FT Reds: Barnsley 1 Millwall 0

Barnsley's Dale Jennings heads up with Ryan Fredericks.
Barnsley's Dale Jennings heads up with Ryan Fredericks.
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So it was back to Oakwell for the Reds on a calm, Spring-like afternoon - though whether the majority of fans inside the stadium would remain calm over the next hour-and-a-half was down to the players of course.

This was certainly a great chance for the stuttering Reds to bag a priceless three points against a Millwall side who, like the hosts, were on a miserable run of just one win from their last 13 league and cup matches.

The Lions began the day five points clear of Barnsley, though Wilson’s men have a game in hand.

Millwall are not happy travellers, however. Winless away in 12 attempts in league and cup Ian Holloway’s side also had the leakiest defence in the Championship, having conceded 59 goals.

Early signs were good and the Reds shot themselves into the lead after just four minutes.

It was a straight-forward strike. Cranie lifted a long but accurate pass perfectly into the path of O’BRIEN, who coolly skipped past centre-back Shittu before slotting a low shot past ‘keeper Forde and into the net to register his third goal of the season.

It was a perfect start and it almost got even better in the ninth minute. Jennings scooted down the left wing before crossing in low for O’Grady, only for the big striker to scoop high over.

Both managers looked a little agitated as they stood beside one another in the technical areas, but it was Wilson who showed his frustration as another gilt-edged opportunity went begging.

The Reds were well on top, and when Jennings pounced on a loose ball and charged one-on-one towards Forde, the Oakwell faithful expected to see a second goal.

However, Jennings fluffed his chance badly as he side-footed a shot meekly at the ‘keeper.

At the other end the Lions threatened for the first time, but skipper Cranie was there to throw his body bravely in front of a powerful goal-bound strike from McDonald.

The Lions threatened again when Woolford did well to find space and set the lively Campbell free, but he took the ball a little too wide and could only manage to fire a left-foot strike into the side-netting.

The Reds managed to ride out the Millwall storm without conceding an equaliser and the hosts came close to a second goal two minutes before the break.

Jennings’ corner-kick was headed towards goal by Ramage, but Malone was there to flick the ball clear with Forde well beaten.

It had been a satisfactory first-half showing, and the Reds went in one goal up.

Reds boss Wilson was the only manager to make a change at the break, with the largely ineffective Mellis being replaced by Dawson.

The substitute was the first to threaten when he fired over the top from 20 yards after a neat cross from O’Grady wasn’t cleared by the Lions defence and the Reds made it to the hour mark with no threats from Millwall.

Dawson fired another strike narrowly wide of the post before Millwall boss Holloway decided it was time to make a change, with Feeney coming on to replace the disappointing Upson.

Proschwitz was replaced by Shea as Wilson clearly felt his front-line needed freshening up, but the hosts kept the pressure on.

Right-back Hunt curled in a cracking cross which fell invitingly to O’Grady, only for the Reds’ striker to completely mis-cue his attempted shot and the ball was cleared.

With the final 20 minutes approaching a potentially killer second goal was now badly needed, but the ball just wouldn’t fall kindly enough in the box.

Jennings fired in an angled strike, but Lowry was there to block in the nick of time.

The Lions were beginning to apply some pressure as they finally realised it was time to look for a leveller, with Steele twice coming to the Reds’ rescue.

Williams was thwarted as the clock ticked down, then a point-blank stop from the disbelieving Campbell kept the score at 1-0.

Drama followed at the other end, however, when Forde produced an exceptional double-stop to keep out Jennings and then the unlucky O’Grady.

However, it mattered not as the brave Reds held out for a narrow victory which edges them that bit closer to the Championship safety line.