Barnsley move within two points of the playoffs after yet another 2-1 win this time away at South Yorkshire rivals Rotherham. Well worked goals in the first-half from Cauley Woodrow and Alex Mowatt were enough to see them take all three points. Rotherham rallied after the break and had a good spell during which sub Michael Smith a former Barnsley loanee headed in a Dan Barlarser corner. The away side managed to hold on though and got yet another win under Valerien Ismael.
For a while, the game was in doubt due to a COVID within the Rotherham camp which had seen the last two games postponed. The home side under threat of a points deduction or possible fine were seemingly forced to go ahead with the game and could only name six subs on the bench. The first team they put out for the game did contain the majority of their strongest 11 though which did come as a shock to most home and away fans.
In recent weeks Barnsley have been guilty of falling behind early on and almost did the same again in this game. Within the first few minutes, a long ball forward found Vassell free down the left and the attacker struck towards the near post. Luckily for the away side, Jack Walton was alert to the danger and he tipped it wide for a corner. It was a good chance for the Millers and one they were soon made to regret missing.
Inside the first ten minutes, the away side took the lead and finally put an end to their curse of going behind in games. Mowatt picked up the ball in the middle of the park and then played a lovely left-footed pass through to the advancing Woodrow. The Tykes top scorer controlled the ball well got it out of his feet well and curled the ball left-footed into the far corner when through 1v1.
Just seven minutes later things got even better for the in-form away side when Alex Mowatt finished a lovely team move to double the lead. Woodrow had the ball on the right, he looked up and played a cross-field ball to Callum Styles who broke towards the box. The young wing-back got his head up and slid the ball into Alex Mowatt who curled the ball first time into the far corner from his wand of a left foot.
The lead was almost halved soon after though when the lively Vassell was able to out muscle Sollbauer down the left. He picked out strike partner Ladapo with a low cross but the Rotherham top scorer could not beat Walton who saved well at his near post.
Barnsley saw out the first half well after the Ladapo chance and went into the break well on top. They almost added a third with another good move which saw a Styles strike well saved, the offside flag was up though so it would not have counted anyway. Barnsley were comfortably the better side for the majority of the opening half with Rotherham’s main threat coming from Vassell down the left or by Barlarser from his set-piece delivery.
Half Time Rotherham 0-2 Barnsley
Barnsley started the second as they had ended the first and nearly pulled further ahead but the home side defended well on this occasion. Dom Freiser did well to get on the end of a Woodrow flick-on. The Austrian then cut back and delivered a cross which was knocked down for Mowatt to strike. His effort was blocked before another cross was fizzed in by Brittain. This found Adeboyejo who took a heavy touch before seeing his shot blocked.
Rotherham countered quickly directly from this chance and half-time sub Michael Smith tested Walton in the Barnsley goal but again he was able to keep it out. Smith was picked out on the right and his low strike was saved at the near post.
The Barnsley keeper was beaten soon after as Rotherham did pull a goal back early in the second half. It came from a Barlarser corner which had caused the away side problems all game. The former Newcastle man delivered an inch-perfect cross which Smith was able to head home from very close range to grab his third in as many games.
Rotherham went on to dominate the game after the goal for a good 10/15 minute spell as they looked to level the game. They should have been level but big chances went begging firstly for Ladapo and then by another sub George Hirst.
Ladapo was picked out by a deep cross into the back post, he controlled well but dragged his shot wide with his left foot. He really should have hit the target at least, one he will be very disappointed with.
Soon after Hirst was found free at the back post from a looping cross. The young striker on loan from Leicester was unable to guide his header in from close range. Again this was a huge let-off for Barnsley who were really struggling to regain control of the game.
Barnsley weathered the storm and managed to get a foothold into the game again and really should have gone 3-1 up but Adeboyejo fluffed his lines when through on goal. The big striker was able to get on the end of a Woodrow pass and he shrugged off the challenge of the defender. He had time and space to pick his spot but dragged his shot well wide. What a massive chance for his side to kill off the game but instead it kept Rotherham’s hopes of a comeback alive.
Barnsley’s defence gradually nullified the home threat, they dealt with the long ball really well and saw the game out without the hosts creating any more clear opportunities. Barnsley had other chances to extend their lead before the full-time whistle through a close-range Woodrow volley and a Styles strike from the edge of the box but in the end, two goals were enough to see them claim the win.
Full-Time Rotherham 1-2 Barnsley
MOTM – Alex Mowatt
The win was a third Yorkshire derby win of the month and this lifted Valerien Ismael’s side up to eighth, two points outside the play-off spots, while Rotherham slipped to second-bottom after a ninth defeat from 12 matches. Overall it was a deserved three points but things did get nervy just after the break and will be disappointed with the number of chances the home side were able to create especially in the 15-minute spell in the second half. For once Barnsley showed a clinical edge scoring with their first two shots on target and only really letting one big chance go to waste.