BARNSLEY manager Danny Wilson had no sympathy for one-time Bayern Munich hopeful Dale Jennings after he was dismissed on the opening day for the second successive season.
The winger, whose career in Germany was blighted by a knee injury, lasted just five minutes of his debut off the bench at Oakwell last season following a nasty lunge on Wigan’s James McArthur.
This time, the £250,000 signing had looked the most likely Barnsley player to break the deadlock until he saw red in the 62nd minute when he grabbed Gwion Edwards by the throat after a late challenge by the Crawley midfield man.
Referee Jeremy Simpson had no option but to dismiss the Liverpudlian even though the home fans were infuriated by the decision.
Wilson fumed: “Stupid, there’s only one word for it – stupid. He got hold of him around the throat and the referee had no choice.
“It was barmy. Yes, he had been fouled and I have to say it was a bad foul, but when you lift your hands in this day and age that is the punishment you get.
“It cost us the game because there was nothing between the teams at that stage. Going into the latter stages of the game, particularly being at home and with a head of steam up, we had a chance of wining the game but the sending-off cost us. You can imagine what I said to him.”
Reds captain and central defender Martin Cranie admitted: “We didn’t need that really.
“But we got done by a set piece which should not have happened no matter how many you have on the pitch.
“In the second half, just as we were starting to get on top, Dale had a moment of madness and it was backs against the wall after that but we handled it quite well only to concede from a set piece.”
Of Jennings, one of just four players who had worn the shirt before, Cranie continued: “Dale is not an aggressive lad whatsoever.
“It was out of character, but he will know full well that you can’t raise your hands up against an opponent.
“He’ll be out for three games now and that will be a big loss for us and he will have to work on the training pitch to get back in the team.
“He brings a lot of quality to the team, there’s no doubt about that. He held up his hands in the dressing room and admitted he had done wrong and apologised to the lads. Let’s hope he learns from it.”
The fact that relegated Barnsley had seven debutants – plus two others who came off the bench – could not be used as an excuse because visitors Crawley fielded eight.
They had the most potent striker on the pitch, however, in the experienced Izale McLeod, who headed home the 81st-minute winning goal from five yards, racing in unmarked to meet a corner from Conor Henderson.
McLeod had flashed a first-half header narrowly wide and captain Josh Simpson had seen a shot from the edge of the area strike the base of a post.
The Crawley captain was also denied by a last-ditch lunge in the six-yard area by Hull loanee Joe Dudgeon, a challenge which forced Simpson to retire at the break.
Without him, lone frontman McLeod had little support and Barnsley were looking the most likely side to break the deadlock.
Jennings, who had forced a flying save from Brian Jensen in the first period, headed narrowly over and Sam Winnall failed to make proper connection with a shot on goal from 12 yards.
Once they had gone behind, however, the 10 men offered little threat until stoppage time when substitute Nana Boakye-Yiadom glanced a header wide.
It was poor reward for the majority of the 10,105 crowd, but the one thing they did have to cheer was the pre-match signing of striker Leroy Lita, who should be as big a threat at this level as is McLeod.
The 29-year-old free agent has signed a one-year deal with the club, having another 12-month option, after being released by Swansea City.
The former England Under-21’s career has taken him from Bristol City to Reading and on to Middlesbrough where he scored 20 goals in 81 games before a £1.75m move to the Swans and loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday, Birmingham and Brighton.
Wilson only wished Lita had been available on Saturday.
“We have a lot to work on and you saw what we needed – a goal threat and that’s what we have brought Leroy in for,” he said.
“Hopefully, we can start being more of a threat than we were (on Saturday). He has a good record and would have been fantastic for us. The thing with Leroy is give him a chance and he will take it, that’s what he is good at.
“He’s a goalscorer and that bit of quality might have been the difference, but with a bit of luck he’ll be ready for us on Tuesday.”
That is when Barnsley entertain Crewe in the League Cup and Cranie added: “I saw Leroy before the game and hopefully he can bring a lot of goals to the team.
“Leroy is a Championship-quality striker, but he didn’t have a club so Barnsley got in touch and he thought it was the right move for him.”
Barnsley: Davies, Brown, Cranie, Nyatanga, Dudgeon; Berry (Boakye-Yiadom 78), Bailey, Hourihane, Jennings; Winnall, Rose (Treacy 66). Unused substitutes: Dibble, Digby, M’Voto, Abbott, Bree.
Crawley Town: Jensen, Oyebanjo, Leacock, Walsh, Dickson; Simpson (Bawling 46), Young (Banya 55), Smith, Henderson, Edwards; McLeod. Unused substitutes: Spiegel, Bradley, Rose, Tomlin, O’Connor.
Referee: J Simpson (Lancs).