Caretaker duo stake claim for Barnsley job with 2-0 home win

Lewin Nyatanga is congratulated  by John O'Sullivan after scoring Barnsley's first.  Photo: Dean Atkins
Lewin Nyatanga is congratulated by John O'Sullivan after scoring Barnsley's first. Photo: Dean Atkins
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Some high-profile names are being linked with the vacant Barnsley manager’s job.

gfgf But joint-caretaker bosses Mark Burton and Paul Heckingbottom did their own chances of getting the job no harm with a much-needed win over Crewe.

Paolo Di Canio, Lee Johnson, Craig Hignett, Brian Laws and current Swindon boss Mark Cooper - who the Star understands has now held talks with Reds chiefs - are just some of the names backed to become Danny Wilson’s replacement.

But although the Reds weren’t spectacular in this fifth win in six home games, they got the job done.

And Burton and Heckingbottom were understandably pleased having seen the Reds hammered 5-1 in their first game in charge last weekend.

In truth the match was dire for long spells before defender Lewin Nyatanga headed the hosts in front after 66 minutes.

But after that the confidence poured back into the Reds players and they went on to secure a relatively comfortable victory thanks to another goal, a comical own-goal from Crewe’s debutant goalkeeper Paul Rachubka.

Clearly relieved with the reaction shown by their team following the disastrous effort at Crawley seven days earlier, Burton and Heckingbottom are back on the right track, and only focusing on team matters despite all the speculation.

When pressed for his take on the ongoing managerial situation at his beloved Oakwell, Burton, said: “I’ll just keep doing the best job for Barnsley Football Club - 100-per-cent.

“The last thing I want is a run of defeats, but as I’ve said all along, (club owner) Patrick (Cryne) and (chief executive) Ben (Mansford) will make the right decision and I’ll back whatever that is, whether it’s me or somebody else.

“I’ll do as much as I can to get this team back up the league table, and right now I’m just bothered about preparing for games.

“Nobody is going behind anyone’s back, everybody is being up front with each other and whatever the board do will be for the best of this club.

“Why should I worry about that right now? I’m just concerned with getting a team ready for the next game.

“If somebody else comes in, so be it, but I’m passionate, I’m a Barnsley lad and of course I want the job.

“But if I don’t get the job, I’ll not throw my teddy out of the cot as they say. I’ll back whatever the board do, and whatever decision they make.”

Burton and Heckingbottom resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes to the Reds’ starting line-up following the debacle at Crawley seven days earlier, but they made four alterations to freshen things up.

Goalkeeper Ross Turnbull was out after picking up an injury, being replaced by Adam Davies, while Jean-Yves M’voto returned to the defence to solidify things a little after the embarrassment in Sussex.

James Bailey returned to the midfield, while up front, Kane Hemmings - who scored at Crawley after coming on as a substitute - was given a chance to shine alongside Leroy Lita.

Mason Holgate, Milan Lalkovic and George Waring were all dropped to the bench.

However, it was a dismal, goalless first half in front of a muted atmosphere inside Oakwell.

There were precious few clear-cut chances for either team, with Crewe threatening first when Canadian striker Marcus Haber saw a header scrambled off the line by relieved keeper Davies.

The Reds stopper then thwarted Haber with his legs after the Canadian had latched onto a hopeful through-ball from Jamie Ness.

The best the Reds could muster in the opening 45 minutes was a weak shot from Lita, who had space on the edge of the box but failed to fire once again.

But it got better in the second period.

The Reds should have broken the deadlock in the 50th minute when another impressive corner-kick from George Smith found the head of Martin Cranie, only for him to nod disappointingly over from six yards.

Hemmings fired narrowly wide, before the relieved Reds opened the scoring in the 66th minute.

Josh Scown flung over a superbly-hit free-kick which Nyatanga rose well to meet and he guided a super header past a dejected Ben Garratt.

From that point onwards, the hosts looked like a different team.

The shackles were lifted and a confidence-fuelled outfit all of a sudden looked very threatening.

The recalled Baley went close as he almost capped a fine individual performance with a goal, while Manchester United loanee Ben Pearson lashed over the top from 18 yards when he should have at least tested the goalkeeper.

By this time the Crewe goalkeepers had changed. Garratt had been forced to limp off after 71 minutes, making way for veteran Paul Rachubka, who had only signed for the Railwaymen on Friday following his recent release by Oldham.

With 10 minutes to go Smith’s in-swinging corner-kick was headed high into the air by defender George Ray, and as the ball dropped down towards the ground, American Rachubka inadvertently palmed it over his own goal-line to double the Reds’ lead.

Rachubka did go on to redeem himself slightly with smart stops from Hemmings and sub Rhys Oates late on, but the Reds had secured another crucial maximum points haul.

And now the main job of finding a new manager continues, with the Reds’ desperate for some permanent direction to bring some success to their disappointing season.

Barnsley 2 [Nyatanga 66, Rachubka own-goal 80]

Crewe Alexandra 0

Referee: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire).

Attendance: 8,635

MATCH STATS:

Barnsley (4-4-2): Davies 7; Cranie 6, Nyatanga 7, M’voto 7, Smith 8;

Scowen 5, Hourihane 5 (O’Sullivan 46, 5), Pearson 6, Bailey 7; Lita 4

(Waring 65, 5), Hemmings 5 (Oates 90, 5).

Subs not used: Dibble, Lalkovic, Holgate, Berry.

Booked: None

Crewe (3-5-2): Garratt 6 (Rachubka 71, 4); Davis 5, Ray 4, Tate 5

(Waters 81, 6); Baillie 6, Jones 6, Ness 7, Grant 6 (Cooper 69, 5),

Turton 6; Haber 6, Ajose 5.

Subs not used: Inman, Nolan, Leigh, Stewart.

Booked: Grant (66), Jones (77).

Referee watch: Darren Deadman (Cambs) kept game flowing. Just two yellow cards.