Reds fight for a point to keep play-off hopes alive

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Barnsley’s amazing winning streak is over, but they remain handily placed in the Sky Bet League One play-off places after securing a gritty goalless draw at Orient.

After six straight victories - an incredible sequence unequalled since back in 1980 - the Reds were held in London last night, but boss Lee Johnson will have been pleased with the strength of resolve shown by his players, and in particular a super individual effort from ‘keeper Adam Davies.

The current Reds number one made a couple of superb stops in the second half on a night which did end on a sour note when substitute Milan Lalkovic was shown a straight red card following a crude 90th-minute challenge on Nathan Clarke.

Barnsley’s first away trip to Orient since 1982 featured a slightly-tweaked starting XI following the weekend victory at Oldham.

Boss Lee Johnson restored Sam Winnall - for his first start since November - to partner George Waring up front in what was a routine 4-4-2 formation. Lalkovic dropped out of the midfield and onto the bench.

Real quality was lacking during a goalless first half, though it was the O’s who created the better chances.

Jobi McAnuff was the first to try his luck from distance, with his shot thankfully drifting high and wide.

The Reds were neat and tidy in possession, but did look a little vulnerable at the back, no more so than when unmarked defender Scott Cuthbert was allowed time to plant a header narrowly over the crossbar.

Conor Hourihane replied with a curling 25-yard free-kick which goalkeeper Alex Cisak saved comfortably, before the hosts twice went mighty close to breaking the deadlock in rapid succession.

Ex-Red Chris Dagnall was at the heart of the action, firstly heading straight at Adam Davies from a Darius Henderson cross.

Dagnall, who left Oakwell last summer after making more than 50 Barnsley appearances, then turned provider as his cross was inexplicably nodded wide of the goal by Henderson.

Davies then produced a brilliant near-post save to deny McAnuff.

Charging in to meet another Dagnall cross, McAnuff got an effort on target, only for Davies to produce a superb reaction stop.

Boss Johnson will have demanded a noticeable improvement from his players if they were to go on and extend their winning run in the second half.

The visitors started the second period encouragingly. John O’Sullivan was denied by a super Cisak stop, while Winnall charged clear, only to see his well-directed strike beaten away by the O’s first line of defence.

The hosts roared back with Luke O’Neill leaving Mason Holgate stranded before crashing a shot inches wide.

As the game entered the final quarter, it was still either side’s for the taking.

The hosts were pressing hard for a winner which may have squeezed them just outside the League One drop zone, but the Reds’ defence was standing firm.

That was until ‘keeper Davies saved the Reds again with 18 minutes left on the clock. Dagnall touched the ball into Bradley Pritchard’s path, but the midfielder was denied by a breath-taking point-blank stop when it looked easier to score.