Barnsley 2 Birmingham City 2: 'We were terrific with ten men' - Paul Heckingbottom

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TEN-MEN Barnsley dug deep to claim a thoroughly-deserved point after showing tenacity and spirit aplenty in a 2-2 draw with Birmingham.

The game turned on the 52nd-minute dismissal of Marc Roberts, who brought down Che Adams when he bore down on goal, with interval substitute Lukas Jutkiewicz slamming home the penalty to make it 2-2.

Earlier, goals from Tom Bradshaw and Sam Winnall had put the Reds 2-0 up inside half an hour, only for Jacques Maghoma to soon pull one back.

After Blues' leveller, it looked like being a long second half for the hosts, but to their credit, the Reds - on a day when Oakwell rose as one to remember club legend Norman Rimmington following his sad passing - showed character to the Oakwell icon would have appreciated and looked the side most likely to win it in the final half-hour.

Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom said: "It's a difficult one to sum up because at 2-1 up at half-time, I was pleased with our energy and the way we pressed. I'd be disappointed if our game didn't have high energy - but I thought we weren't good with the ball.

"I was probably happier with the second half. We were terrific with 10 men and arguably created the best chances.

"I was really pleased with the goals we scored as they were ones we've worked on, which is always pleasing.

"I honestly don't set any targets. We'll give everything, every day. That's part of your responsibility, to try hard."

For the major chunks of the opening half, it was easy to see why these well-matched sides were next to each other in the table ahead of kick-off, only for a flurry of three goals in nine minutes either side of the half-hour to liven up proceedings.

The Reds got their noses in front with a quality goal 24 minutes in with fine play down the right from the recalled Marley Watkins, who evaded several challenges in an excellent run, ending with his cross being latched onto by Bradshaw, who coolly finished low past Tomasz Kuszczak for his fourth goal of the campaign.

Midlander Winnall then dined out on Blues' meek defence for the second time in a month, heading home unmarked following Conor Hourihane's inswinging corner to double the Reds' lead with his 11th strike of the season just before the half-hour mark.

Winnall went desperately close to his second and Barnsley's third soon after, with the striker destined to nod into an empty net after Watkins' deflected looping shot sailed in his direction, only for Kuszczak to claw the ball away in the nick of time.

It proved a key moment with Blues pulling one back not long after in the 33rd minute.

A slick raid down the left ended with Che Adams supplying ex-Sheffield Wednesday winger Jaques Maghoma and he steered the ball home low past Adam Davies.

A game-turning moment on the restart then arrived seven minutes in when Adams was sent clear, with Roberts promptly bundling into him as the Reds rearguard was momentarily unhinged with referee Scott Duncan subsequently pointing to the spot and brandishing the red card to the home defender.

Interval substitute Lukas Jutkiewicz assumed spot-kick responsibilities and blasted the ball emphatically home in the middle of the goal to restore parity.

Paul Heckingbottom soon introduced Josh Scowen and Adam Jackson, with Ryan Kent and Bradshaw making way, in a bid to add some defensive and midfield cover in a sensible move.

With a numerical superiority, Blues were afforded plenty of possession and spurned the chance to take the lead when Jonathan Spector was played in down the right, only to lack composure when well placed and fire wide.

Commendably, the Reds held firm and showed spirit and tenacity at the other end and went desperately close to re-taking the lead with only a brilliant tip over from Kuszacak denying Winnall after he reacted quickest to James Bree's punt forward.

It was turning into a rip-roaring game akin to a cup tie and Winnall spurned a great chance to put the hosts ahead again 17 minutes from time, only to wastefully head wide of a gaping goal when unmarked following Scowen's excellent centre.

Blues soon announced themselves again on proceedings with ex-Red David Cotterill's free-kick drifting inches wide with Davies beaten.

Morsy then stung the palm of Kuszczak with a low drive as the unrelenting Reds spied a famous win, with the hosts surviving a scare at the other end when Maghoma's header flashed across goal and Angus MacDonald made a saving clearance.

Barnsley: Davies; Bree, Roberts, MacDonald, Yiadom; Watkins, Hourihane, Morsy, Kent (Scowen 55); Winnall, Bradshaw (Jackson 55). Substitutes unused: Townsend, White, Williams, Armstrong, J Brown.

Birmingham City: Kuszczak; Spector, Morrison, Shotton, Grounds; Gleeson; Stewart (Cotterill 46), Kieftenbeld (Jutkiewicz 46), Davis, Maghoma; Adams. Substitutes unused: Legzdins, Robinson, Tesche, R Brown, Dacres-Copley.

Referee: S Duncan (Northumberland).

Attendance: 13,297 (1,350 Birmingham supporters).