Match report: Millwall 1 Barnsley 0

Barnsley's Scott Wiseman heads into his own net.
Barnsley's Scott Wiseman heads into his own net.
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Poor old Scott Wiseman. The Barnsley defender unfortunately discovered that it doesn’t take long to go from hero to villain.

aving made his senior international debut for Gibraltar in midweek, Wiseman was quite rightly buzzing about his new-found fame and his future at the top level.

Barnsley's Jacob Mellis holds his head after fluffing a late first half chance.

Barnsley's Jacob Mellis holds his head after fluffing a late first half chance.

But the defender was soon brought back down to earth as his unlucky own goal ultimately cost the Reds dear as they slipped to yet another away defeat, this time at the hands of the Lions at the New Den.

Wiseman had been solid at the back in what had been a much-improved defensive display from the Reds, especially from the centre-back pairing of Martin Cranie and Jean Yves-M’voto.

However, manager David Flitcroft had expressed his concern about conceding late goals in his pre-match press conference earlier in the week.

And, unfortunately for him, his team conceded in the latter stages again - 13 minutes from the final whistle to - as the Reds’ miserable away form continued.

That’s seven defeats from eight league matches on their travels this season in the Championship for Flitcroft’s struggling side.

You have to go back to February last season for the last time the Reds won away from home.

Flitcroft, understandably, backed Wiseman to bounce back from his misfortune and tried to deflect any criticism of his side’s poor away form.

But the boss stressed - again - that his side need to be more “ruthless” and “clinical” when it comes to converting potential match-winning opportunities. Flitcroft admitted: “There ae aspects that are improving, there’s no doubt about that, but I’m not going to sit here and pretend we’ve got any points from this game and pretend that I’m happy.

“But we have to make sure that in match-winning moments we’re more ruthless and clinical.”

Midfielder Jacob Mellis had a great chance to put the Reds ahead ten minutes before the break, but the former Chelsea man saw his low shot saved by Millwall keeper David Forde.

“The first opportunity fell to the right player in Jacob Mellis,” added Flitcroft. “With the quality he’s got I was made up with the chance that fell to him. If he scores that, well we’re 1-0 up at half-time. But it’s ifs, buts and maybes.

“It’s been tough results-wise (on the road this season), but what I’ve got to do is draw the positives about the performance.

“Certainly defensively I didn’t think we looked shaky. We tried dominating the game, but dominating the game means nothing when you don’t come out with any points.

“We’ll be working on that aspect of our play next week and that’s something that I’m going to drum home to these players, that when you get these opportunities you’ve got to be respectful of them and score when they come up.

“Scott is a team man, he’s a team player. He loves playing for Barnsley and he’s absolutely devastated.

“He’s got his body position wrong and he’s paid the ultimate price for it.

“It’s a terrible goal to concede, but Scott will recover.

“He’s had some bad moments before at the football club and he’ll recover from this, no problem.

“We’ll all get round him on Monday and make sure he moves forward.”

And it looks like there will have to be a lot of rallying around with time clearly not on Flitcroft’s side to turn things around.

The Reds have been in the bottom three for more than two months.

Unfortunately for Flitcroft, he had to make a forced change up front after leading scorer Chris O’Grady pulled out of training on Friday afternoon with a calf strain.

O’Grady is a key player for the Reds - they base a lot of their tactics around him - and he was certainly missed in a revised 4-4-1-1 formation with playmaker Paddy McCourt employed just behind lone striker Marcus Pedersen.

Midfielder David Fox was missing as well having contracted mumps.

The Norwich City loan recruit trained on Friday but Flitcroft admitted he was “way off it”.

Mellis and Kelvin Etuhu started with O’Grady and Fox out, but the Reds found themselves on the back foot early on.

Winger Martyn Waghorn twice shot wide and then debutant Guy Moussi had a shot charged down.

Norway international Pedersen shot straight at Forde when he might have been better serves to square the ball to an unmarked Mellis as the Reds wasted a great counter-attack.

Loan keeper Jack Butland saved a Waghorn free-kick on the half hour mark and then fellow winger Martyn Woolford had a shot charged down on edge of the Reds’ box.

Forde denied Mellis with his legs in a one-on-one situation as the midfielder looked to put the visitors ahead, before Nicky Bailey blazed over four minutes before the break as the Lions pushed for the opening goal.

Mellis latched on to a pinpoint Jim O’Brien cross just 33 seconds into the second half, but his diving header deflected off defender Justin Hoyte and out for a corner.

Wiseman poked wide at the back post after Scott Malone had taken too long to try and clear Tom Kennedy’s left-wing cross, while McCourt had a shot charged down on the edge of the area as the Reds looked the more likely to score.

England Under-21 international Butland pulled off a sensational save to deny substitute Steve Morison from point-blank range, but a minute later and the hosts were ahead.

Sub Liam Feeney’s innocuous-looking cross needed to be headed away by Wiseman, but the former Rochdale right-back somehow succeeded in heading into the top-left corner, much to the amazement of his teammates.

It was a cruel blow for the Reds.

Despite substitute Jason Scotland rifling just wide seven minutes from time, their chances of pinching anything from the game disappeared.