Barnsley 2 Millwall 1: Hammill super goal wins it for Reds

Match winner Adam Hammill skips past Mark Beevers and Carlos Edwards. 'Picture Dean Atkins
Match winner Adam Hammill skips past Mark Beevers and Carlos Edwards. 'Picture Dean Atkins
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Brand new year, brand new Barnsley?

Lee Johnson will certainly hope so after watching his side battle their way to a precious three points over Millwall in their opening game of 2016.

Sam Winnall’s early header and Adam Hammill’s wonderful solo goal earned the Reds victory over a below-par Lions side.

Hammill’s strike came midway through the second half and was a thing of beauty.

The winger jinked and meandered his way brilliantly past a sea of Millwall defenders before coolly slotting home the winner.

Reds boss Johnson said the win shows his side’s battling qualities are there for all to see.

He said: “We showed real commitment today. We knew Millwall would throw everything at us but I thought we defended very well and stood up to it.

“We cleared a couple off the line but could have been out of sight before then.

“We’ve had numerous chances but I also though we defended very, very well.

“It’s all coming together slowly for us. We’re trying to get into this mentality now where we keep playing our game.”

For much of the contest the hosts had to scrap but if they are to be in a relegation dogfight then this game showed they are ready to roll their sleeves up and fight.

Lloyd Isgrove had the first chance of a miserable, soggy afternoon at Oakwell.

The Southampton loanee was put through excellently by Ben Pearson, another loanee who Johnson confirmed afterwards has played his last game for the club.

However, Millwall’s ‘keeper David Forde did well to rush out and smother Isgrove’s shot away from danger.

With confidence flowing after Monday’s 4-2 win over Blackpool, the Reds went into a 12th-minute lead and it was Winnall who notched his tenth of the season.

Hammill’s inswinging cross picked out Winnall who glanced his header beyond Forde.

Isgrove then thought he had doubled the hosts’ lead but he was adjudged to have fouled a visiting defender on his way to heading the ball past Forde.

Winnall then went close again when he surged through on goal only to be denied by a last-ditch tackle from Joe Martin inside the box.

The rest of the half was a scrappy affair with the conditions only getting worse as the half progressed.

Millwall chief Neil Harris made two half-time subs and one of them, Shane Ferguson, made an instant impact.

Ferguson expertly picked out Steve Morison at the back post and although his header beat home stopper Adam Davies, it was brilliantly hacked off the line by Alfie Mawson to preserve the Reds’ lead.

The Reds then had two glorious chances to make it 2-0 but both were kept out by the busy Forde.

First, Hammill’s free-kick from close-range was kept out before Winnall was denied by the Ireland international’s legs.

A one-goal buffer is never enough in football and the Reds were made to rue those misses when Millwall levelled just after the hour mark.

Full-back Joe Martin was allowed to wander forward and his crisp shot struck a post.

However, the home backline didn’t react quickly enough and Morison was on hand to bundle in the equaliser. In truth it was an unwarranted leveller as the Reds had dominated proceedings.

But they shook off that blow and what a response it was from wing wizard Hammill.

The former Liverpool man almost made it 3-1 just after but Forde again pulled off a fine save to keep out his curling effort.

Millwall never really looked like getting anything out of the game until five minutes of stoppage time arrived.

Morison saw a looping header hit the bar right at the death before Barnsley frantically scrambled it away to safety to seal an important big three points - and their first back-to-back wins in the league since September.

Johnson has said January is an important month and he isn’t wrong.

As well as three crucial league tussles and a JP Trophy area final first leg against Fleetwood next Saturday, Johnson also has the small matter of the January transfer window to deal with.

Before kick-off the Reds unveiled the signing of Bradley Ash from non-league Weston-super-Mare whilst allowing academy graduate Paul Digby to join Ipswich on loan until the end of the season.

And Johnson says more changes could be on the way with injuries and expiring loans set to force his hand.

He added: “It’s going to be a huge week as far as recruitment is concerned.

“We’re going to lose a couple and we’ve got a couple of injuries from today so we’ve got some business to talk about.

“We’ve had to constantly evolve the group. It’s taken a little bit more time than we’ve hoped.

“But I feel we’re going into games with a decent chance of winning and that’s a nice feeling.”

BARNSLEY (4-4-2): Davies 7, Wabara 6, Long 7, Mawson 6, A White 7 (Bree 85, 5), Isgrove 7, Pearson 6, Hourihane 6, Hammill 9, Winnall 8, Watkins 7 (M Smith 86, 5). Subs not used: Townsend, R Williams, H White, Roberts, Templeton.

Goals: Winnall 12, Hammill 67

Booked: Hammill

Millwall: Forde 6, Edwards 5 (Abdou 68, 5), Webster 4, Beevers 5, Martin 7, Onyedinma 5 (Gregory 46, 5), Saville 6, Williams 6, Upson 5 (Ferguson 46, 6), O’Brien 5, Morison 6. Subs not used: Archer, Nelson, Thompson, Philpot.

Goal: Morison 61.

Booked: Martin, Ferguson

Ref: James Adcock (Notts)

Attendance: 8,700.