Barnsley 6 Rochdale 1: It was a perfect day, reflects Johnson

Sam Winnall.
Sam Winnall.
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STRIKER Sam Winnall scored his first Football League hat-trick as Barnsley made made it five wins from their last six league games.

Winnall followed up his double at Shrewsbury the previous Saturday with three this time and Alfie Mawson was also on the mark for a second successive game. Their respective fellow striker and central defender Marley Watkins and Kevin Long added the others to help move the Reds within a point of mid-table visitors Rochdale.

What's the score?

What's the score?

Reds coach Lee Johnson had aimed to name an unchanged side but injury ruled out Aidan White.

George Williams, who has been on loan at Barrow and has not featured for Barnsley since the opening game of the season, came in at left-back as the Reds went 4-4-2.

Former Reds chief Keith Hill posted Callum Camps in front of the defence and employed a lone striker in Calvin Andrew, with Ian Henderson operating behind him.

Former Barnsley player Jim McNulty was in the Rochdale defence with ex-Reds striker Reuben Noble-Lazarus on the bench.

Barnsley.

Barnsley.

It did not take Barnsley long to go ahead, Adam Hammill being upended near the corner of the area and curling in the free-kick for Mawson to head home his sixth goal of the season in the eighth minute.

Hammill also volleyed a yard over and lobbed Josh Lillis under pressure from Andy Cannon but the ball went wide shortly after the Rochdale goalkeeper had raced out of his area to make a sliding tackle on Marley Watkins.

At the other end, Williams made the clearance following a dangerous long throw from the left.

But it was Barnsley who finished the half strongly, Sam Winnall, at full stretch, failing to get enough power on a shot to seriously test Lillis after a sweeping move down the right.

They soon made their dominance count after the break as a clever flick by Marley Watkins released Hammill down the left and his low cross was expertly tucked home at the near post by Sam Winnall for his 13th goal of the season.

Hill made a triple substitution on 59 minutes in a bid to get back into it, Joe Bunney, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Jamie Allen coming on.

However, it was Barnsley who went close again, Lillis beating away a fierce cross-shot from Winnall, who set up Conor Hourihane to sidefoot wide when he should have scored.

Against the run of play, however, Mendez-Laing headed home inside the far post from Michael Rose’s inswinging 65th-minute corner after Kevin Long had headed out a cross from Peter Vincenti.

James Bree got in a good block on Bunney before a Barnsley substitute made a dramatic intervention. Ashley Fletcher replaced Lloyd Isgrove and immediately sped down the right and crossed low for Winnall to steer the ball inside the far post to make it 3-1 in the 69th minute.

The return of Josh Scowen from a lengthy knee injury lay-off was greeted with warm applause as he replaced Josh Brownhill in the Reds midfield in the 79th minute and and it was soon 4-1 as the ball was threaded through for Watkins to blast home in the 84th minute.

Watkins then headed home the fifth after the ball had been pumped forward and Fletcher had got his head to the ball before Lillis could make the punch on the edge of the area.

Hammill took a knock and was off the field as the ball came in from the left and Long made it six.

“The feeling is one of pure elation,” said Johnson. “I’m delighted for everybody, especially the lads, we scored goals and Sam’s got his hat-trick and everybody’s in form.

“I’m delighted for the fans because it’s nice to put on a good show at home and I’m thrilled for the staff because it was always going to be a tough game.

“Once we scored the third it always looked like we were going to produce a rout, we’ve done that and given the fans something to buzz about for the next few days.

“Today was good all round and it has been a perfect day.”