Barnsley 1 - 3 Birmingham
A battling Barnsley display was not enough to take anything from high flying Birmingham in an entertaining and controversial encounter between two teams determined to go for victory.
Rob Edwards's with an unlucky own goal and strikes from Keith Fahey and Nathan Redmond secured the points for Birmingham, with Craig Davies on target for the Tykes.
The lively Chris Burke was a constant threat for the visitors throughout the game. His pace and direct play down the right hand side was a constant problem for reds left back Jay McEveley. Following an error from defender Jim McNulty it was from Burke that the opening goal came. His strike was turned in to his own net by Barnsley skipper Rob Edwards giving goalkeeper Luke Steele no chance.
The reds could have easily let their heads drop against probably the form team in the division, but refused to let the goal rattle them. They equalised through striker Craig Davies who netted his 10th goal of the season, following a summer move from then league two Chesterfield. Debutant David Cotterill picked himself up from a challenge and cut the ball back to Davies who fired in to the Birmingham goal.
Barnsley weren't on levels for long. Eight minutes later Birmingham took the lead through Fahey. He turned his man well before letting fly with powerful left foot strike that rattled the back of Luke Steele's goal.
Barnsley continued to push for an equalizer and were unlucky when Craig Davies hit the cross bar for the third time in as many matches.
The home team could count themselves unlucky not to go in at half time level following a bad offside decision. A good through ball put Matty Done through on goal and he calmly placed the ball past the Birmingham goalkeeper Myhill. To the amazement of everyone in the ground the assistant referee had his flag up and the goal was disallowed. Replays show he was at least two to three yards onside when the ball was played.
Following all Barnsley's grit and determination in the first half, the second half wasn't as evenly matched. As the game wore on Birmingham began to assert more authority on the game as Barnsley seemed to tire and abandon their usual fluent passing game for a more direct approach.
The extra experience and talent of Birmingham told when the visitors secured the points with twelve minutes remaining. Man of the Match Burke set up Redmond who finished emphatically with his left foot to give a deserved three points.
Steele 7 - Could do nothing about any of the goals.
Wiseman 6 - Not one his better games but kept to his task.
McEveley 5 - Given a torrid time by Burke.
Edwards 5 - Gave possession away too often with long punts from the back.
McNulty 4 - At fault for the opening goal and caught in possession too often.
Smith 6 - Worked hard in midfield.
Digby 6 - Impressive display on debut for the 17 year old.
Cotterill 6 - Faded as the game wore on, just needs match fitness.
Done 6 - A threat but spent long periods of the game not involved.
Dagnall 6 - Work rate justified selection over Gray.
Davies 7 - Scored, hit the bar, caused problems, let down at times with touch. Barnsley's star player.
Written by Dan Young
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