ANGRY Reds boss Keith Hill was raging after his leaky defence shipped a handful of goals at Brighton’s plush, newly-extended Amex Stadium on Saturday.
After a hugely encouraging opening-day Championship victory against Middlesbrough at Oakwell, Barnsley have since conceded eight goals on their travels in two games, and at the weekend Hill admitted that the Seagulls could have registered double the amount they actually did score.
Going into the weekend’s game, Brighton hadn’t scored a single goal in their three previous games games, but Gus Poyet’s rampant side sent their fans home delirious after ripping through the Reds’ fragile defence.
“We still have 12 players out unavailable, but I have no excuses whatsoever,” said Hill. “It was inept and I include myself in that.
“The opposition were excellent and it could have been anything up to 10-1 in the end.
“There wasn’t too much I could say to the players as it was disappointing that they didn’t accept the challenge before the game.
“We were up against two very good wingers, but Brighton also had Bruno and Bridge so it was like we were facing four wingers.
“But we can’t change it now. Sometimes you just have to stomach it and move on. Hopefully we will learn and grow stronger.”
The previously shot-shy hosts roared out of the blocks and punished Barnsley with an opening double salvo inside the opening quarter of an hour.
After just four minutes Reds keeper David Gonzalez spilled what should have been a regulation free-kick save from Craig Noone, and while the defence should have been alert to the potential danger in nipped Ashley Barnes to joyfully ram home the rebound for the hosts’ first strike of the season so far.
Just 10 minutes later the Reds let in former England, Chelsea and current Manchester City loanee left-back Wayne Bridge for his first league goal in almost nine years.
Taking a short pass from midfielder Liam Bridcutt, Bridge charged towards the heart of the Barnsley defence before crashing home an angled drive past Gonzalez from all of 25 yards.
It was certainly a moment to savour for the impressive Bridge, who hadn’t registered since a strike for Chelsea against Portsmouth way back in December 2003.
The Reds had offered little as an attacking threat, but were thrown a lifeline 10 minutes before the interval when a penalty was awarded after former Norwich midfielder Andrew Crofts clumsily felled Jacob Mellis in the penalty area.
Up stepped reliable former Brighton striker Craig Davies to slot home to make it 2-1.
Briefly Barnsley were lifted and the response chirped up their hardy band of travelling supporters who had made the long journey south, but the hope didn’t last.
Within three minutes the hosts had struck again, with Scottish international hit-man Craig Mackail-Smith slotting in the first of his two goals. Spanish full-back Bruno sped down the right flank and, as Gonzalez failed to get a touch to his low cross to the far post, there was Mackail-Smith who could scarcely miss from close range.
Worse was to follow 10 minutes after the restart as Brighton extended their lead.
Diminutive midfielder Noone got the better of youngster John Stones before crossing for Barnes, who in turn headed the ball into Mackail-Smith’s path and again the tigerish Scot made no mistake from close range.
Hill was forced into a double change as Scott Golbourne and Stones were sacrificed, but it made little difference.
Tomasz Cywka came closest to another response when he fluffed a one-on-one opportunity, but a predictable fifth goal came from the dominant hosts with nine minutes to go.
This time sub Kazenga LuaLua wriggled to the byline before crossing in low for Barnes to clinically fire in his second goal past the distraught Gonzalez.
Seagulls boss Poyet was delighted to have finally gained some goalscoring rewards for his team’s efforts so far this season.
He said: “Everything went our way today and it was Barnsley who were the ones to pay.
“It was a key game for us, and a tricky one, and if something goes against you in a situation like this it can be difficult.
“But getting the third goal when we did was crucial so credit to the players for that.
“They went into the game convinced it was only a matter of time.
“Unfortunately for Barnsley they paid the price.
“They were an unlucky team coming up against us today as everything went in our favour.”