Match report: Barnsley 0 Charlton 6

Barnsley's day of misery is almost complete when Tom Kennedy is sent off by referee Geoff Eltringham with Charlton already 5-0 up.
Barnsley's day of misery is almost complete when Tom Kennedy is sent off by referee Geoff Eltringham with Charlton already 5-0 up.
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Six goals conceded, two sending-offs and a thoroughly disappointing afternoon for Barnsley.

And to make matters worse a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Charlton Athletic sees the club back in the relegation zone.

With just four fixtures to assure their Championship safety it’s going to be a real battle to the bitter end for David Flitcroft’s side.

It’s fair to say nobody saw this scoreline coming, especially with the Reds unbeaten in their last three matches ahead of the visit of the Addicks.

But more so because those three matches had seen the Reds humble promotion-chasers Leicester City, grab a battling draw away to high-fliers Crystal Palace and then snatch a last-gasp draw with league leaders Cardiff City earlier in the week.

However, for whatever reason, the Reds’ trademark battling qualities – installed by Flitcroft since he took over as the club’s new boss – completely deserted the home side.

And this was an embarrassing defeat, one which everyone at the club, especially the players, will want to forget.

It was hard to watch at time as the Reds were pulled to pieces having seen their defence pierced after just four minutes.

There won’t be much worse for a manager to endure than his side conceding early in a match, especially having worked all week to make sure of a miserly start.

But the Reds started poorly and, when midfielder Stephen Dawson was sent off shortly after the hour mark, well any hope of a comeback had already disappeared.

The hosts were 4-0 behind at that stage and had been architects of their own downfall.

Flitcroft tried to put a brave face on an awful loss, but he knows his team have it all to do, especially with Dawson and Tom Kennedy – who was also sent-off with only four minutes remaining – missing for crucial games that will determine whether the Reds can retain their Championship status.

“It was all about the start, we just couldn’t cope,” reflected Flitcroft.

“They scored early and had the advantage. They’ve caused us too many problems.

“Losing the players for the next few games is a big loss. We’re thin, there’s no doubt about that.”

Flitcroft made two changes to his side from that which battled so admirably to grab a stoppage time point away to the division’s best side in midweek.

Chris Dagnall replaced Jason Scotland up front, while Tomasz Cywka replaced fellow winger Jim O’Brien in the starting 11.

But any hopes of a positive start at home quickly evaporated when Bradley Pritchard pounced to give the Addicks a fourth minute lead.

Keeper Luke Steele was to blame. He spilled Yann Kermorgant’s low drive and Zimbabwe midfielder Pritchard gladly poked home to give Chris Powell’s team the perfect start.

To their credit the Reds rallied and Sheffield Wednesday loan striker Chris O’Grady forced a save out of Addicks’ keeper Ben Hamer at his near post.

Right-back Scott Wiseman burst forward soon after, but the defender blazed his long- range shot high and wide.

Just as it looked as though they might be finding their feet, the Reds conceded a second goal. And it was another poor goal.

Addicks’ skipper Johnnie Johnson tried his luck with a right-foot strike – and his luck was in as Steele let the ball through his legs.

Midfielder Jacob Mellis rifled a powerful free-kick into the visitors’ wall midway through the half and substitute Jason Scotland, introduced before the half hour mark with proceedings going horribly wrong, had a goalbound shot charged down.

Mellis also had a shot cleared in the six-yard box but the Reds couldn’t find the back of the net.

Bobby Hassell headed just wide of the right upright from a Kennedy corner eight minutes before the break, but the hosts went in two goals down.

Dagnall had a glorious opportunity to pull a goal back just over a minute after the resumption, but the striker lacked composure at the crucial stage and blazed his shot well wide.

That miss proved pivotal, although Flitcroft didn’t think so afterwards. Within a minute the Addicks were 3-0 ahead and cruising.

A deep cross from Rhoys Wiggins was met by a bullet header from Kermorgant – who no one had bothered to mark – and he picked out the bottom left corner.

Dagnall had a shot parried by Hamer and, from the resulting corner, Stephen Foster had a header saved by the keeper.

At the other end Ricardo Fuller curled a right-foot effort just wide of Steele’s left post, but a fourth goal was not long in coming.

And it was another error from the usually reliable Steele that led to the goal. Callum Harriott’s low drive should have been saved, but Steele let the ball sneak past him at his neat post.

Dagnall had a shot blocked and sub Marlon Harewood blasted high and wide before Dubliner Dawson was given his marching orders by County Durham official Eltringham for a foul on Kermorgant.

The Addicks went for the jugular with the Reds reduced to ten men and Fuller fired wide having got the better of Foster.

But there was still fight in the Reds and sub O’Brien shot wide of the left post and Dagnall had a shot on target charged down.

The striker also had a shot deflected over the crossbar, but by this stage any goal would have just been a consolation.

Kennedy was then dismissed for what was deemed a professional foul as the last man, hauling down Fuller.

And the experienced striker capped a fine performance by getting on the score sheet in the third and final minute of stoppage time.

The Reds’ cause is by no means lost with 12 points to play for, but the fight just got that little bit harder.