FORMER England goalkeeper Scott Carson knew little about it but his early own goal and another headed strike soon after the break from vaunted central defender Alfie Mawson got promoted Barnsley off the mark in the Championship against expected promotion-chasers Derby County.
Barnsley’s tenacious display typified the performances which had brought promotion via the play-offs against all the odds while Derby looked anything but a side who had reached their play-offs last time.
“Heckingbottom’s Red Army,” was the chant from the Kop as they roared their side on to a confidence-boosting victory.
Reds coach Paul Heckingbottom had again gone 4-4-2 with Tom Bradshaw partnering Marley Watkins up front with Sam Winnall, last season’s top scorer, ruled out by a hamstring suffered in the early stages of the opening day 4-2 defeat at Ipswich Town.
Midfield prospect Sessi D’Almeida, who has joined on a two-year contract from Paris St Germain B, took his place on the bench despite taking a knock in the Under-21s match against Newcastle.
Derby, now under Nigel Pearson, included former Barnsley old boys in central defender Jason Shackell and midfield man Jacob Butterfield.
But there was only a place on the bench for Chris Martin, who scored both goals at Oakwell as the Rams won 2-1 on their last visit in 2013. Martin has been heavily linked with a move to Wolves as Derby continue their pursuit of Sheffield Wednesday’s Fernando Forestieri, having already had a £6m-plus bid rejected.
Instead, Rams chief Nigel Pearson played former England international Darren Bent as the lone striker with Tom Ince operating just behind him.
Captain Conor Hourihane got the Reds up and running after a quiet start.
Aidy White made a great run down the right, crossed deep and Ryan Kent retrieved before cutting inside and squaring for Hourihane to thunder a shot against the post and saw the ball rebound off the back of Scott Carson, who had been beaten by the drive as he dived across to his right, for an own goal.
Derby suffered another blow to the 11th-minute opener when midfield play-maker Jeff Hendrick was unable to shake off an early thigh problem and had to be replaced by Will Hughes.
Barnsley admirably kept their composure at the back but Watkins was needlessly booked for dissent.
Rams pressure built but a timely sliding intervention by Alfie Mawson denied Bent an opportunity before the break and Ince fired over in stoppage time.
Martin replaced Bent for the second half as the Reds remained unchanged.
Butterefield took an early booking for a trip on Bradshaw as the striker broke down the right and from Hourihane’s free-kick, Mawson rose and headed down and home to make it 2-0 in the 48th-minute.
It could have been 3-0 but Carson did well to tip over a drive from Hourihane.
Butterfield, barracked by the Reds fans, had his afternoon ended when he was replaced by Johnny Russell, who immediately drew a foul which earned Hourihane a 56th-minute booking.
Ince’s free-kick cannoned off the wall for a corner from which Kent broke only to be brought down by Craig Bryson, who was also yellow-carded.
Derby had trouble containing livewire Liverpool loanee Kent and when he made a diagonal run inside from the right in the 65th only the post prevented him from making it 3-0 as his powerful shot beat Carson.
Ince was always a threat and when he chested down a crossfield ball and let fly from inside the area Adam Davies had to be at his best to beat the shot away for a corner.
Barnsley’s first change saw Bradshaw replaced by fellow striker Stefan Payne in the 73rd minute.
Far from hitting back, Derby were forced to concede a series of free-kicks and corners as the Reds attacked a delirious Kop, though Carson was in fine form.
Hammill’s challenge on Hughes brought him a booking as did Ince’s foul on Hourihane and Davies ensured there were to be no late scares when he pushed aside a downward header from Craig Forsyth.
The Barnsley goalkeeper also went full length to keep out a curling shot from the dangerous Russell before the game went into four minutes of stoppage time, during which D’Almeida made his debut in place of Watkins.
Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom said: “Everyone can see the energy and the hard work that the players put in.
“We started both halves really well, got the goals at key times and defended stoutly throughout.
“It was a deserved win and we’ll take a lot of belief and confidence from it.
“We know we might play like that in some games and get beaten but hopefully with the quality we’ve got we can cause teams problems.
“I thought we dealt with them well, they’ve got really good players and we coped with them pretty well.
“I thought in both boxes we were much better than last week. We took our chances and were ruthless with how we defended our own box.
“Last season we had a really good winning mentality. That’s what we needed to show in this game and we did. It was a good example of what it takes to win a game of football in this division.
“I hope the fans enjoyed it and appreciated just how much effort the boys put in.”