Jacob Butterfield: Once again the Reds youngster turned in an energetic performance down the flanks. Always keen to take the ball.
THERE were mixed emotions for Barnsley boss Mark Robins despite his side securing a creditable draw at in-form Middlesbrough.
The Reds were set to cruise to an impressive victory against a Boro side who were unbeaten in their previous six games, but loan defender Paul McShane picked up a straight red card in the 69th minute, then Scott McDonald headed home an equaliser in the 84th.
Until the sending-off, Barnsley were well in command and led thanks to Marlon Harewood’s fourth goal in eight appearances since joining on loan from Blackpool, but the man advantage helped the hosts’ cause and they grabbed that scarcely-deserved leveller.
“We should have been out of sight by the time we were reduced to ten, but this kind of sums our season up really,” said Robins.
“In our last three games we’ve won one, drawn one and lost one.
“Overall I’m disappointed with a point, but we’ve got to go on now and hopefully better last season’s points tally.
“We’ve still got some good games left too, included derbies against Doncaster and Sheffield United, so there’s still lots for us to play for this season.”
Robins named an unchanged starting 11 for the clash at the Riverside Stadium.
He clearly saw enough in Tuesday night’s unlucky home reverse against Championship leaders QPR to resist making any alterations.
The only slight change came among the substitutes, as Reuben Noble-Lazarus failed to make the journey north due to illness.
His place among the subs went to fellow youngster Alastair Taylor.
Stephen Foster was again on the bench, and when he took Jacob Mellis’s place with 20 minutes left, he notched up a notable 150th league appearance.
It was a quiet opening spell and only Nathan Doyle threatened when his shot was blocked, but midway through the first half Harewood pounced to put the Reds in front.
Having controlled Kieran Trippier’s deep cross, Harewood saw an initial shot parried by Boro keeper Paul Smith, before he lashed home the rebound from close range.
Andrew Taylor fired a shot wide as the hosts sought a quick response, but Barnsley were well in control and Mellis came close to doubling the lead in the 34th minute.
Jacob Butterfield’s in-swinging corner was only partially cleared, but Mellis’s shot was deflected wide for another corner which this time came to nothing.
After the break both sides continued to trade chances with Danny Haynes going close at one end, while the hosts replied with skipper Barry Robson testing Luke Steele from distance.
Butterfield smashed over the top from 25 yards, before the game’s turning point came in the 69th minute when the Reds ended being reduced to ten men.
McShane – featuring in what was due to be the final game of his loan deal from Hull – initially clashed with Kevin Thomson out on the touchline, but within seconds there was a free-for-all with almost all of the players and coaching staff pushing and shoving each other.
After much deliberation the referee sent McShane straight off, while Thomson appeared somewhat fortunate to get away with a yellow card.
The man advantage clearly gave Boro a lift, but it was only after Smith had brilliantly thwarted Harewood that the hosts struck back to level.
With just six minutes to go sub Tarmo Kink flung over a super cross for McDonald who powered a crisp header past Steele.
Even then the Reds could have gone on and nicked a victory as the impressive Butterfield twice fired in late shots – one of which was deflected wide while the other fizzed inches over the top.
Boro boss Tony Mowbray acknowledged that he had been happy to have shared the spoils.
He admitted: “I’m relieved with a point from the game. Barnsley played very well; they spread the ball around and they play good football. They didn’t disappoint.”
I think the sending-off was harsh.
The referee should have given us a free-kick just before the incident, but he didn’t.
Then there is bodily contact, followed by the proverbial handbags.
Our player was sent off and theirs wasn’t so that was disappointing for me. It looked more like a case of 50:50 from where I was stood.