Match report: Barnsley 0 Bolton Wanderers 1

Chris O'Grady fights for the ball.
Chris O'Grady fights for the ball.
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Danny Wilson’s homecoming ended in huge disappointment as Barnsley were punished by a second-half Neil Danns strike for Bolton.

The Reds produced a barnstorming first-half display in Wilson’s first game in charge at Oakwell since the Premiership days of 1998, but Wanderers weathered the early storm and bounced back impressively after the break.

Barnsley v Bolton Wanderes'Jim O'Brien skips past the outstretched leg of Boltons Zat Knight

Barnsley v Bolton Wanderes'Jim O'Brien skips past the outstretched leg of Boltons Zat Knight

Buoyed presumably by a stern telling-off from their boss Dougie Freedman at half-time, the visitors upped their game significantly and Danns’ winner meant the Reds remain at the bottom of the Championship, now a worrying four points shy of the safety mark.

Wilson said: “We just can’t seem to get our noses in front, and if you don’t do that, this is what can happen.

“We were undone by a bit of real quality, though. There’s not really that much you can do about that, teams like Bolton have got quality throughout their squad.

“We just couldn’t seem to force the ball into the net when we were on top in the first half, and that’s going to keep us under pressure.”

Wilson’s first home Reds line-up in more than 15 years featured five changes from the one that started the weekend’s creditable goalless draw at Leeds United.

Some alterations were enforced with loan goalkeeper Jack Butland having been recalled by Stoke City, and Marcus Tudgay and Jacob Mellis out through suspension.

Wilson began with two strikers in Chris O’Grady - back following a calf injury - and the recalled Jason Scotland, while Stephen Dawson and Tom Kennedy were back to strengthen the midfield and defence respectively.

Former number one Luke Steele was back for his first start since being dropped in September.

After receiving a terrific reception from three noisy sides of Oakwell, Wilson went on to preside over a thoroughly decent first-half performance.

The Reds bossed it andwent close several times.

O’Grady was relishing being back in action as he was a constant thorn in Bolton’s side. He curled a sweet effort narrowly wide early on.

He then expertly teed up Jim O’Brien, but his shot was fired disappointingly straight at Andy Lonergan.

David Perkins and Darren Pratley had efforts ruled out at either end before Lonergan was twice heroic in the lead-up to the interval as he denied O’Grady and O’Brien.

Steele had to excel himself when diving full length to brilliantly palm away a powerful goal-bound header from defender Tim Rearn.

Neither manager made a change at the break, but it was Wanderers who appeared fired up once the action resumed.

Danns skipped niftily past Scott Wiseman, but his drilled effort flew just wide.

Giant centre-back Zat Knight saw a header drop a whisker past the post, while Steele charged out bravely to thwart Pratley.

Bolton’s tails were up, and they made the breakthrough they had been threatening in the 64th minute.

Danns nipped past an ineffective challenge from Wiseman before curling an exquisite shot into the far corner to beat Steele’s despairing dive.

The goal had been coming, but it was still tough on a Barnsley side who had looked so confident throughout the opening 45 minutes.

The Reds didn’t let their heads go down down and substitute Paddy McCourt did his utmost to try to haul his side back into the game.

He looked full of running and caused the Bolton back four a few headaches, but it was central midfielder David Perkins who probably fluffed the best chance to make it 1-1.

Latching on to a loose ball inside the Wanderers box, he blazed wildly over.

Danns came close to doubling the visitors’ tally late on, but that would have been a particularly bitter pill to swallow.