Internet Millers 1-1 Barnsley Supporters FC
BARNSLEY Supporters Football Club marked their first game under their new name with a continuation of their much improved recent form, achieving a very creditable 1-1 draw in a gutsy and hard-working performance against Rotherham's supporters` team.
The Reds, who had lost to Rotherham 3-0 just two weeks ago, were determined to produce an improved performance to build on their superb fight back in a 4-2 victory over Sheffield United.
With impressive new boys Chris Lee, Ian Grant-Sowden and Sam Owen unavailable, and new captain Jon Harper unable to appear, the Reds knew they would have to dig deep to achieve the result they wanted, and they did just that.
Both sides started brightly and played some very good football, with the first chance of the game coming from Ben Wanless whose header brought a fine save out of the Rotherham custodian.
While Rotherham enjoyed prolonged spells of possession, they failed to really test Barnsley goalkeeper Luke Evans in the early stages, though he did well to rush from his line and clear from the feet of the onrushing strikers on two separate occasions.
An early injury to Barnsley striker Simon Newey complicated matters for the Reds and despite returning to the field to try and continue during the first half, he was forced off at half time with a calf injury having received a kick from the uncompromising Rotherham defence.
The Millers had a disputed goal disallowed for offside, before Matt Goodwin forced a very good low save from the Rotherham goalkeeper after a jinking run.
Rob Pick shot narrowly over the bar from 20 yards before Rotherham struck with a classic counter-attack goal. Clever football through the midfield saw the Rotherham winger get in behind the right hand side of the Barnsley defence, and he made no mistake in slotting the ball past Evans to give the Millers the lead slightly against the run of play.
A cross from the right hand side shortly afterwards from Barnsley saw stand in captain, Phil McNulty's header cannon off the post, with an off-balance Wanless unable to convert the rebound from a narrow angle.
However, Rotherham fully controlled the last 15 minutes of the first half, keeping the ball tidily in midfield with Evans forced into a couple of good saves, and the defending of Alex Varley, Bill Redfern, Wanless and Josh Mills keeping the Millers at bay.
HALF TIME: ROTHERHAM 1-0 BARNSLEY
Barnsley made a tactical switch at half-time which paid dividends immediately in the nature of the game.
Striker Pick dropped back to join McNulty and Richie Brown in a three-man central midfield, leaving Goodwin up front alone to harass the Rotherham defence and allow the Reds to gain a foothold in the game. The move almost paid dividends quickly as Goodwin was able to turn inside the box, but was denied by a fine low save.
The Millers were no longer able to overrun the Reds midfield and the defence were protected, with Wanless and Stephen Holder repeatedly thwarting the Millers' infrequent charges into the Barnsley half.
A great turn on the left hand side by Goodwin saw him race through one-on-one with the goalkeeper and again the 'keeper was equal to his shot, blocking the ball away superbly. Rotherham were becoming increasingly frustrated as heavy tackles flew in, with Goodwin, Pick and Holder all recipients of crude challenges.
The Reds rallied together, but after Goodwin had rounded the goalkeeper and seen his goal-bound shot cleared off the line, and Chris Johnson's goal had been disallowed for offside, it seemed that their efforts would go unrewarded.
Rotherham were able to hit the post and the underside of the bar, keeper Evans made a fine save, and Richie Brown cleared a goal-bound effort off the line to keep Barnsley in the game.
They got the goal that they deserved through a moment of magic from MCNULTY with 10 minutes to go. Picking up the ball outside the area, he drove to the corner of the box. Seeming to have nowhere to go, the skipper brilliantly lobbed the ball over the 'keeper who could only watch the ball float into the top corner of the net. It was a fitting reward for a fiery and committed performance from the midfielder.
Rotherham rallied in the latter stages with Evans making several fine saves to get Barnsley the point that their performance definitely deserved.
FULL TIME: ROTHERHAM 1-1 BARNSLEY
Barnsley (4-4-2): Luke Evans, Josh Mills, Ben Wanless, Bill Redfern, Alex Varley, Jonno Smales, Phil McNulty (c), Stephen Holder, Lee Beard, Simon Newey, Matt Goodwin.
Subs: Richard Brown (on for Holder 15), Rob Pick (on for Newey 15), Kieron Brown (on for Beard 45), Chris Johnson (on for Pick 75)