Barnsley 1 Chesterfield 1: Match analysis - Reds hang on to play-off hopes while Spireites are almost there

Barnsley's  Sam Winnall is congratulated by Peter Ramage on his equaliser. Photo: James Williamson
Barnsley's Sam Winnall is congratulated by Peter Ramage on his equaliser. Photo: James Williamson
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Following an entertaining stalemate with Chesterfield at sun-drenched Oakwell, Barnsley kept their Sky Bet League One season just about alive.

The Spireites are already in the third tier play-off positions, largely thanks to a four-game winning streak in the run-up to the weekend.

Jay O'Shea celebrates his goal giving Chesterfield a 1-0 lead. Photo: James Williamson

Jay O'Shea celebrates his goal giving Chesterfield a 1-0 lead. Photo: James Williamson

However, they were pegged back by a Reds team who showed plenty of grit and passion for the cause in bouncing back impressively from defeats at the hands of the Blades and Colchester.

The hosts had Sam Winnall to thank for rescuing a point with his predatory 11th goal of the season in the second half, so it’s as you were in that Johnson’s men are still seven points shy of the coveted top six, now with just four games to play.

Johnson clearly hasn’t given up hope of sneaking back in there, despite the odds being stacked against his side.

He said: “In the second half we gave it a right good go and were probably unlucky not to have gone on and won the game.

“And that’s against a very good Chesterfield side.

“We pegged them back in the second half and I think that shows great character.

“I’d probably still say the chances of making the play-offs were around five per-cent, but we’ve got to retain that belief.

“It’s been a little frustrating because other results around us went for us on Saturday, but the lads have shown real desire and commitment and I can’t fault that.

“Nobody has given up hope yet.”

It had been a miserable Easter period for the Reds thanks to those back-to-back defeats, so Johnson made three changes for this game against the in-form Spireites.

Mason Holgate, James Bailey and Milan Lalkovic were dropped to the bench following the frustrating Easter Monday loss, while coming back in were the rock solid Peter Ramage, George Smith and up front, Sam Winnall as he was tasked with joining George Waring at the sharp end.

While the Reds’ hopes of sneaking back into play-off contention had been jolted badly in the previous seven days, the Spireites were already sitting pretty in the top six thanks to a run of four straight victories.

There were no surprises from Paul Cook when it was revealed that he had stuck with an unchanged starting XI in the wake of Easter Monday’s hard-fought 1-0 win against Crewe.

It was a very evenly-contested first 45 minutes at Oakwell, though the Spireites went in at the end of it with the lead.

The only goal had come after 25 minutes, with the visitors punishing the Reds following some slack play from Conor Hourihane.

The Reds’ leading scorer saw his weak pass pounced upon by Jimmy Ryan, who surged clear before playing in Jay O’Shea. The Chesterfield wide-man took a touch before coolly striking a shot across Adam Davies and into goal at the far corner as he gleefully registered his ninth goal of an impressive season.

In the opening minutes it was Sam Clucas who was the major threat for the confidence-fuelled Spireites.

He forced Adam Davies into a superb point-blank save after storming through the middle to meet Gary Roberts’ measured pass.

At the other end Winnall crossed in for Waring, who headed inches wide at the near post.

To give the Reds credit, they responded well to falling behind.

Within minutes of O’Shea’s crisp strike the woodwork came to the Spireites’ rescue.

Ben Pearson swung in a corner-kick which was met by the head of skipper Martin Cranie, only for the ball to crash against the crossbar before being hacked to safety.

The Reds were revitalised even further after the restart.

Hourihane forced Tommy Lee into a super shot, while Winnall pinged a half-volley narrowly wide.

The hosts deservedly restored parity just past the hour mark.

Another corner-kick wasn’t sufficiently cleared by the Spireites’ back-line, the recalled Ramage crossed the ball hopefully back into the box, and there was the unmarked Winnall who guided the ball past Lee and into the net from 10 yards.

There were few further opportunities for either side to snatch a winner, though Winnall again forced Lee into action after he had met a smart lay-off from substitute Jabo Ibehre.

Ryan came closest to nicking maximum points for the visitors nine minutes from time when he met Tendayi Darikwa’s cross before side-footing wide from deep inside the box.

Despite seeing his side’s four-match winning streak ended, Spireites boss Cook was pleased with the outcome and once again insisted that his side need to simply keep their momentum going.

Cook said: “Like I’ve said a number of times already recently, we’ve just got to keep going.

“We’ve got four games left, but I still think there are plenty of twists and turns to come yet. It’s been that kind of a division all season.

“I’m really pleased we’ve kept our fans interested until this stage of the season. They’ve been brilliant for us throughout, they deserve success.

“There’s a huge prize there for us if we can keep this momentum going, but let’s not get too carried away just yet.

“We’ve had a really difficult game here. People might have thought I’d be a little disappointed following our recent run of victories, but Barnsley are a really strong side and tough to break.

“A point on the road at a place like this is a terrific result.”

MATCH STATS:

Barnsley (4-4-2): Davies 7; Cranie 8, Ramage 7, Nyatanga 6, Smith 7; Scowen 6, Pearson 6, Hourihane 5 (Berry 58, 6), John 8 (Lalkovic 85, 6); Winnall 8, Waring 5 (Ibehre 58, 6).

Subs not used: Dibble, Holgate, Hemmings, Bailey.

Booked: Winnall (78).

Sent-off: None.

Chesterfield (4-2-3-1): Lee 8; Darikwa 6, Evatt 5 (Raglan 37, 6), Hird 7, Talbot 7; Ryan 7, Morsy 8; O’Shea 7, Roberts 7 (Humphreys 73, 7), Ariyibi 5 (Harrison 70, 5); Clucas 6.

Subs not used: Flatt, Banks, Gardner, Gnanduillet.

Referee: Geoff Eltringham (County Durham).

Attendance: 11,268.