Barnsley 1 Middlesbrough 0: A milestone afternoon for the Reds as Boro plumb the depths

THE REACTION seventeen minutes from time and at the final whistle said it all.

Oakwell.
Oakwell.

Conor Chaplin's 12th goal of the season to deservedly settle this contest between two relegation-threatened side in Barnsley's favour was the cue to a mass explosion of joy - and there was also scenes to behold at the end from the home contingent.

Contrast that with the scenes in the dejected away enclosure, with a fair bit of anger expressed too in the direction of Boro's players after an insipid performance which did not so much as deliver an effort on goal.

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The chorus of 'You're not fit to wear the shirt' was damning from the 3,999 Boro contingent.

After a poor performance against Wigan, a wretched one against Luton, Boro plumbed the depths with the joy all belonging to Barnsley.

A first clean sheet at Oakwell since the first day of the season was wholly welcome and a long time in coming. A keynote victory following the exhilaration of Fulham was the main exercise, with Barnsley heading to Hull on Wednesday with wind in their sails.

It was they who showed the aptitude, desire and fight.,

One side in Barnsley came into this game with an inkling of hope and the other collectively had their chins on the floor after a seven-match winless streak and it showed in the first half action.

Boosted by the adrenalin-rush of a seismic 3-0 victory at Fulham, Barnsley displayed the energy and conviction on show, safe from a decent first few minutes from Boro, which proved an illusion.

Without a win in nine matches in all competitions, Boro looked what they are - a side bang out of form, a worrying development ahead of teak-tough appointments with Leeds United and Nottingham Forest.

Disjointed and ponderous, Boro failed to move on from poor displays against fellow strugglers Luton and Wigan, but while the performance level was pretty presentable from Barnsley, who had few defensive scares either, the scoreline should have proved a source of frustration.

With captain Alex Mowatt again at the hub for Barnsley and wing-backs Klian Ludewig and Clarke Oduor well in the game and others in red being proactive in their efforts, there was plenty to admire in poor, wind-hit conditions from those in home jerseys.

Their best spell of dominance saw Mowatt's low drive deflected just wide and from the resulting corner, Chaplin fired wide when well-placed.

The Championship's player-of-the-month fro December also tested Aynsley Pears ahead of the break after good work by Mowatt and Oduor, with the half-time whistle a relieving one for Boro - who received a few jeers from their big away contingent at the interval.

Second-best in midfield, the Teessiders struggled to get Ravel Morrison into the game, while old stager defenders Ryan Shotton and George Friend both looked vulnerable against Barnsley's nimble forwards.

Boro laboured in the conditions, but given that they were the same for both sides, it was a lame excuse.

Woodgate resisted the urge to make justifiable interval changes and kept his powder dry, with their best hope of a goal seeming to arrive at the feet of midfielder Lewis Wing, who had struck three times in his previous two away games.

Wing, who had Boro's best first-half moments, seeing a goalbound shot blocked and firing wide, went closer seven minutes after the break, with his low free-kick flying inches wide.

At the other end, the irrepressible Mowatt, displaying the main vestiges of quality, fired over with the breakthrough being stubborn in its refusal to arrive in a half which got increasingly scrappy and lifeless.

A rare sight of goal saw Cauley Woodrow fire straight at Pears before the breakthrough arrived thanks to Chaplin - and Boro could have few complaints.

Oduor's cross was headed back by Brown to Chaplin and after staying on his feet after his effort hit the bar, he stayed alert to fire in the rebound.