Barnsley: Dale of tears

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So much for a bright future!

Well, in fairness, Barnsley did come up against a side in Wigan who, even at this early stage in proceedings, could be heading for a return to the Premier League if they can reproduce this type of form.

Dale Jennings is given his marching orders on his Barnsley debut. Picture: Keith Turner.

Dale Jennings is given his marching orders on his Barnsley debut. Picture: Keith Turner.

Last season’s FA Cup winners won at a canter as they scored four goals on the opening day of the new season and, in truth, could and should have had more.

The Reds were woeful at times andboss David Flitcroft admitted his team needed to “go back to the drawing board”.

In 90 minutes of football the Reds didn’t have a shot on target. The Latics’ new keeper, Scott Carson, hardly touched the ball in what was arguably the easiest debut of his career.

Not that the Reds helped themselves. After they had conceded a second goal nine minutes after the break, substitute Dale Jennings was soon shown a red card for a reckless two-footed challenge on Shaun Maloney.

“There have been disappointing aspects to our work, but I’ve told the players we’ll go back to the drawing board and we’ll try and get some answers together,” admitted Flitcroft.

“I think Wigan’s second goal gave them a massive confidence boost. It could have been the turning point.

“We were all over the show in the second half, it was a de-fragmented team in the second half.

“Once they’d scored they were on the up and the positive was there. There was no apprehension about their performance and it was dominance.

“I thought Wigan were devastating. Once they scored their first goal we struggled to come terms with it.

“The second goal deflated us. Then Dale got sent off and you’re chasing Wigan with ten men.”

Flitcroft put a brave face on his side’s defeat, but he remains confident about the bigger picture at Oakwell and a bright future ahead.

The arrival of a top striker to join forces with Chris O’Grady, Jason Scotland and Chris Dagnall would be welcomed, but moves for former Sheffield United and Doncaster Rovers centre-forward Billy Sharp or former Peterborough United marksman Aaron McLean have yet to bear fruition.

And Flitcroft denied that he has even spoken to Sharp about the possibility of luring the Sheffield-born striker to Oakwell.

“We’re interested in a lot of players,” said Flitcroft. “We’ve been talking to a lot of players, but we’ve not had contact with Billy Sharp.

“But we’re certainly looking for players to improve this group. We’re looking for players to improve this football club.”

With regards to Hull City hitman McLean, Flitcroft added: “We’ve spoken to his club, but we’ve not been able to sort anything out, so we’ll continue to look everywhere.

“We’re looking for a striker, but we’re looking at all positions. We’ve got to keep improving what we’re doing.

“We’ve had the backing off the board to keep improving - and that’s what I’ll look to do.”

Signing new players remains a key objective for Flitcroft, but bouncing back from their dismal defeat is now the priority.

And the Reds have the ideal chance to do that tomorrow night when they host Scunthorpe United in the Capital One Cup first round.

One thing’s for sure, the Reds’ leaky defence will need to be tighter if they are going to make progress in the cups and league this season.

Maloney forced a smart save from Reds skipper Luke Steele after only 13 minutes, while Leon Barnett had a penalty appeal turned down after a clash with left-back Scott Golbourne.

The Reds had chances when Jacob Mellis had a right-foot shot charged down inside the Latics’ penalty area and then fellow midfielder Stephen Dawson lashed well over from distance.

But then Ben Watson - by far the best player on the field - rifled a thunderbolt right-foot shot into the bottom left-hand corner eight minutes before half-time. Steele stood no chance.

It could easily have been 2-0 t but James McCarthy had a shot blocked by Steele at his post.

Jean Beausejour shot over early after the resumption and Goldbourne made a fine goal-line clearance from McArthur’s goal-bound shot.

The pressure was too much and Holt pounced in the 54th minute to force skipper Emmerson Boyce’s cross beyond Steele.

Tom Kennedy made an excellent goal-line clearance soon after following a goalmouth scramble, then Scott Wiseman threw himself in the way of a shot from Holt.

Jennings came on and the former Bayern Munich midfielder quickly lost his cool, leaving Maloney in a heap by the centre circle as referee Geoff Eltringham ended his afternoon with a red card.

To rub salt into an already gaping wound Barnett shrugged off the attentions of O’Grady from a corner-kick and prodded home at the second time of asking.

Maloney capped a fine performance from the Latics with a tap-in three minutes from time.

Jennings is banned for three matches and the Reds have plenty of work to do.