Michael Duff rues missed chances as new Barnsley FC era begins with defeat to Plymouth Argyle

There was no dream start to the Michael Duff era at Barnsley.

The former Cheltenham manager assumed the reins at Oakwell in the summer in the wake of their meek relegation from the Championship and there was no victorious opener as Barnsley fell to a Plymouth side that missed the League One play-offs last year despite amassing 80 points.

On-loan Aston Villa attacking midfielder Finn Azaz got Plymouth off to a winning start in front of 14,624 at Home Park.

The game’s decisive moment came just before half-time, following a brilliant break down the left by playmaker Danny Mayor, who fed Bali Mumba, who in turn found fellow debutant Azaz and he sidefooted home first-time into the top corner.

Barnsley's manager Michael Duff (Picture courtesy of Barnsley FC)

Argyle looked to have gone ahead in the ninth minute but skipper Joe Edwards’ rising shot cannoned off the face of the crossbar. Barnsley also hit the bar, in the 34th minute when Nicky Cadden connected with Jack Aitchison’s cross. Josh Benson’s follow-up was cleared off the line by Macaulay Gillesphey.

Striker James Norwood was introduced as one of Barnsley’s second-half substitutes and he flashed a 65th-minute header just wide from Luca Connell’s pacy free-kick. The hosts had a late let-off when defender Gillesphey cleared the ball off the line following an inswinging corner.

Duff said: “We need to add goals but I don’t think we looked toothless. Plymouth are a good team and you very rarely go away and create as many good chances as that. You just have to score one of them.”

Plymouth: Cooper, Wilson, Scarr, Gillesphey, Edwards, Butcher, Randell, Mumba, Azaz (Whittaker 78), Mayor (Jephcott 90), Hardie (Ennis 78). Unused substitutes: Lonwijk, Galloway, Burton, Endacott.

Barnsley: Collins, Andersen, Cundy (McCarthy 46), Kitching, Williams, Benson (Thomas 61), Connell (Wolfe 78), Styles, Cadden, Cole (Norwood 61), Aitchison (Marsh 71). Unused substitutes: Walton, Moon.

Referee: C Breakspear (Surrey).