Case of deja vu as Cauley Woodrow again proves stoppage-time saviour for Barnsley

Point earned: Cauley Woodrow scores from the spot to earn Barnsley a draw. Pictures: Simon HulmePoint earned: Cauley Woodrow scores from the spot to earn Barnsley a draw. Pictures: Simon Hulme
Point earned: Cauley Woodrow scores from the spot to earn Barnsley a draw. Pictures: Simon Hulme
IN this world, nothing is certain except death, taxes and Barnsley and Bristol City drawing 2-2 at Oakwell.

Usually with a stoppage-time equaliser thrown into the mix.

One of the more incredulous EFL statistics of recent times has seen these two sides now share four goals on their last five meetings in Barnsley – with a last-gasp leveller arriving in the last four.

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Just like last autumn – when Adam Murray was also in interim charge – Cauley Woodrow was the stoppage-time saviour with the last kick of the match.

Goal: Michal Helik is congratualted after scoring the opening goal for Barnsley.Goal: Michal Helik is congratualted after scoring the opening goal for Barnsley.
Goal: Michal Helik is congratualted after scoring the opening goal for Barnsley.

Before him, it was ex-Reds midfielder Josh Brownhill – in the colours of City – and Adam Hammill who struck at the death. It really should be a quiz question.

It has been an eventful week for Woodrow. It started with concerns that he would end it in the blue of Cardiff City.

Instead, with the ink still drying on his newly-signed contract extension, it finished with the sight of him rattling home the most decisive of penalties. In this of all weeks, it had to be him.

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His spot-kick in the previous game at Middlesbrough was consolation. This had far more weight after he distanced himself from the chatter of away players trying to put him off before firing home in the 12th minute of stoppage time following a lengthy delay after Michael Sollbauer was decked by Callum O’Dowda.

Everyone connected with Barnsley collectively breathed again after a rare moment of clemency in a testing start to 2020-21. You take what you can.

Woodrow said: “I have never waited that long for a penalty. That is why I walked away from the hustle and bustle and got myself over by the touchline and took some water on board to calm myself down and got my head right for when I did have to take it.

“For us to come out with a point is very positive for us and we should be really happy.

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“It is nice for me after signing a new contract to repay the club with a goal, I am over the moon.”

In Barnsley’s position, talking up this draw is understandable. But it would be foolish to gloss over a day which showed what they failed to resolve in the transfer window – not what they did.

Barnsley lack a forward with physical attributes to compete with big centre-backs and make life harder for them. They also palpably struggle with their decision-making in the final third.

It was telling that their leveller arrived when Sollbauer – who sensed the hosts needed something extra in the box and surged forward when he saw fit – was in a dangerous position. Mads Andersen was also thrown up front late on. It was an unsubtle Plan B.

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After a presentable first half, the hosts lost their way. Bristol City, as head coach Dean Holden rightly said, started to play the game on their terms.

Holden’s view that the hosts’ spot-kick was not clear enough to give was more open to censure.

It was a penalty all day long after O’Dowda’s poor challenge on Sollbauer when the ball sailed towards the edge of the area.

Holden’s gripe should have been the fact that City, seeking a record-equalling fifth straight league win at the start of a season for the first time since 1927-28 – did not put the game to bed.

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Chances came for the excellent Jack Hunt and Zac Vyner, but were spurned and Barnsley found a get-out-of-jail card after a second-half when they possessed the sting of a butterfly.

How they could have done with someone like Chris Martin, who came up with his fourth assist of the season and was a nuisance.

Martin – who went close with a first-half header – coolly teed up Hunt for the leveller early in the second period, with the ex-Reds loanee lashing the ball home with the aid of a deflection off Andersen after Barnsley had been opened up and Jack Walton had denied Nakhi Wells twice.

Soon after, Hunt was again involved after piercing play. His shot was parried by Walton and Tyreeq Makinson’s slide-rule follow-up took a significant riccochet off Jordan Williams as Barnsley were entitled to wonder why the world was against them.

After that, there was perspiration, but no inspiration.

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When asked if Barnsley needed a big striker, Woodrow answered diplomatically. But you wondered what he was really thinking.

Barnsley made next to no impact on Max O’Leary’s goal on the resumption prior to Woodrow’s strike. There was willing and energy, but little punch or quality.

In the first half, the hosts were more convincing, helped by City creating problems for themselves in continually trying to play out from the back, with Barnsley seizing on some sloppiness.

Murray’s assertion that the Reds were ‘outstanding’ was generous. But against one of the division’s form teams, it was positive – buoyed by an early opener.

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A flighted corner from the recalled Romal Palmer was begging to be attacked and Michal Helik planted a header past O’Leary after Vyner lost him at the far post just two minutes in.

The game ended with another centre-half in Sollbauer having an impact – and a headache.

Thankfully, after a fair bit of attention on the pitch, he was up and about in the changing room.

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