American dream for Daryl Dike at Barnsley
Jordan Williams compared Barnsley team-mate Daryl Dike to Inter Milan star Romelu Lukaku following the American international’s stunning winner against Birmingham City.
The on-loan striker notched for the third time since his deadline-day arrival from the MLS when he rifled a ferocious strike into the roof of the Blues’ net, deciding Saturday’s Championship showdown at Oakwell in the process.
And 21-year-old Williams said that the explosive power which Dike possesses in his right foot reminds him of how ex-Manchester United goal-getter Lukaku strikes a football.
“It was a great goal from Dike to win us the game,” Williams reflected.
“I’ve seen it before [in training], it’s not the first time I’ve seen that. He’s got a rocket of a right foot, I’ve seen shots fly in the top corner a few times .
“I think he’s similar to Lukaku, to be fair. Lukaku has got a rocket of a foot and Dike’s not far behind, I don’t think.
“He hasn’t scored as many goals yet, but he can hit a ball as hard as him, I would say.
“He’s only 20 years of age. It’s amazing.”
Dike swapped the somewhat sunnier climes of central Florida for a harsh South Yorkshire winter when he made his loan switch from Orlando City at the end of January, but in spite of his relatively tender years, seems to have had no problem settling in at Oakwell.
Saturday’s screamer followed accomplished finishes against Stoke and QPR, taking his tally to three goals in his last four games.
And, just like the blockbuster strike which almost broke Birmingham’s net, the way Dike has adapted to life as a Red has left Williams impressed.
“It’s been difficult for him,” the former Huddersfield Town defender added.
“It’s a massive change but I think he’s adapted very well. Barnsley is a totally different world to America, but you can see how well he is doing.
“He’s been a massive help to the team and a big presence in the changing room.
“To say he’s 20, he’s a massive lad, he’s a unit. He runs the channels well and holds the ball up and he’s staring to pick up on the assists and goals.
“He’s doing very well for us.”
Dike’s 49th-minute thunderbolt lit up an otherwise dour affair, with both teams guilty of too often resorting to hopeful, direct tactics.
Relegation-threatened Birmingham made their intentions clear from the outset, setting up with five at the back, and Williams admitted that it was just a case of digging deep and grinding out a seventh successive victory – one which lifts the Reds into a play-off berth.
“It was a very tough game. They’ve come here for a point, but we’ve dug deep, ground it out and kept a clean-sheet,” he said.
“I think that the momentum is on our side at the minute and we’re doing well.
“It’s a great feeling in the changing room, everyone is doing well, we’re winning games, so we can’t complain.
“It’s crazy where we’ve come from last season. We’re doing amazing at the minute, but we’ll just take it game by game and keep going.”
Harlee Dean should have given visiting Birmingham the lead as early as the sixth minute, but directed a free header from Gary Gardner’s inviting right-wing free-kick into the turf and wide of the near post when it looked easier to score.
With Barnsley playing far too many hopeful long balls forwards, they struggled to create anything resembling a clear-cut chance at the other end.
Cauley Woodrow did find enough space on the right side of the Blues’ penalty area to drag a low effort across the face of goal, though that was about as good as it got for the hosts during the opening period.
Presumably unimpressed by the disjointed first-half display that his players had served up, Valerien Ismael opted to make a double-substitution at the interval, introducing Jordan Williams and Carlton Morris.
And, the change paid off almost immediately with Morris rolling a 49th-minute pass cross-field and setting Dike away down the right.
The American advanced into the penalty area and took aim with his right foot, unleashing a ferocious strike which beat Neil Etheridge at his near post on its way into the roof of the net.
There was little by way of goalmouth action thereafter, though City did come on strong during the closing stages, with Barnsley dropping deeper and deeper as the afternoon wore on.
But, despite them seeing plenty of the ball, Birmingham failed to seriously extend home custodian Brad Collins.
The Reds stopper was forced to tip over an 89th-minute header by Jeremie Bela, however the flag was already up for offside.
One last-gasp opportunity would materialise for the visitors to salvage a point, Bela’s cross from the left finding its way through to Ivan Sanchez at the back stick, though the Spaniard could only scuff an unconvincing shot well wide of the mark.
Barnsley: Collins; Sollbauer (Sibbick 71), Helik, Andersen; Brittain, Mowatt, Palmer (Halme 58), Styles (Williams 46); Frieser (Morris 46), Woodrow (Adeboyejo 87), Dike. Unused substitutes: Walton, Oduor, Kane, Chaplin.
Birmingham City: Etheridge; Valery, Roberts, Dean, Friend (Sanchez 69), Pedersen; Gardner, Harper (Cosgrove 84), Sunjic; Hogan, Jutkiewicz (Bela 70). Unused substitutes: Prieto, Colin, Clayton, Leko, Clarke-Salter, Halilovic.
Referee: G Scott (Oxfordshire).
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