BARNSLEY boss Keith Hill hailed a ‘special’ Yorkshire derby victory and a memorable league double as his confidence-fuelled side tore Leeds apart at Oakwell on Saturday.
Ricardo Vaz Te – an early substitute after skipper Jacob Butterfield limped off – was the main hero with a clinical hat-trick, but Hill wanted to cherish a well-deserved New Years’ Eve victory in which all of his gutsy team played a huge part.
Hill said: “Yes, it’s been a special day for everyone, but what pleased me the most was the manner in which we secured the win.
“We’ve proved once again that we are capable of being as good as any team in this division on our day. We can make teams like Leeds look average.
“All of the players’ efforts were just superb, but even now my first priority has to remain getting to the 50-point mark – I just can’t take my eyes off that.”
Gaffer Hill opted to make three changes to the team that started in the Boxing Day home defeat against Blackpool.
On the back of a run of three straight reverses, Hill also reverted to a 4-5-1 formation with Craig Davies leading the line on his own. Vaz Te was dropped to the bench, while attacking wide-man Jim O’Brien didn’t even make the 16 for what was to prove a tasty clash against a Leeds side who had lost their previous two Championship games.
Miles Addison and Bobby Hassell came into the starting line-up to strengthen up the midfield five, while at the back Stephen Foster was in in place of Rob Edwards to partner Jim McNulty at the heart of the defence.
Leeds boss Simon Grayson made four changes to the side which lost at Derby County last time out, with Paul Connolly, Mika Vayrynen, Ramon Nunez and Andy Keogh all getting the nod.
The first half was intriguing if not spectacular. The atmosphere was unsurprisingly electric and it was Leeds who made the better of the early running.
Keogh fizzed a shot across goal early on, before a crazy minute turned the game on its head.
Firstly Butterfield was forced off after being clattered in the opening few minutes, but that brought Vaz Te into the fold and he made an almost immediate impact.
Less than a minute after coming on, Vaz Te latched on to a short pass from Davies before drilling home past Andy Lonergan and into the corner.
Vaz Te teed up Matt Done minutes later, but the midfielder couldn’t control the ball when he had only Lonergan to beat.
Davies lashed over the top
and Luke Steele saved well from Keogh at the other end, but the Reds were just about in control as they led 1-0 at the break.
It was a different story after the break, however, as Leeds capitulated and Barnsley profited in fine style.
The Reds’ lead was doubled six minutes after the restart with Vaz Te smashing home past Lonergan and Kisnorbo on the goalline after Done’s corner-kick wasn’t cleared.
Nine minutes later it was 3-0 and the Barnsley fan packing out the Pontefract End were in dreamland.
This time it was Davies who netted
clinically as he curled home a shot from 20 yards after picking up Danny Pugh’s weak defensive clearance.
By this time Leeds were out of it and it was little surprise when the Reds surged into a four-goal lead with still 18 minutes to play.
Vaz Te was this time exquisite as he danced past Aidan White and the ineffective Darren O’Dea before slotting neatly past Lonergan from a tight angle.
Four-nil to the good and a Championship double secured against one of their fiercest Yorkshire rivals – it had been a fantastic day for Barnsley.
O’Dea nodded against the crossbar as Leeds threatened a brief response, but Barnsley were soon back on the attack and Davies and Vaz Te came close to notching an unbelievable fifth goal.
Leeds sub Luciano Becchio had the final word as he headed home to make it 4-1 in stoppage-time, but this had been the super Reds’ day as their supporters headed off to their New Year celebrations in jubilant mood.
It proved to be a traumatic day for Leeds boss Grayson, who pulled no punches after the game.
He said: “That was embarrassing for me, totally shambolic. There was no passion, no desire, wrong decisions all over the place.
“Players have got to earn the right to play for Leeds United, but I didn’t see anything out there today to suggest that. It wasn’t acceptable and I would go as far as to say one or two of those players won’t play for this club again.”