Barnsley v Middlesbrough
Saturday 18th August 2012 3pm
Barnsley got their Championship season off to the perfect start with a 1 - 0 victory over Middlesbrough at Oakwell. Craig Davies` first half strike separated the two sides. A typical clinical finish from the reds striker set Barnsley on their way to three points and a clean sheet.
The performance and the game had everything. Barnsley played well and were good value for their win. The football was good, the work rate exceptional and the desire of every player was there to be seen. Both teams had chances and you could say Barnsley rode their luck a little bit in the second half, but both keepers made important saves and the Barnsley players were willing to throw their bodies in front of anything and everything to protect their lead.
Davies could have had a hat-trick forcing the goalkeeper in to some fine saves with his powerful accurate shooting. He also could have played in his team mates on a few occasions but instead opted to shoot, much to the frustration of his strike partner Harewood.
The game was fast and frantic from the off. Cywka`s, impressive on debut, delivery was chested into the path of Mellis by Harewood but Mellis slipped as he attempted to connect with the ball on two minutes.
Middlesbrough hit back when Bailey snatched wide and there were shouts for a penalty when Mellis appeared to trip Ledesma. The referee waved the appeals away. A lucky escape for Barnsley as most of the ground thought the ref had got that one wrong.
Foster nodded over from a header shortly afterwards, then Matty Done was forced off through injury and was replaced by summer signing Kelvin Etuhu.
The tempo inevitably slowed slightly and it was 15 minutes before another fell the way of Barnsley. Mellis fed the ball to Davies on the edge of the box but his shot was fired straight at the goalkeeper.
Young full back Stones, excellent all game, broke up a Middlesbrough attack. His pass found Mellis who in turn found Cywka, but the Pole could only direct his shot over the bar.
Leadbetter then shot wide from a free kick for the visitors but new signing Gonzalez in the Barnsley goal was still to be tested.
Barnsley took the lead on the stroke of half time from a great bit of play. Perkins showed tidy feet before slotting the ball through to Davies who hammered his shot into the bottom corner from 12 yards out.
Into the second half and Barnsley were picking up where they left off. Perkins put Davies in once again down the left. This time though he failed to beat the goalkeeper when one on one.
Two minutes later and Foster headed wide from a corner then Mellis saw his 25 yard effort drift wide after great build up play from Etuhu and Perkins.
Middlesbrough began to respond with a few long range efforts but Gonzalez was up to the challenge.
Davies was again denied by the goalkeeper with 15 minutes to go.
The reds were now beginning to tire and Middlesbrough were coming in to the game more. Dawson replaced Mellis in an attempt to retake control in midfield. Every layer had run their socks off and it was no surprise to see how many were gasping for the final whistle to come. The effort and determination however was still there and chances would still come for both sides.
Stones made a good run down the right and set up Davies but he again was thwarted by the Middlesbrough goalkeeper Steele.
Middlesbrough had a great chance to level shortly after but he volleyed straight at Gonzalez. Then Wiseman came to the reds rescue as the visitors had another great opportunity to level.
Davies then created an opportunity for Harewood but his strike was blocked by Williams. Gonzalez then saved from Hoyte when the ball fell loose at the edge of the reds box.
End to end stuff towards the end but Barnsley hung on for a victory they deserved. An excellent performance from the reds. Let`s hope they can keep it going throughout the season.