five added minutes. Lolley wriggled past left back Jones before squaring perfectly to Brown, but the attacking midfielder was denied by another block on the line as he swept the ball goalwards.
Town’s team vs Barnsley (4-2-3-1):
Danny Ward; Chris Löwe, Christopher Schindler (Jon Gorenc Stanković, 51’), Michael Hefele, Tommy Smith; Dean Whitehead (c) (Philip Billing, 59’), Aaron Mooy; Rajiv van La Parra (Joe Lolley, 81’), Isaiah Brown, Elias Kachunga; Collin Quaner
Luke Coddington, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Martin Cranie, Jack Payne
Aaron Mooy (25’); Tommy Smith (41’); Dean Whitehead (52’); Philip Billing (68’); Isaiah Brown (90’)