FORGET ‘Black Friday’ the biggest giveaways last night were to be found at Oakwell.
At the end of a day when up to £1bn was expected to be splurged by shoppers desperate for a bargain, Barnsley and Nottingham Forest proved every bit as generous as those High Street retailers who had slashed prices.
Seven goals, one straight red card for stamping and enough sloppy defending to give both managers a sleepless night – that was the tale of a quite remarkable contest in South Yorkshire that Forest won thanks to being more ruthless than their hosts when presented with a gift.
Barnsley twice took the lead inside the first 14 minutes, but were ultimately let down by an inability to perform even rudimentary marking duties when Forest broke at speed. Three of Forest’s five goals came via crosses being converted by a player left on his own in the middle, while Henri Lansbury’s hat-trick clinching penalty followed a woeful error by Saidy Jancko and a clumsy challenge from Josh Scowen.
Scowen had also been culpable for the goal that had put Phillippe Montanier’s men in front for the first time on the stroke of half-time.
To compound Barnsley’s woes, Marley Watkins was shown a straight red card for stamping on Thomas Lam.
It meant a miserable end to a night that had seen the home fans pay a touching tribute to owner Patrick Cryne, who recently stepped away from the club to undergo cancer treatment, by lighting up Oakwell in the 65th minute with their mobile phones.
A banner that read ‘One made us, one saved us’ above images of clergyman – and club founder – Tiverton Preedy and Cryne was also passed above heads in the 13,180 crowd ahead of kick-off.
It was a lovely touch and one that was, initially, followed by Barnsley making the sort of bright start that will have surely pleased the man who supporters regard very much as “one of our own” for all he has done for the club.
Sam Winnall took just five minutes to open the scoring, the striker meeting James Bree’s right-wing cross with a deft header that gave Vladimir Stojkovic in the Forest goal no chance.
Lansbury cancelled out that advantage on 13 minutes with a drilled free-kick from 25 yards after Adam Jackson had been penalised for a foul, but parity lasted fewer than 60 seconds.
Watkins restored the Reds’ advantage by springing the offside trap to chest down Conor Hourihane’s floated pass and then fire past Stojkovic.
So far, so good for Barnsley. However, despite the hosts continuing to look the more threatening in attack until the hour mark had been passed, Watkins’s fourth goal of the season was as good as it got.
Forest equalised for a second time when Danny Fox’s low cross in the 24th minute was touched in by Apostolos Vellios, whose shot spun over Adam Davies and into the net.
Worse followed in the 45th minute when Scowen was caught in possession by Vellios near halfway.
It was careless from the Londoner and he was made to pay, play being spread to Osborn who then whipped in a cross for Lansbury to power in with a diving header.
No doubt the half-time cuppa tasted that bit sweeter in the away dressing room as a result, Forest’s satisfaction being added to by all three of their attacks in the first half having yielded goals.
Barnsley continued to press after the interval and Winnall went close with a header from a Watkins cross that passed just an inch or two wide of a post.
Defending, however, proved once again to be their Achilles heel and a swift break just after the hour saw Michael Mancienne’s cross finished off by the unmarked Osborn.
Watkins was sent off moments later following his off-the-ball clash with Lam and, after that, it was all about damage limitation for the hosts.
Not that Janko helped much in this respect, the substitute’s sloppy play deep in Barnsley territory leading to the night’s seventh and final goal.
Matty Cash seized on to the mistake, nudging the ball beyond Scowen before clattering into the Barnsley man.
Referee Oliver Langford pointed to the spot and Lansbury made no mistake from 12 yards to extend Barnsley’s winless run at Oakwell to seven games.
Barnsley: Davies; Bree (Janko 74), Roberts, Jackson, Yiadom; Watkins, Scowen, Hourihane, Hammill; Armstrong (Bradshaw 65), Winnall (Williams 86). Unused substitutes: Townsend, MacDonald, Morsy, Kent.
Nottingham Forest: Stojkovic; Mills, Perquis, Worrall; Mancienne (Vaughan 85), Lam. Lansbury, Kasami, Fox (Cash 75); Osborne; Vellios (Bendtner 70). Unused substitutes: Henderson, Carayol, Lica, Grant.
Referee: O Langford (West Midlands).