Barnsley 0 Derby 0: Reds' unbeaten run extended but no eighth win

IT had to end some time.

Action from Barnsley's draw with Derby with Alex Mowatt at centre stage.

In footballing circles - and certainly in Championship ones - Barnsley were threatening to trend as rapidly on Twitter as publicity-savvy TV host Piers Morgan has been doing in the news section if their stunning sequence of seven successive league victories continued.

That their club record form at second-tier level did not extend into an eighth straight win will have been viewed with an initial pang of regret by Reds followers.

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It will have quickly been replaced by a colossal amount of perspective. Barnsley have not just travelled on a journey in recent times, but they have circumnavigated the globe in express fashion.

Given Barnsley's recent form, this result may have been a surprise against a Derby side who have been pummeled on occasions on the road this term. But Championship connoisseurs know that these things happen.

Equally, don’t expect the Reds’ story under Valerien Ismael to go away soon. On a night made hazardous by the conditions, you dig in and make sure you do not lose.

Barnsley very nearly did that and went close to going behind in a league game for the first time since January 19 when Graeme Shinnie's low shot smacked against the inside of the post ten minutes from time, with Sheffield-born Lee Gregory spurning an excellent chance in front of goal when his touch deserved him seven minutes earlier.

The Reds - for whom weekend hero Daryl Dike again led the fight - went closest early in the second half when Conor Chaplin shot straight at Kelle Roos from close range - before banging his hand on the ground in frustration. In a game of few chances, this was also big.

In ghastly conditions which saw the stiff wind require no second invitation to wreak havoc and prelude passing football even if you tried, pragmatic Barnsley stuck to what they knew and Derby played the percentages before pushing for a late sting.

As a technical exercise, the Rams’ decision to go ‘like-for-like’ and replicate the hosts’ 3-4-3 formation, dropping into five at the back when out of possession and also play a high line and squeeze the game worked well enough.

Anything resembling free-flowing football was at a premium and this was a night for scrapping and winning ‘duels’ as Ismael likes to call it and securing second balls.

For an Evertonian in Wayne Rooney, it was not exactly ‘School of Science’ stuff, but needs must at the business end when results and not performances are king. His players at least showed stomach for the fight, unlike at Mick McCarthy’s Cardiff six days earlier.

From goal kicks, the middle ground was congested and it was like a mini war zone in the sporting sense and it was a case of who blinks first.

A first-time cross-shot from Callum Brittain fizzed off target for the Reds, while Cauley Woodrow connected cleanly with a volley, but the aim was wayward. There was not a great deal else.

Daryl Dike, up against a game opponent in Teden Mengi, had a couple of half-chances in the air, but it was nothing whatsoever to trouble Kelle Roos, while Brad Collins was not extended at the other end, aside from racing out on a few occasions to clear his lines.

With options on the bench and his predilection to rotate, the smart money was on Ismael making quick-fire changes early in the second half.

He did not disappoint in that regard, although one player to make way in Chaplin should have come off with a goal to his name.

To be fair, the changes did not ruffle Derby, who saw a half-shout for a penalty correctly turned down after Kamil Jozwiak went down too easily under pressure from Toby Sibbick.

It took 55 minutes for the Rams to produce their first effort on goal, a tame shot from Shinnie, with the chance they craved arriving when Colin Kazim Richards found Gregory in space, only for Collins to make a key block.

Rooney and co were ready to celebrate when Shinnie's late shot flew goalbound, but Barnsley got their reprieve. A defeat would have been cruel and a draw was right.

Barnsley: Collins; Sibbick, Helik, Andersen; Brittain, Palmer (Kane 82), Mowatt, Styles (J Williams 57); Chaplin (Morris 57), Woodrow (Adeboyejo 57), Dike. Substitutes unused: Walton, Oduor, Sollbauer, Moon.

Derby County: Roos; Edmondson, Mengi, Clarke, Wisdom, Knight, Shinnie, Forsyth; Kazim-Richards, Gregory, (Waghorn 85) Jozwiak (Sibley 85). Substitutes unused: Idem, Bird, Roberts, Buchanan, Wilson, McDonald, Watson.

Referee: K Stroud (Hants).