MATCH REPORT: Peterborough 3 Barnsley 4

Craig Davies shows his 6 fingers as he has 6 goals in 6 games for Barnsley.
Craig Davies shows his 6 fingers as he has 6 goals in 6 games for Barnsley.
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CRAIG Davies is painting himself a beautiful future at Barnsley.

The former League Two hitman was presented with a tough challenge to make the jump from League Two to the Championship.

But so far the former Chesterfield marksman has showed no signs of struggling, having bagged an array of colourful goals in his first season at Oakwell.

Davies’ sixth goal in as many games won this one for the hot-and-cold Reds who, having opened up a commanding three-goal cushion, nearly capitulated when they comically conceded three goals in six minutes.

However, with 12 minutes to go, it was Davies who popped up to save the day, lashing home a wonderful strike to help the Reds register their first trio of successive victories since September 2009.

Reds boss Keith Hill was understandably left perplexed at the final whistle, having experienced a rollercoaster of emotions at London Road.

“I’m thrilled that we’ve maybe got away with one,” admitted Hill. “But we could have lost the game and that could have been catastrophic for the squad and the football club.

“I’m thrilled to have won and thrilled to have seen us play so well for 65-70 minutes, but it’s very difficult to sum up my emotions after a game like that. It’s unlike my team or any team that I’ve managed to defend like we did.”

Three substitutions from Posh manager Darren Ferguson sparked a marvellous fightback from the hosts, well-accustomed to scoring goals on their home patch this term.

And if had not been for a string of superb saves from on-song shot-stopper Luke Steele - playing against his former club - then the Reds could have easily been travelling home reflecting on a defeat rather than a high-scoring win.

“He saved us the game, there’s no doubt about that,” stressed Hill.

“It would have been a real shame if we’d have lost the match.

“In the first 65 minutes we were unbelievable. Our strategy worked, we scored goals, but at times you can’t legislate for a momentum swing and the way that Peterborough played.

“We’re not the first team who have been to Peterborough and been on the end of a comeback like that, they’ve done it before against better teams than us.

“But we shouldn’t have allowed the three substitutions they made [at 3-0 down] to give them any momentum.

“You’ve got to give credit to Peterborough because of the way they played, the way they created and the way they threw bodies forward. We knew they’d do that, but we’ve got to really thank Luke Steele for not losing that game.

“At 3-0 up we’ve got to secure the centre of the pitch and not underestimate any opposition. We knew we’d score, but what happened after 65 minutes was that we didn’t defend well enough. We were left vulnerable.”

Hill was without the suspended David Perkins for the trip to Posh, which allowed Manchester United loan midfielder Danny Drinkwater to return to the fold.

And Drinkwater’s return was a big plus as he immediately gelled with skipper Jacob Butterfield in the middle of the park.

But Ricardo Vaz Te was unlucky to miss out as he dropped to the bench and Newcastle United loan striker Nile Ranger was handed his starting debut.

Otherwise the Reds kept the same team which had played so well to beat Leeds United 2-1 at Elland Road last weekend.

As early as the fourth minute, though, Steele was forced to be on his toes, saving well from Grant McCann, before George Boyd rifled a shot over from distance.

Lee Tomlin tried his luck from the edge of the area, but shot wide. It was to prove the story of his day as the midfielder wasted a hatful of chances.

And it cost Posh as Jim O’Brien popped up to put the Reds ahead with his first goal of the season in the 17th minute, his deflected shot wrong-footing keeper Joe Lewis.

Just a couple of minutes later Steele denied McCann with a smart block, before O’Brien came closed to bagging a brace, his shot flying inches wide of the left upright.

Ryan Bennett tested Steele eight minutes before the break and then saved well from Paul Taylor moments later.

The Reds did well to weather the pressure and were rewarded in first-half injury time when Butterfield hit the bottom left corner with a lovely strike to double the visitors’ lead.

Tommy Rowe headed over the bar earlier in the second half, while at the other end Butterfield shot over from distance.

But a third goal came for the Reds when Vaz Te came off the bench to net his fourth goal of the season and put Hill’s charges well and truly in control. A curling shot gave Lewis no chance.

What happened next was completely unexpected.

Ferguson’s triple change reaped immediate rewards and, after Steele saved well from Taylor, Boyd pulled a goal back with a clinical strike.

Then Posh were just one goal behind when Bennett slotted home inside the box and sub Lee Frecklington completed a remarkable turnaround with another smart finish, this time Steele beaten to his left-hand side.

Tomlin wasted some good chances in the final phase of the game before Davies put the Reds ahead again with a thunderbolt strike.

There was still time for Ryan Tunnicliffe to strike the bar before Hill and the travelling Reds supporters were able to breath a huge sigh of relief.