Cardiff 3 Barnsley 4: Match analysis
No wonder Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom wore a broad smile when asked to weigh up his side's most dramatic of victories at Neil Warnock's in-form Cardiff City.
The Reds showed once again at the Cardiff City Stadium that they mean business in the Sky Bet Championship, earning a breathtaking win in South Wales thanks to sub Ryan Williams’ 95th-minute strike.
They had led 3-1 until 10 minutes from time, were pegged back to 3-3, but showed their tremendous character once again in going on to secure a fifth away win of an increasingly impressive campaign. Only Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle have scored more goals on the road this term than the brilliant Reds.
Heckingbottom said: “Saturday’s game really had everything. When Cardiff made it 3-3 in the 89th minute, we thought it wasn’t going to be our day.
“Rickie Lambert then had a chance to score just before we did, but fortunately it went wide.
“However, the character of our boys and the never-say-die attitude is something that we demand.
“We were very positive with our substitutions and it’s those two sets of fresh legs that’s gone on and won us the game.”
Sean Morrison headed Cardiff into an early lead, but by half-time the Reds - beaten so disappointingly at Hillsborough in midweek - had stormed into a 3-1 lead thanks to Sam Winnall’s second double in four games and Josh Scowen’s goal.
Two goals in the final 11 minutes - from Peter Whittingham and Anthony Pilkington - looked to have rescued a point for the hosts, only for Ryan Williams to snatch a 95th-minute winner to silence the home faithful.
He latched on to fellow sub Marley Watkins’ square pass into the box before slotting home to send the travelling fans into dreamland.
BOSS’S DELIGHT FOR WILLIAMS
Manager Paul Heckingbottom was delighted for Ryan Williams, who finally bagged his first goal for Barnsley on Saturday.
Australia-born Williams, now 23, joined the Reds for a three-month loan spell from Fulham at the end of 2014 and then permanently in the summer of 2015.
However, troublesome injuries have severely restricted his appearance total to just 18 during that time, with the majority of those coming off the bench.
Hopefully his first Reds goal, the dramatic 95th-minute winner at Cardiff, will give Williams a much-needed boost.
Heckingbottom said: “It’s great for Ryan. I’ve spoken to him and he’s not thinking about injuries any more.
“That’s testameent to how hard he’s worked, both mentally and physically.
“I was over the moon that it was Ryan who grabbed the winner, and with the way the lads celebrated with him afterwards.”
WINNALL AT THE DOUBLE
In recent weeks much of the talk has been about Conor Hourihane and his sparkling form in the Championship for Barnsley.
On Saturday another one of the stars from the all-conquering 2015-16 season - Sam Winnall - looked to be back to his lethal best.
Winnall again showed his value to the Reds’ team, scoring his second brace in the space of two weeks.
That’s nine for the season now, and five in his last five games. The former Scunthorpe man is getting back to his best as the Reds look to consolidate their place among the play-off chasing pack.