BARNSLEY were too good for an under-strength Wednesday side at Oakwell as an early goal by summer signing David Perkins and a late one by sub Jim O’Brien earned the Championship side a win that could have been bigger.
After former Colchester midfielder Perkins struck early, the Reds hit the woodwork three times, forced saves from Nick Weaver and had the lion’s share of possession.
Weaver also denied ex-Chesterfield striker Craig Davies in the fourth minute but was beaten three minutes later when Perkins was given too much time to pick his spot from a cross by right back Scott Wiseman, who was on Gary Megson’s wanted list. Weaver had trouble with a shot by striker Danny Haynes soon afterwards and it was not long before Barnsley were knocking the ball around to “olés” from their fans.
An Owls side showing five changes looked less potent than against Leeds on Saturday, though they did improve a little in the second half last night. With Lewis Buxton and Jon Otsemobor both unfit, academy right back Matt Tumilty, aged 18, was given a debut. Rob Jones, Chris Sedgwick, David Prutton and Julian Bennett were not in the side, and in came James O’Connor, as captain; Mark Beevers, Daniel Jones and Liam Palmer. Nathan Doyle forced two more saves from Weaver before half an hour had gone, then his midfield partner Jacob Butterfield hit the keeper’s left-hand post with a terrific strike from 25 yards.
Barnsley dominated possession. They tested Weaver with a near-post shot from Haynes then centre half Rob Edwards powered a free header over the bar from a corner. In between those near misses, Reds keeper Luke Steele went off with what looked like a groin injury and was replaced by David Preece.
But Wednesday had done so little going forward that the home team could almost have managed without a keeper.
A late tackle by Gary Madine led to pushing and shoving between players on the touchline, with Jose Semedo getting involved; a bad challenge by Daniel Jones on Perkins landed him in the book, and Semedo needing calming down as the players came off at half time. After the break Chris Sedgwick was sent on in place of trialist Padraig Amond. The sub went to the right side of midfield, with Palmer pushing into the middle, and Madine becoming virtually a lone striker.
But in the 47th minute it was almost 2-0 when a free kick by sub Jim O’Brien was deflected and hit a post.
When Wednesday finally posed a threat, almost inevitably it came via a run from Jermaine Johnson, whose shot was easy for Preece while Madine waited in vain for a pass.
Although Wednesday improved slightly in this half they escaped again when centre back Stephen Foster drove a free header from a corner against the bar, and sub keeper Richard O’Donnell saved from Perkins.
When O’Brien lashed home from close range it was no more than Barnsley deserved.
REDS: Steele (Preece 33), Wiseman, Foster, Edwards, McEveley, Addison, Butterfield (O’Brien 41), Doyle, Perkins, Davies (Vas Te 62), Haynes (Rose 66). Unused subs: Hassell, McNulty, Lovre.
OWLS: Weaver (O’Donnell 62), Tumility, R Johnson (R Jones 69), Beevers, D Jones, Palmer (Reynolds 72), O’Connor, Semedo (Nyoni 80), J Johnson, Madine, Amond (Sedgwick 46).
Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire).
Goals: Perkins (7), O’Brien (80).