Barnsley bounce back to beat Blades
Allen Cooper reports on what happened when the hardcore faithful of both Barnsley and Sheff Utd met at Dearne Valley yesterday...
A SUPERB second half hat-trick from Sam Owen gave Barnsley a fully deserved comeback victory over rivals Sheffield United at Dearne Valley College.
The Reds trailed 2-0 at the break despite dominating large periods of the first half, but mounted a stirring fight back after the interval to eventually triumph in the scorching South Yorkshire heat.
Manager Allen Cooper made five changes to the starting line-up from last week`s defeat to Rotherham, with newly appointed captain Jon Harper among the players returning to action.
Barnsley were immediately in the ascendency in terms of possession and passed the ball around extremely well in sticky conditions. Simon Newey`s pace was a constant menace to the Blades defence and Phil McNulty and Harper looked to wrestle the initiative in midfield.
A number of half chances came and went for both sides, with one of the best falling to Ian Grant-Sowden but the striker couldn`t quite find the finish from a tight angle after doing well to work himself an opening.
The Blades took the lead against the run of play when the bounce from a huge long punt confused the Barnsley defence and the ball was expertly lifted over onrushing keeper Danny Haig by forward WILL STOREY.
The goal shook Barnsley after their good start and it wasn`t long before it got considerably worse. There was more than a hint of controversy about the second United goal as the referee inexplicably failed to spot that the ball had clearly gone out of play for a goal kick in the build up, before it was rifled home by full-back LIAM WASDEN from 12 yards after he had roamed up from the back.
The half time whistle soon went with Barnsley scratching their heads as to how they were going in behind.
HALF TIME: SHEFFIELD UNITED 2-0 BARNSLEY
The Reds made a spate of substitutions at the interval to freshen things up and give everybody a run-out, but it did not interfere with their continued domination of proceedings as they launched wave after wave of attacks on the United goal. They were finally rewarded when Chris Johnson flicked on an excellent left wing cross and SAM OWEN was on hand to rifle home from 12 yards.
The nerves began to jangle in the Blades rearguard and at this point in the game there was only one team in it. Barnsley continued to play the ball wide and use the flanks, and after United failed to deal with Johnson`s aerial presence once more, OWEN once again ghosted into the box unmarked to fire into the back of the net for the equaliser.
With the teams back on level terms, United tried their utmost to back in control but were struggling to get hold of the ball in midfield. When they did, the revamped back four of Josh Mills, Bill Redfern, Ben Wanless and Jonno Smales, along with goalkeeper Luke Evans, refused to let their opponents pass.
Meanwhile, Owen, playing on the right hand side of midfield, had seemingly undergone a transformation at half time, as he once again caused the Blades all sorts of trouble. Barnsley`s midfield once more won back possession and fed the lively attacker on the right hand side. OWEN wreaked havoc in the United defence by skipping past no less than three challenges before finishing with some aplomb past the advancing keeper. A peach of a goal no less.
The Blades summoned up some energy from somewhere after going behind, and just as it looked like their young forward was set to have a run in on goal, Redfern rolled back the years to deny the chance of an equaliser.
Both sides had strong penalty appeals throughout the game but the only successful one went to the Reds when Johnson was scythed down in the area after a tricky bursting run. To the astonishment of onlookers from both outfits, it was goalkeeper EVANS who stepped up with confidence to side foot home the spot kick to seal an outstanding win for the Reds.
FULL TIME: SHEFFIELD UNITED 2-4 BARNSLEY
Barnsley (4-4-2): Danny Haig; Josh Mills, Chris Lee, Ben Wanless, Alex Varley; Sam Owen, Jon Harper (c), Phil McNulty, Matt Goodwin; Ian Grant-Sowden, Simon Newey.
Subs: Luke Evans (for Haig 45), Bill Redfern (for Lee 45), Jonno Smales (for Varley 45), Kieron Brown (for Goodwin 45), Chris Johnson (for Grant-Sowden 45)
NB, Lee, Varley, Goodwin and Grant-Sowden all returned during the second half.