REPORT: Barnsley v Wanderers

Wanderers kicked off the New Year in perfect style with their biggest away win of the season propelling them back into League One’s top six.

The Whites ended Barnsley’s seven-game unbeaten league run to join the Yorkshiremen on 40 points and move above them into fifth spot with a superb performance at Oakwell.

After back-to-back draws either side of Christmas, Ian Evatt’s men needed to hit the ground running in 2023 to get their play-off push back into top gear.

Image removed.

And they did it in commanding fashion against a Barnsley side that played the best part of 80 minutes with 10 men following the dismissal of captain Mads Andersen.

The defender conceded a penalty at the same time and once top scorer Dion Charles tucked it away there was no looking back from the Whites.

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson added the second just before half-time and then after surviving a brief flurry from the Tykes after half-time, Kyle Dempsey guaranteed a fourth away success of the season as he rounded off a magnificent team goal befitting one of the midfielder’s best showings in a Wanderers’ shirt.

Wanderers made three changes to their starting line-up for the second of two games in four days, while there was also the welcome sight on the bench of returning defenders Ricardo Almeida Santos and Gethin Jones.

Image removed.

Kieran Lee took over the captain’s armband on his return to the team as Jack Iredale and Bodvarsson also earned starts.

And all three were involved in the ideal start for Wanderers.

It was a pass from Lee that released Charles for his first run in behind the Barnsley defence.

And while the striker couldn’t make the most of that chance, he had already served notice of a threat the Tykes struggled to deal with.

His next opening followed an excellent through-ball from Bodvarsson which Charles fired over the top under pressure from Liam Kitching.

Image removed.

But if the Barnsley defender got the benefit of the doubt over a possible pull there, Andersen didn’t when Charles got in behind the back line again following Iredale’s fine ball over the top.

The big Dane received a red card for his challenge which denied Charles the chance to shoot and from the penalty that followed, Charles kept him composure to drill home his 11th goal of the season.

For the second game running the Whites faced 10 men but after struggling to break down Lincoln and find a winner on Friday night, they were much more dangerous here in an impressive first 45 minutes.

Charles had another chance which he headed wide from George Johnston’s cross and five minutes before the break they got the second goal to earn some vital breathing space.

Image removed.

Bodvarsson has had a tough time since breaking his nose a month ago but showed great tenacity to rob Robbie Cundy and then react just in time to beat keeper Brad Collins to the loose ball and roll a shot into the empty net.

Barnsley looked to respond with their first effort of the half as former Wanderer Luca Connell forced James Trafford to beat away his fierce drive before Herbie Kane fired just wide.

But the Whites couldn’t have asked for much more and things almost got even better at the start of the second half as a thunderous Aaron Morley strike was blocked in front of goal in front of Wanderers’ massed ranks of travelling fans.

It wasn’t a done deal, though, as Barnsley were a dangerous animal with nothing to lose and their unbeaten run to try and salvage.

And from the hosts’ best spell of the game Trafford had to be alert to keep out an effort from James Norwood with an hour gone shortly after Wanderers’ first switch after former loanee Jones replaced the injured Iredale.

Image removed.

Elias Kachunga and Amadou Bakayoko soon followed in place of both goalscorers to provide some fresh legs as Wanderers looked for the third goal that would kill the contest.

And with 15 minutes to go it came in superb style.

Half-a-dozen players were involved in opening up the Barnsley defence for the tireless Dempsey to accept a return pass from Lee and slot home the goal his performance deserved.

It was then a question of whether Wanderers would get a fourth and even though the late pressure failed to yield another goal, the delighted Whites’ fans celebrated a potentially pivotal win to see in the New Year in the best possible way.

Image removed.

Wanderers: Trafford; Toal, Aimson, Johnston; Bradley (Sadlier81) , Morley, Dempsey, Iredale (Jones 56); Lee (Sheehan 81); Bodvarsson (Bakayoko 72), Charles (Kachunga 72). Substitutes: Williams, Almeida Santos.

Booked: Johnston

Barnsley: Collins; Cundy, Andersen, Kitching; Connell; Williams, Wolfe (Benson 66), Kane (Martin 76), Cadden (Larkeche 76); Norwood (Jalo 66), Cole. Substitutes: Walton, Moon, Ackroyd.

Booked: None

Sent off: Andersen.

Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge

Attendance: 13,913 (3,091 Wanderers)

Read Time: 4 mins