FT Reds: Watford 3 Barnsley 0

Barnsley keeper Luke Steele is unable to stop Watford's first goal
Barnsley keeper Luke Steele is unable to stop Watford's first goal
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Barnsley, beaten 5-1 by Watford earlier in the season, did little better in the return today, losing 3-0 as relegation looms larger on the horizon.

Barnsley were searching for only their second away victory in the Championship.

But the game could not have started in a worse manner as they went a goal behind after only five minutes.

The signs were there when striker Deeney rifled wide with a right-foot shot in only the second minute.

And then three minutes later the hosts were in front after some poor defending.

Skipper Dawson miscued horribly, the ball fell kindly for midfielder BATTACHIO and he beat keeper Steele with a stunning right-foot volley.

Dawson fired wide with a speculative effort at the other end, but Steele pulled off a fine point-black save to stop the Hornets from doubling their lead.

This time a clever dummy through his leg from McGugan saw Faraoni with only Steele to beat, but the former Manchester United keeper thwarted him at his near post with his reaction block.

Steele came to the rescue again with the Reds under the cosh. It was a good save from the keeper, but not as good as his earlier block.

Faraoni had another chance, but Steele saved well at his near post.

But the onslaught was relentless and the Hornets did bag a second goal to leave the Reds in the mire.

DEENEY got it in the 16th minute for his 17th goal of what is proving to be a very profitable season.

The frustration was starting to show and Dawson soon found himself the first player to be booked by referee Salisbury.

McGugan followed him into the book eight minutes later after he was penalised for a lazy challenge.

Wilson resisted the temptation to make any changes for the second half. A surprise given how poor the Reds had been in the first 45 minutes.

But the visitors at least started brightly and in the 52nd minute Wilson’s side had their first meaningful move to threaten Almunia in the Hornets’ goal.

Left-back Kennedy broke free on the flank, whipped in a cross which only sailed over the head of striker Proschwitz with Almunia beaten. It could so easily have been a goal.

Midfielder Mellis then found himself the second Reds’ player to get a yellow card for a clumsy challenge close to the centre circle.

Wilson, though, did make some changes. And not before time because the starting XI hadn’t even managed to test Almunia with a shot on target.

It was little surprise then when leading scorer O’Grady was introduced after 59 minutes and youngster Noble-Lazarus was came into to the fray.

That meant Lawrence and the lacklustre Frimpong were substituted as the Reds look to add some much-needed spice to their play.

Jennings lost the ball but did really well to win it back off Cassetti and let rip with a powerful right-foot shot, but his effort two minutes before the hour mark flew well over the bar.

It was proving to be a very frustrating afternoon for the Reds, but at least they were making a fist of it following the resumption.

A good move started by O’Grady from a quick throw resulted with the striker creating a chance at the other end, but his left-foot hooked shot flew harmlessly over.

And then the Reds were 3-0 down and seemingly out of the contest when substitute MERKEL was allowed to score one of the easiest goals of his career.

Merkel took advantage of some poor defending to fire home, completely unmarked, at the near post.

Keeper Steele got a hand on the shot, but it was too powerful to stop him pushing it away to safety. Game over.

Proschwitz then hit the bar with a lobbed shot and M’voto headed wide.

It’s little wonder Barnsleylook destined for relegation having won just one away game.

Wilson now has 11 games to help the Reds to safety, but it’s looking tough after a second successive 3-0 defeat following the visit of league leaders Leicester City on Tuesday

The 364 travelling Reds will have gone home disillusioned with their side’s inability to conjure up a single shot on target. There is still time to avoid the drop – but the signs are looking bad.