MATCH REPORT: Barnsley 1 Ipswich 1

Stephen Dawson (7) celebrates his goal with Martin Cranie (25).
Stephen Dawson (7) celebrates his goal with Martin Cranie (25).
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STEPHEN Dawson celebrated his first Barnsley goal with a curry after Championship strugglers Ipswich threatened to bring the hosts back down to earth with a bump.

Fresh from their dazzling 5-0 demolition of Birmingham City last weekend, the Reds were widely tipped to topple the Tractor Boys who had lost their last three league outings.

But the home side left it late before Dawson - with his first goal since December 2011 - cancelled out Aaron Cresswell’s sixth minute opener.

The Dubliner was understandably delighted to have got on the scoresheet for the first time since scoring for his former club Leyton Orient nearly ten months ago.

However, the Irishman – who also settled down to watch Match of the Day on Saturday evening with his girlfriend after his fine man-of-the-match display - admitted it could have been an even better afternoon if it had not been for two fines saves from Ipswich keeper Scott Loach which thwarted the Reds late on.

Striker Chris Dagnall also struck a post with the home side in the ascendancy, but the Reds did stretch their unbeaten home league run to four matches.

“We showed in the second half why a lot of teams are starting to fear us,” said Dawson. “We weren’t great in the first half, but then we decided to get the ball down in the second half and I thought we were really unlucky not to get the win. It’s a shame we couldn’t get the three points in the end.

“It [my goal] has been a long time coming, but I’m just happy for the team. It’s always nice to score, but the main thing is that it got us back in the game.

“It’s a positive point and probably even more credit to us because teams like Ipswich are putting more players behind the ball because they fear us.”

Unsurprisingly Reds boss Keith Hill kept faith with the team which romped to victory over the Blues seven days earlier, although young right-back John Stones returned to the substitute’s bench.

And it was Stones’ introduction which created the width which the Reds had craved after a frustrating opening 45 minutes.

The hosts were unlucky to have gone behind. A combination of a dubious decision from referee Trevor Kettle - to award a foul on Lee Martin by Dawson – and some poor goalkeeping from Ben Alnwick led to Cresswell’s early opener.

Alnwick somehow let Cresswell’s left-foot strike slip under him for only the second goal the Reds have conceded at Oakwell this term.

The former Tottenham Hotspur keeper redeemed himself with an assured block from Daryl Murphy not long after, while Dagnall was denied by Loach at the other end.

Martin rifled over as the visitors pressed for a second, before the Reds’ leading scorer Craig Davies went close to an equaliser when he rifled a right-foot shot wide of the left upright.

Centre-back Stephen Foster headed the ball into the back of the net seven minutes before the break, but Berkshire official Kettle ruled out the goal for a foul from the defender on Loach.

Alnwick palmed away Andy Drury’s header from a Martin corner six minutes after the break to keep the Reds within touching distance - and that block proved very important as the Reds grew in confidence.

Moments later Dagnall was desperately unlucky to see his left-foot shot strike the post and away to safety.

The Reds had a penalty appeal turned down in the 68th minute when Davies’ powerful shot looked to have struck an Ipswich player’s hand amongst a crowd of bodies.

But the leveller eventually came for the Reds following sustained pressure. Midfielder Jacob Mellis picked out Dawson with an inch-perfect pass and, after a deft touch the Irishman volleyed into the top left corner to leave Loach no chance.

Substitute Danny Rose had a penalty appeal waved away after he went down after a strong challenge in the box, before the visitors nearly restored their lead when Nathan Ellington – another sub – missed the target with a bullet header from Andy Drury’s right-wing corner.

Loach denied Davies his eighth league goal with a smart point-blank block with five minutes remaining and then produced an even better save to tip Dawson’s goalbound strike over the bar.

Davies shot straight at Loach in the second minute of injury time and winger Tomasz Cywka wasted a glorious chances to snatch victory when he headed Mellis’ cross over.

“They [Ipswich] set up to stop us playing in the first half – and with good affect,” reflected Reds assistant manager David Flitcroft.

“When we worked out that we had to move the ball quicker we completed dominated in the second half. The scoreline should have definitely reflected a 2-1, 3-1 victory for us.

“But credit to Ipswich because they showed great character to stick in there and threw bodies at everything.

“Usually you can goal one goal up in this league and generally you don’t get beaten, so it was encouraging we stood the test.

“There was a lot of hesitation in the first-half, but in the second half we asked a lot of questions of Ipswich, who stood strong.”

Ipswich boss Paul Jewell, under pressure without a win in seven games, admitted: “They had a fantastic result at Birmingham last week and they’re unbeaten at home, so we knew it was going to be tough. We weren’t better than Barnsley. I thought they were the better team, but we got something out of the game.

“We didn’t play well. We frustrated them for large periods, but it’s [our form] not going to come right over night because our team has lost it’s confidence a little bit.

“When things are going against us, and they have for us, you’ve got to make your own luck. I know it’s a tough time, but any manager in the game will tell you it’s not easy when things are going wrong.

“Until I don’t think I can do any better, or unless I’m told that I’m no longer, then I’ll keep fighting. Hopefully we can and turn it around.”