Southend United 0 Barnsley 3: Reds lay huge marker in top two battle
As far as statements that Barnsley are not about to fade away in the League One automatic promotion race go, this was as big as they get.
When Jacob Brown was sent off 10 minutes before half-time for a nasty challenge on Sam Mantom, with the game still goalless, the prospect of three points, or even extending their unbeaten run, ought to have diminished.
But Daniel Stendel's side showed they are the real deal as they put on a show in the televised lunchtime kick-off, cantering to a 3-0 win that sent out a message to their promotion rivals.
Although Sunderland and Portsmouth reeled them back in the 3pm kick-offs, the Reds showed they are here to stay, two points ahead of the third-placed Black Cats, who have a game in hand.
It was a case of Kieffer who at Roots Hall as they made light of their leading striker's injury absence for the rest of the season, with Cameron McGeehan, Cauley Woodrow and Jordan Green banging the goals in.
There have been several Red Letter days for the Reds on the road this season, but this has to be up there with the best of them.
“It was one of the best performances of the season but we’ve played well in a lot of games,” said a beaming Stendel.
“We’ve shown here how we can play and it was a good win.
“At half-time I said we could win the game but in the second half it was more important to play with heart.
“I’m so proud of the performance and in the end it was a deserved win.
“We worked very hard and we work hard in between the games too.
“We showed today that we’re very strong in the head but there’s a long way to go.
“There’s 11 games to go but we’ll only look at the next one.”
Such a resounding victory was not on the cards after Brown saw red in the 35th minute, even though Barnsley had been the better side.
But they only needed 10 men after the break as McGeehan put them ahead five minutes after the restart with a low shot and then Woodrow bagged his 14th of the season when he converted Mike Bahre's through ball.
Green completed the rout in time added on as the rest of the division could not have helped but sit up and take note.