Stalybridge 0 Barnsley 1: Scowen pace sets up Reds winner

Goalmouth action from Stalybridge v Barnsley. Photo: Dean Atkins
Goalmouth action from Stalybridge v Barnsley. Photo: Dean Atkins
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Barnsley boss Lee Johnson admitted it was a case of blowing out the cobwebs as his side began their pre-season preparations with a hard-fought victory away at Stalybridge Celtic.

The Reds enjoyed the majority of the possession against their National League North opponents, but it was an own goal early in the second half which was the only difference between the sides.

Johnson was encouraged by aspects of the performance, but admits that he needs to get plenty more out of his players before the start of the season.

“There were parts I was pleased with and parts I wasn’t so pleased with,” he said. “It was the first game so we’ve got to get those cobwebs out.

“I’m grateful to Stalybridge because they put on a good game for us on a good surface. I thought five or six of our lads did pretty well, and there was a lot more to come from a few others.

“There were parts of our play which were quite nice. Our front three looked quite lively on the counter attack and our centre-halves looked strong.

“We maybe could have scored from a couple of chances - we had a lot of territory. It’s always tough to play at a non-league side in your first game because they’re really hungry to show you what they can do and I thought they were excellent today.”

The Reds included all four new recruits in their starting line-up, as Barnsley-born Marc Roberts partnered Alfie Mawson at the heart of the defence. Marley Watkins and Conor Wilkinson formed a front three with Sam Winnall.

The attacking trio combined for most of Barnsley’s chances in the first period as the visitors dominated possession. Wilkinson, playing the deepest of the three, found Watkins in the left channel, who flashed it across goal with Winnall inches away from connecting.

A clever flick round the corner by the lively Watkins released Wilkinson who slid it through for Winnall, but he dragged his shot across goal.

Josh Scowen, industrious out wide, whipped a ball into the back post after Stalybridge had cleared a corner, only for Roberts to put his free header over the bar.

Christian Dibble was not entirely untroubled in the Reds goal, making two smart saves from the home side’s rare forays into the Barnsley box.

Stalybridge did have the ball in the back of the net late in the first half, but there was a push on Roberts as it was bundled over the line.

Despite looking disjointed as the half-time substitutes settled in, the Reds scored the opener after a pacey breakaway by Scowen.

The diminutive winger brought it down on the halfway line and drove through the entirety of the Stalybridge half, before his cross was chested into his own net by Aaron Chalmers.

Barnsley again dominated territory and possession with George Maris going closest to adding a second, curling an effort just past the far post.

The Reds are back in action on Tuesday at Guiseley, but they wil again be without Conor Hourihane after suffering a medial knee ligament injury in training.

Stalybridge: McMillan, Wylie, Wisdom, Shaw, Hughes, Dixon, Chalmers, Wright, Farrell, Tames, Johnson. Subs: Regan, Crowley, Mudimu, Simm, Chippendale.

Barnsley: Dibble, Bree (Williams 46), Mawson (Cowgill 61), Roberts (Nyatanga 46), Smith (Templeton 61), Digby (Abbott 61), Scowen (Evans 61 (Gooda 82)), Vigurs (Drennan 61), Wilkinson (Maris 46), Winnall (Brown 61), Watkins (Ofori 61).