Barnsley 1 Chesterfield 2: Derby win eases Spireites drop fears as Barnsley fall behind in race for play-offs
It proved to be a huge case of '˜after the lord mayor's show' for Barnsley as they were brought firmly back down to earth by two-time former boss Danny Wilson and his 10-man Chesterfield side.
It had been an absolutely perfect week for the Reds.
The sun shone brightly in London six days earlier as they won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final at a packed Wembley Stadium in such heroic style.
The players and staff later paraded the silverware in the town’s streets as thousands of Barnsley folk saluted them.
Caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom was named the Sky Bet League One manager of the month on Friday, and seemingly nothing at all could go wrong.
That was until Chesterfield rolled into Oakwell.
Fighting for their lives at the wrong end of the table while the Reds were looking to roar back towards the play-off positions, the Spireites spoiled the Barnsley party, triumphing thanks to Ollie Banks’ late winner, despite having Jamal Campbell-Ryce sent off shortly before that decisive moment.
It’s little wonder Heckingbottom cut a rather deflated figure when weighing up what had gone on in front of a bumper crowd at Oakwell.
He said: “We’re obviously disappointed with the result, but I can’t be too disappointed with the performance.
“I felt with the ball we played well, and we created chances. We’ve won games playing nowhere near as well as that, and creating nowhere near as many chances.
“In this game we were killed for not doing the other side of the game. The lads have done everything we asked them to do. The energy was there and so was the willingness to get up the pitch.
“It was just the non-negotiable bits that we’ve done so well recently, that we didn’t get right in this game.”
As for Heckingbottom’s opposite number Wilson, of course he delighted, and relieved, to have sunk his former employers in dramatic late fashion.
The former Barnsley hero said: “What a fantastic three points this is. We knew it would be tough and we had to defend for our lives, particularly late on when we were down to ten. But if we’d have tried to sit back and play for a draw, we would probably have been beaten.
“We were aggressive in our attacking play and with the team I put out, I was confident that we could go and win the game.
“Barnsley created a lot of chances, but I don’t think anyone out there could begrudge us the win.”
The party atmosphere inside and outside Oakwell was already kicking in when the pre-match team news was revealed at shortly after 2pm.
Heckingbottom made one alteration to the team which had started at Wembley with James Bree getting the nod at right back at the expense of George Williams, who was on the bench.
Wilson made two changes to his Spireites starting line-up from the previous weekend’s thumping 4-2 win against play-off chasing Port Vale, Jay O’Shea and Gboly Ariyibi earning recalls.
Once the raucous atmosphere and a noisy welcome had died dow the match itself was much less sparkling, particularly in the first period.
Lloyd Isgrove was denied by a superb Tommy Lee save fter he had been teed up by Alfie Mawson, but at the other end Ariyibi responded with an arrowing drive which flew narrowly wide.
Barnsley’s leading scorer Sam Winnall thought he’d broken the deadlock just beyond the half-hour, but his effort from a Bree cross was again well saved by Lee.
Reds fans were screaming for a penalty kick shortly after the restart when a shot from Winnall appeared to strike the arm of Drew Talbot, but referee Swarbrick was unmoved.
Most of the goalmouth action came in the second half.
Just before the hour the Reds’ defence was finally breached, by Lee Novak. The former Huddersfield man leapt well to head home a deflected cross from Ariyibi, and the Spireites faithful went wild.
However, while they were still finishing celebrating, Barnsley almost provided the prefect reposte.
Isgrove fired in a super strike, but his shot bounced out off the post.
Mawson headed over as the Reds pressed, and they did get their leveller with 15 minutes to go when Wembley hero Hammill struck, though this effort flew into the top corner of Lee’s net via a significant deflection.
When Campbell-Ryce was ordered off three minutes later after being shown a second yellow card, the hosts must have felt the game was theirs to go and snatch.
However, credit to the Spireites, as they went and sealed a potentially priceless three points when Banks tapped home as he met another precise Ariyibi cross.
There was a frantic finale from Barnsley as Conor Hourihane was denied by a goal-line clearance and Marc Roberts hit the post, but they couldn’t find another breakthrough so the play-off dream now looks to be drifting away.
Barnsley, at home to Oxford tomorrow’, are six points behind sixth-placed Walsall.
Spireites have bumper home clash against Sheffield United on Saturday.
BARNSLEY (4-4-2): Davies 6; Bree 6, Mawson 7, Roberts 7, White 5 (Chapman 90, 5); Isgrove 6 (Watkins 63, 6), Brownhill 7, Hourihane 5, Hammill 8; Fletcher 6 (Toney 63, 6), Winnall 7.
Subs not used: Townsend, Scowen, Nyatanga, G Williams.
GOAL: Hammill 75.
BOOKED: Hammill (83).
CHESTERFIELD (4-3-3): Lee 8; Hird 7, Anderson 6, Raglan 7, Talbot 5; O’Shea 7, Liddle 6, Banks 8; Campbell-Ryce 4, Novak 8 (Slew 90, 5), Ariyibi 7.
Subs not used: Herd, Ebanks-Blake, Dimaio, Donohue, Chapman, Orrell.
goals: Novak 57, Banks 81
BOOKED: Lee (70), Campbell-Ryce (76).
SENT OFF: Campbell-Ryce (78).
REF: Neil Swarbrick (Preston).