Barnsley 0 Swansea City 2: Barnsley ruthlessly cut open

AS MUCH as Barnsley have improved under Valerien Ismael since his arrival in October, ruthless Swansea City gave them a reminder of how much work is still to be done if they are to continue rising up the Championship.

Barnsley's Victor Adeboyejo fires in at goal. (PIC: TONY JOHNSON)
Barnsley's Victor Adeboyejo fires in at goal. (PIC: TONY JOHNSON)

The promotion-chasing visitors were far from their best but still managed to inflict a 2-0 defeat on the Reds for the second time in just four weeks, mirroring their success at Liberty Stadium before Christmas.

Indeed, Barnsley had by far the better chances in the first half only to see Wales international Ben Cabango loop in a glancing header from Connor Roberts’ long throw in injury-time.

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It was Swansea’s only chance of the half and it visibly left the hosts deflated.

Swansea captaini Matt Grimes and Barnsley captain Alex Mowatt battle it out. (PIC: TONY JOHNSON)

Given Steve Cooper’s team have the meanest defence in the Championship - they have conceded just 13 goals in 25 games - perhaps the hosts knew they would be up against to retrieve the situation it even with another 45 minutes to go.

With that in mind, they could not gift their opponents anything else but they did just that at the start of the second period.

Roberts had already flashed a splendid left-footed volley just wide from 25m out when a glaring mix-up between Mads Anderson and Michal Helik saw Jamal Lowe handed a far easier chance.

The in-form striker found himself running in free on goal and he did not disappoint, rifling a low right-footed shot past Jack Walton in the 55th minute for his seventh goal in as many games.

It was unfortunate for Anderson and Helik who, along with Michael Sollabauer at the back, had largely kept the Welsh club’s forwards in check.

It gave Swansea the breathing space they needed, however, and it was no surprise that Barnsley quickly introduced debutant Carlton Morris, the former Rotherham United striker bought from Norwich City for an undisclosed fee last week.

He could not find a breakthrough, though. Instead, Swansea’s Andrew Ayew felt he should have had a penalty when Romal Palmer seemed to catch him as he turned just inside the box in the 70th minute.

However, it was Swansea who were relieved soon after when Freddie Woodman produced a stunning save to deny an equally spectacular Callum Brittain drive from 30m out.

Still, at the other end, Walton was called upon to tip away a curling free-kick from the impressive Roberts and Barnsley were left pointless.

There had been few chances in the first half but, until Cabango’s goal, they had all gone to Barnsley.

Victor Adeboyejo had the first sight of goal when a slip in the Swansea defence allowed the Nigerian forward to send in a long-range effort that dipped just over the crossbar.

From Barnsley’s first corner, Conor Chaplin also fired in a well-struck effort but that was blocked by a mass of defenders in the box.

As the half wore on, with both sides often struggling to get the ball down and play any sort of football, Adeboyejo looked increasingly like the player who could make some sort of positive impact.

He weaved his way inside the penalty box with some intricate inter-play but could not find space to get his shot away.

The 23-year-old did find acres of space soon after but Callum Styles aimed a harmless shot at Swansea keepr Freddie Woodman rather than finding his unmarked team-mate.

Barnsley had to be ruthless. They weren’t. But Swansea - who did not use any substitutes and move to within a point of leaders Norwich City - showed them how to do it.

Barnsley: Walton; Styles, Anderson, Brittain, Kane (Palmer 62), Woodrow, Chaplin (Morris 62), Sollbauer (Sibbick 83), Mowatt, Adeboyejo (Thomas 83), Helik. Unused: Collins, Schmidt, Oduor, Frieser, Moon.

Swansea City: Woodman: Guehi, Fulton, Smith, Grimes, Lowe, Ayew, Roberts, Bidwell, Naughton, Cabango. Unused substitutes: Hamer, Manning, Routledge, Cullen, Dhanda, Latibeaudiere, Byers, Cooper, Garrick.

Referee: Jeremy Simpson