Reds fail to win vital home match

Marcus Tudgay scores from the spot to equalise for Barnsley
Marcus Tudgay scores from the spot to equalise for Barnsley
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So what does the future hold for Barnsley caretaker boss Micky Mellon?

Well, on this showing, not an especially bright one despite his best efforts to mastermind a victory in this basement battle.

That’s a win, a defeat and now a draw – in that order – in the Scot’s three games in charge.

Will the former Fleetwood Town manager get longer to try and revive the club’s stuttering fortunes with that form? Possibly, but unlikely because not much has changed since David Flitcroft was sacked.

Mellon has tweaked a few things and thrown caution to the wind – and he got a great win at Brighton - but the Barnsley players are just not performing like they did last season when they battled so handsomely to avoid relegation.

Having seen his side concede a comedy goal, but battle back to draw level, Mellon showed his desperation for wanting all three points when he flung centre-back Jean-Yves M’voto on as a makeshift centre-forward for the final six minutes.

It was a strange decision, but amazingly one which nearly paid off when the big Frenchman provided a flick on which striker Marcus Tudgay nearly pounced on to score.

But in truth the Reds were poor for long periods of this contest and missed the impetus of playmaker Paddy McCourt after he limped off with a hamstring injury.

McCourt’s loss could further impede their hopes of getting out of the bottom three over the Christmas period.

And with leading scorer Chris O’Grady still sidelined with a calf injury you have to worry where the goals are going to come from for the Reds.

Mellon’s side could have also been quite a few goals down if the Glovers had done better with some gilt-edged chances to build on their early lead.

Thankfully for the Reds referee Lee Probert was in a festive mood and he awarded a dubious-looking penalty to Tomasz Cywka that gave the hosts a way back into the fixture.

But the Reds remain rooted to the bottom of the table, three points adrift of safety and with plenty of hard miles left if they are going to retain their Championship status for an eighth successive season.

“It’s hard enough to win matches but when you gift goals like that it makes it even harder,” admitted Mellon, reflecting on the mix-up between loan duo Peter Ramage and Jack Butland for the Glovers’ tenth minute opener.

Crystal Palace loan centre-back Ramage left a hopeful long ball for Butland, but the Stoke City loan shot-stopper didn’t collect it and that allowed Joel Grant to pounce for one of the easiest goals of his career. It was the Jamaican striker’s second goal of the season and, to rub salt into the wound, his first for 16 games.

“I’m disappointed with their goal,” conceded Mellon. “You want teams to work a lot harder than that to score against you.

“We shot ourselves in the foot, there’s not doubt about that. But what I’m pleased about is that we never went under. We kept going.

“Their ‘keeper made a few saves and we didn’t follow up. Both teams were a bit nervy but I cannot fault the effort of our lads.

“I think it’s a case of two points lost, but I think we tried everything we could to get the win.

“We’ve got the ball down and passed it before, today we didn’t do that. It wasn’t that type of game - it was a battle. But we hung in there and had a go at them.

“We had a ten-minute spell at Burnley where we didn’t battle, but we did that today.”

Cywka and McCourt – who could be out for at least a month with his injury – both had chances in the early exchanges, as did midfielder Jacob Mellis.

But Grant’s opener put pressure on the Reds to chase the game, just the scenario they didn’t want against their fellow strugglers.

Ed Upson could have doubled the visitors’ lead, but he wasted a good chance by rifling wide of the target and then Joe Edwards crashed a powerful shot against a post.

The Reds were riding their luck and then Butland denied Ishmael Miller with a fine point-black save, although the striker was adjudged to have handballed in collecting Luke Ayling’s cross.

David Perkins tried his luck from distance with a long-range left foot shot and then Polish winger Cywka forced a smart save from Glovers keeper Chris Dunn.

Then Cywka won his dubious penalty after going down from what looked like minimal contact from Byron Webster, the former Doncaster Rovers defender.

Striker Marcus Tudgay stepped up and buried the ball with a clinical finish, his first goal in his second loan spell at Oakwell. Reds’ fans will hope there are more goals to come from the former Sheffield Wednesday hitman.

Substitute Jim O’Brien, a replacement for the injured McCourt, injected some welcome impetus.

The Scot picked out Mellis and he had a shot cleared off the line by defender Shane Duffy, before having a shot of his own deflected into the arms of Dunn.

Butland thwarted Grant with a brilliant block with his legs after the Reds had got the offside trap all wrong, before Miller, unmarked, lashed just wide on the stroke of half time.

O’Brien headed over two minutes after the restart from Scott Wiseman’s delivery, while Cywka blasted wide from distance as the hosts threw caution to the wind.

Another sub Jason Scotland grazed the top of the crossbar with a stinging drive, but Butland spilled a cross and Miller scored.

The goal was ruled out though by Wiltshire official Probert with the striker deemed offside.

Midfielder Joe Ralls shot straight at Butland with a half-volley, with Cywka firing wide with a free-kick at the other end.

Miller should have won it for the Glovers when he headed horribly wide from sub James Hayter’s cross.

M’voto made a nuisance of himself and had a header tipped behind for a corner by Dunn, but another former Doncaster player, Hayter, squandered a glorious chance to secure maximum points with three minutes remaining.

He headed over from point-blank range from a Grant cross. It was a bad miss.

There was still time for one more chance but Scotland fired his shot straight at a thankful Dunn.

A real rollecoaster, but an opportunity missed for the Reds.