Barnsley 0 Cheltenham Town 0: Reds not at the races as promotion hopefuls punished for wastefulness

Barnsley failed to make their dominance pay as they were held to a 0-0 draw by League One strugglers Cheltenham Town.

Neill Collins’ men were in control from the offset but squandered a host of opportunities to take the lead. Cheltenham came away with a clean sheet but it was not a steely defensive performance that denied the Reds victory, instead it was Barnsley’s own lack of composure in the final third.

The game got off to a hectic start and although Barnsley enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and chances, Cheltenham were the first to threaten. George Lloyd knocked the ball down for an on-rushing Aidan Keena and the forward caught the ball well but fired wide.

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Control was then assumed by Barnsley, who appeared to have taken the lead when Jon Russell steered home from a free-kick. However, the offside flag went up and celebrations were abruptly halted.

Barnsley endured a frustrating day at the office. Image: Ben Roberts Photo/Getty ImagesBarnsley endured a frustrating day at the office. Image: Ben Roberts Photo/Getty Images
Barnsley endured a frustrating day at the office. Image: Ben Roberts Photo/Getty Images

Opportunities continued to come thick and fast for the Reds, who were proving too surgical and slick for the Robins. Nicky Cadden twisted and turned himself into space in the box but found the side-netting, before John McAtee flicked wide from an Adam Phillips cross.

Cheltenham found deliveries into the box difficult to handle and rarely did a cross not find a Barnsley head or foot. Jamie McCart met a corner delivery and directed his cushioned volley on target but saw Luke Southwood hold.

Barnsley did not take their foot of the gas as the first half progressed, continuing to probe in search of an opener. McAtee headed narrowly over from a deflected cross and Phillips saw a looped header graze the woodwork.

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A counter-attack presented another opportunity for the hosts to break the deadlock but Sam Cosgrove pulled his effort wide after being fed by Cadden.

Liam Roberts was not a particularly busy man between the Barnsley sticks but showed razor-sharp reactions to palm away a thunderous drive from Keena. Hope among Cheltenham fans of the chance sparking a first-half resurgence soon dissipated, as Barnsley made a swift return to the front foot.

Connell was pulling a lot of the Barnsley strings but had a chance himself with the interval approaching, lifting a shot narrowly over the crossbar from just inside the box.

Roberts was, however, called back into action on the stroke of half-time to tip a bullet header from Lewis Freestone over the crossbar.

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Despite the relentless nature of Barnsley’s attacking intent, they went into the break level with a Cheltenham side left looking punch-drunk by the onslaught.

Barnsley continued to be wasteful in front of goal after the restart and there were groans across Oakwell when Sam Cosgrove overhit a lay-off to McAtee, ending a promising move.

Cadden, meanwhile, continued to pepper the Cheltenham box with crosses and one particularly teasing one was just reached by Southwood ahead of McAtee. He also tested Southwood with a shot, seeing a powerful low drive collected by the stopper at the near post.

Corey O’Keeffe was the next to send a teasing ball in the direction of Barnsley’s attacking contingent, although the ball was nicked off the toe of McAtee before he could try his luck.

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Cosgrove had worked tirelessly but been wasteful in the final third, therefore it was hardly a surprise to see the club’s top scorer Devante Cole introduced in his place before the hour mark.

As the home crowd grew restless, Barnsley’s frustrations became clear as their attacking outlets tried forcing opportunities with pot-shots.

Cole stooped to meet a Phillips delivery late on but even Barnsley’s primary source of goals could not break the deadlock and sent his header wide. Barnsley continued to knock on the door but a finishing touch eluded the Reds and they had to settle for a point.