BRILLIANT Barnsley fired themselves out of the Championship relegation zone after they came from behind to secure a dramatic win against Dean Saunders’ faltering Wolves.
The Reds’ incredible run has now seen them win six games on the spin, and this fourth straight league win allowed them to leapfrog their struggling visitors.
Goals from Chris Dagnall and substitute Jacob Mellis did the damage for the Reds as they fought back from Bjorn Sigurdarson’s seventh minute opener.
Boss David Flitcroft switched a few things around despite Saturday’s latest victory in the FA Cup at Milton Keynes. An extra front man was added to the starting line-up in the shape of former Sheffield Wednesday man Chris O’Grady, while across the middle both Rory Delap and Jim O’Brien were in after stepping up from the bench.
The fourth and final change saw Stephen Foster return to the heart of a flat back four in what was the experienced defender’s 500th career appearance. Kelvin Etuhu was out after suffering an awful facial injury against the Dons, while also dropping out were Bobby Hassell, Mellis and Scott Golbourne.
It was a bitterly cold evening, but unfortunately for the Reds it was Wolves who were on fire in the opening quarter-of-an-hour. Saunders’ men had already gone close through Bakary Sako by the time they did surge in front after just five minutes.
And it was Sako who this time was the provider as his superbly-measured through-ball found Bjorn Sigurdarson.
The Icelandic striker was able to charge clear of the defence before rounding Luke Steele and slotting the ball into the unguarded net.
It was a disastrous start for Flitcroft’s men in such a crucial game at the bottom of the table, and 10 minutes later the woodwork came to their rescue. This time former Tottenham wide-man Jamie O’Hara crashed in a brilliant angled drive from 25 yards that struck the bar before being hacked away.
Within seconds of that scare the Reds finally threatened and, after O’Brien played Dagnall in, Saturday’s two-goal hero could only flash a low drive wide of the far post after bursting clear.
By the 25th minute mark the Reds had seemingly weathered the early Wolves storm and it was Dagnall again who went close as he drove in a shot from distance which only just cleared the bar. The hosts remained in the ascendancy as the first half began to draw to a close, and Marlon Harewood fluffed a great opportunity to level four minutes before the break.
Picking up Scott Wiseman’s pass, Harewood expertly wriggled free of Kaspars Gorkss but them somehow fired a low shot across keeper Carl Ikeme and wide from barely six yards.
The Reds eventually grabbed their equalising goal just three minutes after the restart. And it was that man Dagnall who continued his rich vein of scoring form as he headed home past a stranded Ikeme from Delap’s inswinging cross from the right.
The decibel levels inside Oakwell were raised significantly as the home faithful sensed a way out of the drop zone, and minutes later Dagnall went close again as he sliced a half-volley into the side-netting.
O’Brien saw an effort blocked as Barnsley kept the heat firmly on Wolves as the hour mark passed, while David Perkins was looking increasingly threatening as he was stretching the visiting midfielders in all different directions.
Mellis and Jason Scotland were called upon to try to add that final spark as Wolves were looking more fragile by the minute, and the former Wigan and Ipswich hit-man almost made an immediate impact as he curled a shot inches wide from the edge of the box.
It was Mellis who pounced for the Reds’ deserved second goal with 18 minutes left, however. Tricky feet from O’Grady created the opening, as he teed up the substitute who steered a neat low shot past Ikeme from eight yards.
BARNSLEY: Steele 7, Wiseman 7, Foster 7, Cranie 6, Kennedy 7, O’Brien 6 (Mellis 64, 7), Perkins 8, Delap 7, O’Grady 7 (McNulty 78, 6), Dagnall 8, Harewood 6 (Scotland 64, 6).
Goals: Dagnall (48), Mellis (72).
Yellow card: Delap (60).
WOLVES: Ikeme 6, Edwards 5 (Hammill 75. 6), Henry 7, Sako 8, Foley 5, Robinson 7, Gorkss 5, Batth 6, O’Hara 5 (Davis 64, 6), Ebanks-Blake 6, Sigurdarson 7 (Cassidy 84, 5).
Goal: Sigurdarson (7)
Referee: Darren Sheldrake (Surrey).