Barnsley’s 2014-15 campaign in Sky Bet League One is now well and truly up and running after they breezed to an easy victory against Gillingham in front of almost 10,000 at Oakwell.
Danny Wilson’s confidence-fuelled Reds have now pocketed an impressive seven points from their last three games, with Saturday’s dominant win against former England caretaker boss Peter Taylor’s Gills also being their first at Oakwell this term.
After firing blanks in the opening two matches of the season against Crawley and then Crewe in the Capital One Cup, the new-look Reds now appear to have clicked into gear following May’s relegation from the Championship.
The goals were spread around against the Gills - who have still won at Oakwell just the once in their history, back in 1968 - with Sam Winnall bagging his first of the season and loan teenager Devante Cole also on target in the second half - as his proud dad Andy watched from the stand.
Of course wholesale changes were needed to the Barnsley squad following the disappointment of last season, but the players Wilson now has at his disposal now look to be gelling, there’s balance in the team, and hopefully a push for promotion will follow if this early momentum can be maintained.
However, despite the Reds’ most convincing win in quite some considerable time, boss Wilson still wasn’t satisfied.
Weighing up his team’s performance after the game, he said: “Four goals at home and three points in the bag would please most people I know, but I can be a funny old so-and-so and I’m never satisfied.
“We didn’t always have that urgency about our game in the first half, and even at 2-0 up we still weren’t really firing on all cylinders.
“To be honest I had a few words with the players at half-time.
“In the second half we were much better There was much more pace and tempo about our game and in the end we’ve been worthy winners.
“I don’t think anyone could complain about the final scoreline.
“These last three games (including the away win at Crewe and the 2-2 draw at Coventry) have been very encouraging, so we just have to keep this momentum going now.”
Following the decent performance in the midweek draw at Coventry, Wilson made just one change to his starting line-up, and that was enforced.
Midfielder James Bailey was ruled out of contention by a thigh injury, so in stepped youngster Brad Abbott for his senior Reds debut.
Gillingham, who had also won, drawn and lost in their opening three fixtures, featured three changes to their line-up following a 2-2 draw with Swindon, as Ben Dickenson, Jermaine McGlashan and Aaron Morris were recalled.
It was an uneventful opening 20 minutes as both sides struggled to fashion clear-cut opportunities.
However, the game was lit up by a spectacular opening goal from Conor Hourihane, who notched his second goal in as many games.
The former Plymouth favourite cracked home a superb 25-yard drive after being neatly tee’d up by Reece Brown.
Brown was again the provider as the Reds went two clear on the half-hour mark.
This time Brown’s deep cross was met by the head of ex-Scunthorpe ace Winnall who nodded down into goal past stranded ‘keeper Stephen Bywater.
McGlashan fluffed the Gills’ best chance of a reply before half-time when he blasted wide from just inside the box.
Nineteen-year-old Cole then made an almost immediate impact as he made it 3-0 just five minutes after coming on as a substitute to replace Leroy Lita.
Cole, on loan from Manchester City, surged in to meet Joe Dudgeon’s low near-post cross and volleyed clinically into the roof of the net.
That was pretty much game over for the Gills. as boss Taylor later acknowledged, but the visitors did respond with a goal four minutes later.
Dudgeon upended the dangerous McGlashan in the box and referee Mr Berry pointed straight to the spot.
Danny Kedwell saw his initial effort brilliantly saved by Adam Davies, but the ball rebounded back kindly into the striker’s path and he tapped home from three yards.
It didn’t take long for the rampant Reds to restore their three-goal advantage, however.
Four minutes later another sub, Dale Jennings, celebrated his return to action following a three-game suspension as he tucked home from an acute angle after Hourihane’s free-kick had been blocked by the defensive wall.
There was even time for another sub - Kane Hemmings - to smash a shot against the foot of a post, but the home faithful were always going to be extremely satisfied with this outcome - the Reds are in form and have got that winning feeling back at long last.