Barnsley waved goodbye to the Championship this afternoon, with a 3-2 defeat at home to Queens Park Rangers.
Barnsley have produced moments to savour during the past seven seasons in the second tier, but not many this term. There was a good chance for the Reds to sign off with a big smile, however.
Rangers - and their colourful boss Redknapp - will surely have had one eye on their forthcoming play-off campaign, and they have hardly been in great nick of late. Two wins in their last seven games offered cause for optimism for the loyal home faithful inside Oakwell.
It was Rangers who opened the game much the brighter of the two teams in the beaming sunshine. Doyle produced a classy turn and finish before drilling in a low shot which whistled past the post.
The Reds looked lively in the opening 10 minutes, but the visitors showed plenty of composure when in possession. There was a scare for the casual Reds in the 14th minute.
A back-pass from Cranie to Steele was far too short, with the ‘keeper having to charge out of goal and seeing a clearance hit Austin before, thankfully, the ball flew out harmlessly for a goal-kick.
The Reds’ first decent chance arrived a minute later. Leading scorer O’Grady created it himself, finding space on the edge of the box before crashing in a superb low strike which former England stopper Green had to dive down low to palm round the post.
Finally the hosts were starting to string a few passes together, though the game did resemble a training run-out at times.
The returning O’Brien twisted and turned before seeing a shot blocked by Onouha as the Reds tried to build on that little bit of momentum, but considering some players may well have been playing for a potentially extended contract for next season, there was precious little which will have enthused boss Wilson.
O’Brien was then the creator of another half-chance. He lifted in a floated cross to the box towards the busy Rose, but his looping header didn’t quite loop high enough to beat the outstretched grasp of Green.
Still far too many passes were going astray, however, and Wilson wasn’t looking overly impressed as he stood motionless, with arms folded, propped up against the home dugout.
Jennings drilled a promising-looking free-kick straight at Green, before the disappointing Reds were punished by two quickfire Rangers goals in the run-up to half-time.
First, Traore played a simple through-ball to danger-man AUSTIN who slotted comfortably past Steele from 10 yards, then an woeful own goal made it 2-0.
Doyle clipped in a low cross from the right and as M’VOTO tried to make a clearance, the ball struck his shin and looped past the stranded Steele.
It was now looking as though the Reds were definitely on their way down without much of a fight.
As the second period began neither manager had opted to make changes, but it was the Reds who opened with seemingly a fresh impetus.
In the opening five minutes they threatened the Rangers back-line twice - first via a Rose deflected shot which fizzed just wide, then O’Grady’s shot on the turn rolled inches past Green’s far post.
O’GRADY made no mistake in the 54th minute, however. The burly striker headed home from Jennings’ left-wing cross to register his 14th goal of the season, and it was ‘game on’ again.
Rangers were looking a little stunned and Redknapp made a double substitution, but now it was the Reds who were finally in the ascendancy with Jennings and Ramage both going close to a shock equaliser.
It wasn’t to be, though, and Rangers stormed 3-1 ahead in the 68th minute through YUN. The South Korean danced past three limp challenges before lashing crisply into the net from eight yards.
So, the Reds were heading into League one on the back of another defeat. Talisman O’GRADY crashed in a super strike from 25 yards as the game entered stoppage-time, but a hugely competent Rangers side had coasted to victory on the final day.