Barnsley FC 1 Birmingham City 1: Callum Styles scores in spectacular fashion in Reds' draw

JOY: Callum Styles celebrates after his fine opener for Barnsley against Birmingham City. PICTURE: PA WIRE.JOY: Callum Styles celebrates after his fine opener for Barnsley against Birmingham City. PICTURE: PA WIRE.
JOY: Callum Styles celebrates after his fine opener for Barnsley against Birmingham City. PICTURE: PA WIRE.
BARNSLEY produced another spectacular strike against Birmingham City at Oakwell for the second season running - but this time the visitors had plenty more in their locker by way of a response.

It was back in March where the Reds were metaphorically top of the world after a brilliant strike just after the interval in front of the Pontefract Road end from loanee Daryl Dike earned the hosts a seventh successive league win and provided further momentum to their exhilarating play-off charge against a Blues side, who were limited and bang in relegation trouble.

Another vintage strike from Callum Styles, after just six minutes, provided another talking point for Barnsley this time around, but the main discourse afterwards probably focused on the fact that the point was a good one at the final whistle, with the Reds being second-best to the visitors, who dominated the second half.

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A bad mistake from Toby Sibbick enabled an old stager who never passes up gifts in Lukas Jutkiewicz in the second half and Blues were dominant for much of the second period with the Reds - with Michal Helik in resounding form - having to dig in.

Whereas last season’s Oakwell encounter was dire on the entertainment stakes - safe for Dike’s ‘worldie’ - there was thankfully more for both sets of supporters in the first half especially - certainly from a Reds' perspective - and the connoisseur on a gorgeous late summer’s afternoon in South Yorkshire.

For Barnsley, a marvellous opener from Styles - who added to his growing medley of magic goals for the Reds - provided the chief on-pitch warmth.

It was the finishing touch to a wonderful move.

Sibbick started it by playing the ball into Cauley Woodrow,, who had dropped in midfield. His instinctive lay-off found Romal Palmer, whose first-time pass with the outside of his foot to send Dominic Frieser away on the right was worth the admission money alone.

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The Austrian’s cross was blocked, but Clark Oduor - who had his moments in the first half - found the advancing Styles, well placed in a central position and his left-footed curling strike arrowed into the top corner and was a real beauty.

Sibbick’s contribution for the Blues’ leveller was rather more lamentable.

Ivan Sunjic’s punt forward needed to be attacked, but wasn’t, with a seasoned campaigner in Jutkiewicz cashing in on the indecision from the home defender to ram the ball low past Brad Collins from close in. A gift of a concession from a Reds perspective.

Without creating many clear-cut chances, the hosts had looked comfortable enough and on-message in their defensive duties and their energy and work-rate was not in question.

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Five-nil victors at Luton seven days ago, Blues did not have it their own way and had a fair bit more to think about, but neither did they panic, with Ryan Woods and Tahith Chong gradually getting into the game and the long throws of Marc Roberts - given a nice reception on his return to his former club - being another weapon.

In terms of chances aside from the goals, Woodrow’s first-time volley drifted wide early on, while clever play almost saw Oduor set up Styles in front of goal, while at the other end, Jutkiewicz had posted a warning ahead of his leveller when he headed over from Roberts’ booming throw.

Both sides displayed urgency in the early salvos of the second half, with Woodrow shooting at Sarkic before Maxime Colin nipped ahead of Brad Collins following Jeremie Bela’s centre, but his header - under pressure from the Reds keeper - was wayward.

It was a decent game in the melting pot and it was Blues who went the closest.

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First, a break upfield saw their dangermen combined with Woods cleverly finding Talith Choing, who drove inside before seeing his well-struck shot fly wide before one-time Reds trialist Scott Hogan was left to rue a good chance by his standards, latching onto Bela’s pinpoint centre, but heading wide at the near post.

Blues were looking the more likely and retained more control, with Markus Schopp resisting the urge to make changes, although his bench did not possess a surfeit of game-changers in fairness.

Collins was then called into action at a key juncture, sparing Sibbick’s blushes again after Chong beat him to the ball and played in Hogan, but the Reds keeper made an excellent one-on-one save.

The alarm bells were ringing for Barnsley as Blues sensed a winner in front of their 2,000 away following.

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It nearly arrived when Collins superbly denied substitute Chuks Aneke from close in before the Blues player saw his rebound hit the post and his follow-up fly over as the Barnsley goal started to lead a charmed life.

At the other, referee Matthew Donohue was unmoved when substitute Victor Adeboyejo went down under pressure from Kristian Pedersen.

Barnsley: Collins; Sibbick (Moon 84), Helik, Kitching; Brittain, Palmer, Benson, Styles; Frieser (Adeboyejo 80), Woodrow, Oduor. Substitutes unused: Walton, B Williams, Halme, Miller, Thompson.

Birmingham City: Sarkic; Roberts, Dean, Pedersen; Colin, Woods, Sunjic, Bela; Chong, Hogan (Aneke 76), Jutkiewicz (Leko 89). Substitutes unused: Trueman, Friend, Gardner, Sanchez, McGree.

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