REPORT | Wanderers 2 Barnsley 3 (Agg 5-4)

Toal celebration Barnsley

Wanderers are on their way to Wembley!

On a nervy but ultimately magical night at the Toughsheet Community Stadium, goals from Aaron Collins and Eoin Toal were enough to secure a dramatic semi-final win, writes Pete Oliver.

And Ian Evatt’s side will now face either Oxford or Peterborough in the League One play-off final at Wembley on Saturday-week with promotion to the Championship up for grabs.

Leading 2-1 from the first leg Wanderers were briefly pegged back when Sam Cosgrove headed the Tykes ahead 10 minutes before half-time.

But the Whites – roared on by a magnificent and raucous home crowd – ­instantly hit back to lead at the break thanks to two goals in three memorable minutes.

Aaron Collins levelled it up on the night with a thundering equaliser from almost 25 yards before Eoin Toal headed home to put Evatt’s men in touching place of the final and a potential 90 more minutes from promotion.


Collins goal Barnsley

In typical play-off fashion it wasn’t that straight-forward, of course, as Wanderers missed the opportunity to press home their advantage just after half-time.

And two goals from Barnsley kept the outcome on a knife edge as the visitors secured victory on the night. 

A deflected Adam Phillips’ effort following some slack defending brought it level before the dangerous Cosgrove headed in his second of the evening to set the nerves jangling.

But Wanderers dug deep and showed their mettle to stave off a further goal which would have meant extra-time.

And having done enough over the two legs to secure a deserved victory, the Whites will now go to Wembley to try and take the final step on the journey to promotion.

It was an occasion that started at fever pitch in one of the most vibrant atmospheres at Wanderers’ home in recent memory.


Collins celebration Barnsley

An early goal would have raised the decibel levels even further and given the Whites a tighter grip on the tie following the late goal they had scored at Oakwell in the first leg and which was ultimately to prove pivotal.

Collins might have got it if he hadn’t been harshly penalised for a challenge on Mael de Gevigney when robbing the Barnsley defender to get a clear run of goal.

The in-form striker also brought a flying save out of Liam Roberts but any thoughts Wanderers would have a comfortable night were dismissed when Cosgrove – brought into Barnsley’s starting line-up after scoring their goal last Friday night – nodded home a cross from John McAtee.

That gave the Tykes a possible route into the tie, which then looked to have been closed off again when Collins thumped home his seventh goal in eight games and Toal headed in from a corner to keep the place rocking the Dion Charles-Collins combination had opened up the visitors’ defence again.

Had George Thomason converted an opening early in the second half, rather than try and pick out Charles, there may have been no way back for Barnsley.


Toal goal Barnsley

But a poor touch from Ricardo Almeida Santos allowed Phillips to pull a goal back with 25 minutes to go after his shot took a deflection off the Wanderers’ skipper as he raced across to try and make amends.

That still felt no more than a possible consolation until Cosgrove struck again, heading in a perfect cross from de Gevigney.

Suddenly Barnsley sensed a successful comeback and with nothing to lose committed men forward and looked to pepper the Wanderers’ penalty area.

There were a couple of anxious moments as the ball flew across goal but the Whites had enough resolve to steady themselves and the growing nerves.

And with five minutes of injury time safely negotiated, Evatt’s men were on their way to Wembley with the chance to achieve their promotion goal.

Wanderers: Baxter; Jones, Almeida Santos, Toal; Sheehan (Morley 84); Dacres-Cogley, Maghoma (Dempsey 76), Thomason, Williams; Charles (Jerome 80), Collins (Adeboyejo 80). Substitutes: Coleman, Iredale, Ogbeta.

Booked: Thomason

Barnsley: Roberts; O’Keeffe, Williams, De Gevigney, Earl, Cadden (Cotter 62); Collins, Connell, Kane (Grant 62); Cosgrove, McAtee (Cole 62). Substitutes: Killip, Russell, Jalo, McCart.

Booked: O’Keeffe, Phillips

Referee: Oliver Langford

Attendance: 24,518 (2,064)

Read Time: 4 mins