IT was perhaps the only time during the day that anything resembling hesitancy and sluggishness was shown by anyone of a Barnsley persuasion.
The moment arrived during the final 15 minutes of a bewitching first half from those in red. ‘Daniel, give us a wave,’ the jubilant Pontefract Road end implored after watching the hosts power into a 2-0 lead and Barnsley’s new head coach was noticeably tardy off the mark.
Eventually, Daniel Stendel, whose family had flown over from Germany for the occasion, took the hint and waved to his adoring fans.
But while his command of English is still a little rusty, his adrenaline-fuelled side are already emphatically on message – tanked up with gusto and gegenpressing.
As opening-day statements go this was right up there as the German’s reign began with majesty, this handsome victory made all the sweeter by the fact that Barnsley have been on the receiving end of several brutal opening-day undressings in years gone by.
After Wigan, QPR and Coventry here was redemption as the Reds ended a run of five straight first-day defeats with a swagger.
It was a near-perfect afternoon. First home goals after a fair wait from Mamadou Thiam and a maiden strike for the club from Victor Adeboyejo were clear and obvious ticks in the box and there was plenty to satisfy elsewhere.
A renaissance performance from the excellent Alex Mowatt and a classy bow from the hosts’ only newcomer on show in Kenny Dougall were among other contributions that left fans salivating.
Yet the biggest triumph on a day to be savoured was Barnsley’s collective effervescence and desire. It was a high-velocity showing full of purpose and intensity.
One game in, of course, but it was hard not to draw the conclusion that this augured seriously well for the battles that lie ahead. Something surely not lost either upon co-chairmen Chien Lee and Paul Conway, who were both entitled to watch on with a deep sense of pleasure in the West Stand.
The Reds started energetically and ended with bundles of it against an Oxford side sprawled out on the canvass by the end after two late goals turned their afternoon into one assuming nightmarish proportions.
This is a team considered by several in the know to be among the League One ‘dark horses’ in 2018-19.
Perhaps the only thing putting a downer on proceedings for the hosts was the unpalatable thought that with the transfer window deadline fast approaching late raids from the Championship for several key players may yet arrive.
Despite not getting on the scoresheet the likes of Kieffer Moore and Tom Bradshaw – both linked with second-tier moves this summer – showed more than enough to suggest they will be League One forces this season. As did another who found the net in Brad Potts.
A collective sigh of relief will be heard in the vicinity of Oakwell should Barnsley get through to 5pm on Thursday with no major departures.
Assistant manager Andreas Winkler observed: “We would like to keep everybody. We told the whole squad at the first training session that we have lots of information about every player. We knew very quickly that we have a good squad. So if there are no transfers in the next few days, no problem.
“It was a brilliant first match and a very good start to the season for the whole squad and all the substitutes, who were very good.
“After the first half maybe we could have laid back and thought, ‘okay, we have won already’. But we didn’t and that impressed me the most as we kept on playing and pressing high.”
Two rasping identikit low drives from Thiam kick-started the opening-day party and Oxford could not say it had not been coming as those in red put them on the back foot from the off.
The question was whether the Reds could sustain their efforts on the restart and, after a brief lull in proceedings, the hosts finished the game with their foot firmly on the accelerator.
A wonder strike from the halfway line from Dougall almost added a third before Potts blasted high past former Reds target Simon Eastwood to end Oxford’s mini-resistance.
There was still time for Adeboyejo to tap in his first professional goal following a cross from fellow substitute Cameron McGeehan as the rampant Reds threatened more before the end. Job done.
On his milestone strike, Odeboyejo said: “I would take 20 of those goals. I am really happy.
“When I was 16 I made my debut for Orient in League One and a chance like that came and I thought I had scored and the referee did not give it.
“So it was nice to replay that and get the goal.”
Barnsley: Davies; Cavare, Pinnock, Lindsay, Pinillos; Potts, Dougall, Mowatt (McGeehan 78), Thiam (Moncur 70); Moore (Adeboyejo 82), Bradshaw. Unused substitutes: Walton, Jackson, Isgrove, Bird.
Oxford United: Eastwood; McMahon, Dickie, Nelson, Garbutt; Carruthers (Smith 21), Brannagan, Ruffels, Henry (Hall 63); Mackie (Whyte 82), Obika. Unused substitutes: Stevens, Norman, Mousinho, Raglan.
Referee: R Joyce (Cleveland).