Match Report: Barnsley 0 Leeds United 1

Ryan McLaughlin on the ball against Leeds
Ryan McLaughlin on the ball against Leeds
Have your say

Barnsley boss Danny Wilson remains confident that his team can avoid dropping into League One despite the crushing blow of defeat against Leeds on Saturday.

The Reds’ fierce Yorkshire rivals prevailed at Oakwell for the first time since 1997 thanks to Ross McCormack’s 29th goal of the season after just a quarter of an hour.

The result - which also saw the Championship’s second-bottom side fail to score at home for the fifth successive game - leaves the Reds three points adrift of Charlton just outside the drop zone, and four behind fellow strugglers Birmingham, Doncaster and Millwall.

Crucially Wilson’s side now have just three games to secure survival, and they start today with a daunting trip to a Derby side going for promotion.

Many of the Barnsley faithful may already fear that their side’s seven-year stint in the second tier of English football is coming to an end, but boss Wilson remains defiant.

He said: “It’s not going to phase us going to Derby, far from it.

“We’ll go there with confidence, though I know full well it’s going to be a very tough ask.

“It’ll be a big challenge, but we’ll be ready for it, as we always are.

“There’s not just us in this relegation situation, I’ve said all along that it’s going to go right down to the wire.

“If it’s goes down to the last game then great. It’s QPR here and what a game that would be.

“The belief is there. That is quite obvious, I suppose. If you don’t believe you can survive you might as well go home now.

“Of course all the teams down there will be bidding to win their three remaining games (Birmingham and Charlton still have four to play).

“That’s the case with us. Maybe two wins and a draw will do it, who knows? There won’t be a shortage of effort, though.

“In saying that, you do need that quality to go with the effort. When opportunities come along you’ve got to take them.

“On Saturday we developed situations, shall we say, but we didn’t then produce the goods when it mattered.”

There had been no surprises when the teamsheet showed that neither manager had made changes for Saturday’s derby tussle.

The Reds had secured a precious ‘six-pointer’ win at Charlton in midweek, and their only fresh doubt going into the weekend surrounded Kelvin Etuhu and whether he’d shake off an ankle injury.

The makeshift right-back was forced to take a pre-match fitness test, but he passed that with flying colours.

The Reds hadn’t scored a single goal in their previous four Oakwell fixtures, but their recent record record against Leeds had been good.

It’s been a traumatic season off the field for once-mighty Leeds, but their 2-0 win against Blackpool seven days earlier - the first under new owner Massimo Cellino - had pretty much guaranteed their Championship safety, hence under-fire manager Brian McDemott also opting to resist changes.

It was a largely dire first half for Barnsley.

They were to head into the interval a goal behind, following a grim opening 45 minutes in which both sides created precious little.

The visitors pounced to fire themselves into the lead after 16 minutes.

Giant Matt Smith headed comfortably into the path of strike partner McCormack and, with the Reds backline flat-footed, the in-form hit-man steadied himself before drilling confidently past a stunned Luke Steele.

Aside from that, there was little for the 15,000-plus crowd to get too enthused about.

Leeds were otherwise rather limp in front of goal, while for the Reds Dale Jennings saw a goalbound looping header well plucked out of the air by former Oakwell loanee Jack Butland.

Tomasz Cywka volleyed Stephen Dawson’s out-swinging cross a foot wide.

The home faithful were hopeful of a distinct increase in the tempo in the second half, but unfortunately it didn’t come.

Etuhu dragged a low drive wide soon after the resumption, but from then on the Reds’ prospects went downhill.

McCormack fired a half-volley narrowly over, then Steele was alert in keeping out a smart header from Smith.

The best the hosts could muster as Leeds were content to trudge towards victory was another Jennings header, which Butland saved with ease, and Liam Lawrence’s curler which drifted a couple of feet wide.

Etuhu was substituted late in the game and he is rated as doubtful for today’s trip to Derby after having an injection on his injured ankle.

Viewpoint: So, another home game without a goal and the Reds are now staring down the barrel of relegation. It looks extremely doubtful that Wilson’s men have enough in the tank.