Barnsley match verdict: Crawley Town 5 Reds 1

Ross Turnbull picks the ball out of the net

Ross Turnbull picks the ball out of the net

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Whoever takes over from Danny Wilson in the Barnsley hot-seat is facing a momentous uphill task in rallying this current set of wounded troops.

The Reds capitulated to a club record-equalling seventh straight away league defeat at a Crawley side who themselves are languishing in the Sky Bet League One drop zone and had been looking a fair bet to be relegated.

However, the Red Devils made Barnsley look like Sunday League players at the Broadfield Stadium, particularly during their four-goal second-half effort which saw some truly embarrassing defending.

There was a degree of shock when Wilson got the bullet last Wednesday following a largely disappointing second spell in charge.

But where do shell-shocked Barnsley go from this now? Saturday’s shambolic showing was worse than anything that had gone on during Wilson’s tenure - and arguably quite a number of managers before that - so Oakwell is surely home to a crisis club at present.

There have been some big names and some not-so-big names mentioned as potential managerial candidates over the weekend - Uwe Rosler, Gary Johnson, his son and current Oldham boss, Lee Johnson, and Reds legend Craig Hignett.

Joint caretaker boss Mark Burton could only apologise after his temporary stewardship alongside Paul Heckingbottom got off to a nightmare start.

Burton, who revealed his is still in the dark as to what the future holds as far as team leadership is concerned, said: “Some players, and I won’t name any names, were guilty of throwing the towel in during the second half.

“I don’t know why that was, but I can assure you I won’t tolerate that.

“Players have got to be up for the fight so because of what happened I’ll be having some tough decisions to make this week.”

The Reds return to action with a home game against Crewe on Saturday.

Burton added: “I’m devastated with the result, and I didn’t see it coming, to be honest.

“We didn’t show any spirit or character and that has got to be addressed.

“It was a horror show and I really feel for the fans. They travelled down here and paid a lot of money.

“I’m a Barnsley kid and I’m up for the fight. I hope the players will feel like I do - absolutely cut up inside because of the nature of this defeat.”

So the second post-Wilson era began with academy boss Burton and development coach Heckingbottom opting to make three changes to the starting line-up following the miserable home defeat by Fleetwood in midweek.

It was the Reds’ first ever competitive visit to the Broadfield Stadium, and slotting back into the back four were teenage pair Mason Holgate and George Smith in place of the experienced Jean-Yves M’voto and the rested Peter Ramage.

The temporary leadership team also gave Leroy Lita another chance up top alongside George Waring, with the misfiring Kane Hemmings dropped to the bench.

Crawley had also been struggling and boss Dean Saunders also made three changes on the back of a 5-0 midweek thumping by Doncaster and a sequence of just one win in 16 League One games.

With Dodworth lad Burton and Heckingbottom prowling the touchline, the young Reds gave a good account of themselves in the first half, but they fell behind to a route-one goal in stoppage time.

The woodwork had already saved Crawley once when a long clearance was flicked on by Mathias Pogba into Izale McLeod’s path, and the experienced frontman neatly chipped his 11th goal of the season over the advancing Ross Turnbull and into the gaping goal.

The writing was on the wall just three minutes after the restart when Lee Fowler’s free-kick wasn’t properly defended and centre-back Sonny Bradley was allowed far too much time and space to lash home his first goal of the season.

It was then 3-0 in similar woeful circumstances, with again a Fowler free-kick not dealt with, allowing Marvin Elliott to beat captain and goalkeeper Turnbull easily from close range.

A number of the 419 dedicated travelling Reds faithful could stand no more and headed for the exits at that stage ahead of the tortuous journey home, but those who remained saw their side grab a slender lifeline in the 65th minute.

Subs Rhys Oates and Hemmings combined well before the latter swooped to head home his fifth goal of the season from point-blank range.

The consolation goal gave the Reds false hope, though.

The three-goal cushion was soon restored thanks to another calamity at the back.

Lewin Nyatanga looked amateurish as he totally mis-controlled the ball under no pressure from McLeod, who nicked possession and strolled towards Turnbull before lashing home gleefully.

Gavin Tomlin struck the post for Crawley, before they wrapped up the easiest of victories seven minutes from time.

Lewis Young - left totally unmarked on the flank - clipped in a cross for McLeod and he slammed the ball into the roof of the net to complete his dream hat-trick.

Embarrassment finally over, the totally deflated Reds were left to contemplate their collective effort during what will have been a long and thoroughly miserable trip home.

Crawley (4-5-1): Price 7; Young 7, Ward 6, Bradley 8, Dickson 7; Edwards 7, Elliott 7, Fowler 8 (Smith 79, 6), Wordsworth 6 (Morgan 77, 6), Pogba 6 (Tomlin 59, 5); McLeod 9. Subs not used: Dutton, Anderson, Bawling.

Barnsley (4-4-2): Turnbull 7; Holgate 6, Nyatanga 4, Cranie 4, Smith 4 (Oates 61, 6); Scowen 7, Hourihane 4, Pearson 5, Lalkovic 5; Lita 4 (Hemmings 61, 6), Waring 5 (M’voto 61, 5).Subs not used: Davies, Williams, Bailey, Berry.

Referee watch: Darren Sheldrake. The Surrey ref was fussy, particularly in the first half, but there were few contentious decisions to contemplate.

Manager’s view - Mark Burton: “We collapsed in the second half and didn’t show enough character. It was an absolute horror show and I’m devastated for the fans.”

Manager’s view - Dean Saunders: “We have defended well and the strikers certainly did their bit. Obviously Izale McLeod will get the headlines, but the all the team played well.”

Hero: Josh Scowen was the only Barnsley player to emerge from this disastrous performance with any real credit.He kept going throughout after looking particularly dangerous in the first half.

Key moment: The first piece of shoddy defending - in stoppage time at the end of the first half - allowed Izale McLeod to open the scoring at a crucial stage in the game.

The hosts were clearly lifted and went on to rout their visitors in the second period.

Viewpoint: It’s difficult to predict what will happen at Barnsley during the coming week after this shambolic performance in Sussex. Maybe the Oakwell decision-makers will regret dispensing with Danny Wilson’s services at this crucial stage of the season - who knows? But surely this wouldn’t have happened had Wilson still been in charge. The players will certainly need to do plenty of soul-searching before next weekend’s home clash against Crewe.

Attendance: 2,290.

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