Barnsley FC 7 Port Vale 0: Devante Cole the hat-trick hero as Neill Collins era begins with emphatic win at Oakwell

Barnsley kicked their new season off in style with an emphatic 7-0 win over Port Vale.

Neill Collins enjoyed the perfect start to life in the Oakwell dugout, as a hat-trick from Devante Cole helped his side comfortably clinch three points. Liam Kitching, Jon Russell and Andy Dallas also weighed in with goals, and the Reds benefited from an own goal from Port Vale’s Dan Jones.

There were early signs of ring rust from the Reds, who found themselves pinned back and dealing with a barrage of crosses in the early stages. Although the visitors did not create any clear-cut opportunities, there was tension among home supporters when Valiants frontman Ellis Harrison went down in the box while awaiting a cross. Fortunately for the Reds, the referee ignored penalty appeals.

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Just as frustration appeared to be creeping in, the hosts took the lead against the run of play. Corey O’Keeffe intercepted a pass on the halfway line before surging down the right flank and sending an inch-perfect pass into the feet of Cole.

Devante Cole scored an opening day hat-trick. Image: George Wood/Getty ImagesDevante Cole scored an opening day hat-trick. Image: George Wood/Getty Images
Devante Cole scored an opening day hat-trick. Image: George Wood/Getty Images

The pass came to Cole at pace but the forward showed razor-sharp instincts to steer beyond a helpless Connor Ripley.

Hopes of the goal immediately breathing life into Barnsley soon subsided, as Port Vale returned to the front foot. Liam Roberts was forced to make a fantastic save to deny Harrison, who was effective in finding pockets of space throughout the first-half.

However, the hosts did manage to double their lead with half-time approaching when Port Vale’s Jones turned Nicky Cadden’s drive across goal into his own net.

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The opener did not appear to awaken Barnsley but the second goal did and they probed throughout the lengthy period of added time. Callum Styles and Cadden both tried their luck as the half-time whistle approached, but Collins’ men had to settle for a two-goal cushion heading into the break.

Barnsley then made a dream start to the second-half, flying out of the traps and putting Port Vale under immediate pressure. Cotter delivered a teasing cross from the right that was met by Cole, who rifled a shot into the roof of the net to extend the lead.

Cole clinched his hat-trick six minutes later, rounding off a swift counter-attack with an effort that struck Ripley but still managed to trickle in.

As Barnsley grew in confidence, Port Vale’s seemed to fade at an alarming rate and it was not long before the Reds had a fifth. Herbie Kane chipped the ball into the path of Kitching, who hammered past Ripley.

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The dominance continued and Russell got in on the act, powering a header into the bottom corner after meeting Cadden’s floated free-kick delivery.

A raft of changes did not deter Barnsley, who were relentless in their desire to attack for much of the second-half. Port Vale did enjoy the occasional venture forward and the best of their opportunities fell to Josh Thomas, who was denied at close-range by Roberts.

Barnsley rounded off the afternoon with a late seventh, provided by Dallas on his Reds debut after he latched on to a cross from Cotter.