TEENAGE striker Reuben Noble-Lazarus struck his first senior goal to lift Barnsley to victory over Millwall at Oakwell - bringing their season to a close as the top placed team in South Yorkshire, writes Graham Walker.
The 17-year-old, whose chances have been limited since he became the club’s youngest-ever player in 2008, stepped off the bench to fire his side to victory with a 60th-minute thunderbolt as the Lions ended their campaign with a whimper.
Millwall almost snatched a point at the death when Tamika Mkandawire saw his header come back off the upright, but it was the Tykes who held on to claim the win that secures then 17th place - their best finish since returning to the Championship five years ago.
Barnsley striker Marlon Harewood failed to recover from a hamstring injury in time to play, while Danny Rose was only named on the bench following his knee strain.
Neil Harris returned from a ban but had to settle for a place on the bench in a Lions side showing five changes from the 2-0 defeat against Swansea that ended their play-off hopes, with Josh McQuoid partnering Steve Morison in attack.
There was a real end-of-season feel to the game early on, with both sides looking short of ideas in the final third.
Morison spurned the best chance of a tame opening after 24 minutes when he forced Luke Steele into a decent save low down to his left.
Andros Townsend followed suit soon after with a shot from distance, with the Barnsley defence guilty of backing off.
The Tykes had to wait until five minutes before the break to test Millwall goalkeeper David Forde for the first time, but he was up to the task as he parried away Jason Shackell’s glanced header before on-loan Townsend had another stinging shot saved at the other end.
Needing to inject some life into his toiling attack, Barnsley boss Mark Robins opted to introduce Noble-Lazarus for Jacob Mellis at the break - and within 15 minutes the youngster had made a stunning impact.
Jacob Butterfield had already forced Forde into a good parried save with a long-range effort before youngster Noble-Lazarus took centre stage by collecting Nathan Doyle’s pass and cutting inside before drilling left footed from outside the area with a superb shot that beat Forde.
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FIXTURES, Saturday, May 7, 2011:
Championship (KO 12.45pm):
Swansea 4 Sheffield United 0 (HT:1-0)
Barnsley 1 Millwall 0 (HT:0-0)
Middlesbrough 3 Doncaster Rovers 0 (HT: 1-0)
League One (KO 3pm):
Sheffield Wed v Exeter (HT:1-0)
League Two (KO 3pm):
Chesterfield v Gillingham (HT: 1-0)
Rotherham United v Torquay (HT: 2-1)
Stevenage v Bury (HT: 2-2)