Walsall 1 Barnsley 3; Reds march into play-off spot

Barnsley's Ashley Fletcher celebrates his opening goal in the 3-1 win at Walsall. Photo: Keith Turner

Barnsley's Ashley Fletcher celebrates his opening goal in the 3-1 win at Walsall. Photo: Keith Turner

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Barnsley roared into the Sky Bet League One play-off positions thanks to a well-deserved 11th victory in 13 matches.

This time third-placed Walsall were the defeated side as the Reds maintained their brilliant recent momentum under caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom.

It was an end-to-end first half at the Banks’s Stadium, one that ended all square.

The woodwork saved the Reds after just 15 minutes.

Anthony Forde curled in a terrific 20-yard free-kick that bounced out off the post.

Just two minutes later the Reds responded by going in front.

It was a superb individual goal that broke the deadlock, with Manchester United loanee Ashley Fletcher taking the ball forward before burying his fourth Barnsley strike past Neil Etheridge.

Just before the half-hour mark the Saddlers evened it up.

This time, after an initial strike from Romaine Sawyers, was blocked, a suspiciously offside-looking Tom Bradshaw was on hand to knock a rebound past the stranded Adam Davies.

Referee Chris Sarginson had to be replaced by the fourth official after 37 minutes when he limped away from the action in some discomfort.

A quite wonderful goal handed the lead back to Barnsley in the 50th minute.

Fletcher tapped the ball to Josh Brownhill, and the Preston loanee drove home a breath-taking first Barnsley goal past Etheridge from 25 yards.

A truly memorable individual goal made it 3-1 to the rampant Reds in the 56th minute.

This time, loanee Harry Chapman celebrated his first league start when he ran from the halfway line before slotting unerringly past a stunned Etheridge.

Former Red Milan Lalkovic came closest to a second Walsall goal late on, but he was denied by a super Davies stop.

Walsall (4-3-2-1): Etheridge; Demetriou, Downing, O’Connor, Taylor; Chambers, Forde, Mantom; Bradshaw, K Morris; Sawyers.Subs: MacGillivray, Henry, Lalkovic, Preston, Cook, B Morris, Hiwula.

Barnsley (4-4-2): Davies; Connolly, Mawson, Roberts, G Williams; Isgrove, Hourihane, Brownhill, Chapman; Watkins, Fletcher. Subs: Townsend, Smith, Nyatanga, Scowen, Khan, Tuton, McCourt.

Referee: Gavin Ward (Surrey).

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