Barnsley came from behind to win at Hillsborough for the first time in 11 years. First-half goals from Cauley Woodrow and Dom Freiser were enough to get the Tykes all three points and move them up to 13th in the table.
Despite the away side coming into the game on better form, many fans including myself were expecting yet another Barnsley defeat at Hillsborough as so often is the case. And early on things looked to be going in that direction when a shocking error from Jack Walton allowed Josh Windass to score.
Walton clearly was in a festive mood as he gave the hosts an early Christmas present as he totally missed the ball at the edge of his box following a long ball over the top by Bannan. The ball bounced beyond the keeper and Windass was able to pass the ball into the empty net for 1-0. A nightmare start for the away side.
Barnsley responded well after going behind and looked to get back into the game quickly. and that is just what they did as they soon got back on level terms. Just ten minutes after falling behind they were level thanks to Cauley Woodrow. And this time it wasn’t a penalty.
The goal came from a well-worked corner routine that left the home defence flat-footed. Matty James floated the ball into the front post and Mads Andersen flicked the ball across the goal. Wildsmith flapped at the ball and missed it completely which allowed Woodrow to head into the empty net from a few yards out.
Tony Pulis will have been ripping what little hair he has left out as the defending from the set-piece was poor. And as a manager who usually has his teams so well organised when it comes to set-pieces, it was a real surprise to see the away side score so easily from one.
The Owls did respond well to the Barnsley goal and applied a bit of pressure in an attempt to get back in front. The long throws from Paterson were causing a few problems for the defence and it was from one of these throws that Chey Dunkley almost profited but his header went wide for a goal kick.
The hosts’ pressure was short-lived though and it was Barnsley that took the lead with half-time approaching. It was a superb flowing move that saw Dom Freiser poke the ball home under the goalkeeper for his second of the season.
It was fantastic work from Matty James and Brittain who combined on the right before the latter fizzed the ball into Chaplin on the edge of the box. He cushioned the ball over the defence with the outside of his boot towards the Austrian forward. He took the ball down well and slid the ball under the onrushing keeper.
Barnsley saw the first half out well to go into the break 2-1 to the good. Almost straight after going behind the away side responded well. The first half had some ugly spells with a lot of long balls but it was the away side who provided the flashes of quality and deserved their lead.
Half Time Sheffield Wednesday 1-2 Barnsley
The home side started brightly after the break probably with the words of Pulis still ringing in their ears and they created a few early chances to draw level. The first fell to Kadeem Harris who hit a powerful drive across goal but it was well saved by Walton following a long ball played in behind.
The second chance fell to Windass, and again it came from a long ball forward. There was a slight slip by one of the Barnsley defenders which allowed the ball to bounce on the edge of the area. It fell to Windass who controlled and shot from the edge of the box but it was straight at Walton.
Barnsley started to get back into the game soon after those chances and had the ball in the net again but this time it was ruled out for offside. It was again good work down the right involving James, Freiser, and Brittain. The wing-back then crossed for Chaplin who bundled the ball home but he was a yard or so offside.
Barnsley soon threatened again and it was Woodrow this time looking to make it three. He found space on the edge of the box and fired low to the keepers left. Wildsmith saved well and the ball was put behind for a corner to prevent a red shirt from getting a tap in on the rebound.
The home side still posed a slight threat from counter-attacks and they showed this soon after the Woodrow chance. Harris got free on the left and he squared the ball to sub Pelupessy. The midfielder slipped as he went to shoot though but still did enough to force a corner.
Barnsley then really should have made it three soon after but Styles was unable to score from around six yards out. Sub Luke Thomas worked the ball well with the Bury Baggio Styles and they made their way into the box. Thomas then picked out Styles who beat one defender before smashing the ball over with his right foot from close range. A big let-off for the home side.
It was then the home side who came mighty close to scoring and they will still be wondering how the ball didn’t go in. Pelupessy picked up the ball some 25 yards from goal. He struck it superbly but Walton was somehow able to tip it onto the bar. The ball then bounced back off the woodwork and hit the keeper on the back before again hitting the post before it was scrambled away for a corner. A fantastic strike matched by a better save.
The hosts then threw all they could at Barnsley to try and get the leveller but to no avail. There was a late penalty shout when Jordan Rhodes went down in the box but there was very little contact so the ref was right to wave this away.
Barnsley dealt with the late onslaught of long balls very well and didn’t allow the Owls to create anything of note late on. Adeboyejo looked lively off the bench for the away side and held up the ball well in the latter stages.
The Reds held on for a deserved away win and a much welcomed one after so many defeats at Hillsborough in recent years. The home side stay bottom whereas Barnsley move up to 13th.
Full time Sheffield Wednesday 1-2 Barnsley
MOTM – Matty James