DO not let it be said that everyone is looking forward to the forthcoming arrival of Spring, the season of rebirth and renaissance.
Winter, traditionally a time for hibernation and hard, penetrating frosts, has proved anything but for Barnsley, who must be wishing their own warm front could last until May.
You have to go back to December 8 for the Reds’ sole league loss so far in the coldest season of the year, ironically to Saturday’s opponents Wycombe.
Just one point clear of seventh place after that 1-0 reverse in Buckinghamshire, Barnsley now find themselves 13 points clear of the team currently just outside of the play-offs in Peterborough United, with a game in hand too.
A 12-match unbeaten league sequence since, incorporating six successive home wins at Fortress Oakwell, has provided substantial winter fuel, with Barnsley’s strong pitch for automatic promotion looking a thoroughly convincing one on recent evidence.
A fair way to go yet maybe, but Daniel Stendel’s second-placedside seem to tick most boxes associated with top-two finishers.
They possess predatory nous at the top end of the pitch – with Cauley Woodrow minimising the absence of 18-goal top-scorer Kieffer Moore with a two-goal haul to continue his own head-turning feats in front of goal – solidity at the back and leadership across the pitch, with several squad players periodically stepping out of the shadows too.
Woodrow may have taken the plaudits on Saturday, but sound performances from the likes of Dani Pinillos and Mike Bahre will not have been lost upon more observant Reds followers.
It was Bahre who helped set Barnsley on their way by earning their early penalty, dispatched by Woodrow, and the outcome of this game was not really open to question after that.
The end result was another Oakwell victory and an extension of the Reds’ fine unbeaten home league record to 20 matches, the club’s best sequence on home soil since 1968.
The end result was another Oakwell victory and an extension of the Reds’ fine unbeaten home league record to twenty matches, the club’s best sequence on home soil since 1968.Leon Wobschall
Mary Hopkin’s famous ballad Those Were the Days was among the number one records of that year. The present days are warm and reassuring in Barnsley too.
Bahre, making his first league start of 2019, said: “In every home game we try to keep our unbeaten run and that gives us a bit extra motivation in every game and everyone knows it.
“We will continue to try to be unbeaten. Especially in the home games, I think it is very difficult to beat us.
“Wycombe were also the last team to beat us in the league and now we have showed that it was just a bad game for us.”
On taking centre stage after going down under pressure from Luke Bolton, which prompted referee Matthew Donohue to point to the spot instantly – much to the anger of the penalised Wycombe player – Bahre added: “I just felt a touch and then I was falling. I do not really know, but I think it was a penalty.
“The first match at Wycombe was difficult. We knew this could be the same, so it was even more important to get the early goal.”
A side who had drawn at Sunderland and Portsmouth and won at Bradford City, the big League One stages clearly carry an allure for Wycombe and early evidence suggested they would give Barnsley a run for their money.
But that 13th-minute penalty served as a settler and while Bolton looked aghast when a spotkick was afforded, the challenge on Bahre looked untidy.
Woodrow side-stepped the controversy to send Ryan Allsop the wrong way and continue his purple patch in front of goal.
Endeavouring to play some crisp one-touch football on a bobbly surface, not everything that Barnsley attempted came off, but commendably they kept probing and stayed patient, with Alex Mowatt and Cameron McGeehan pulling the strings.
Allsop had to be alert to turn away an excellent strike from distance from Pinillos acrobatically before Adam Davies displayed his powers of concentration to make an important pre-interval save to deny Nick Freeman.
Mowatt’s failure to convert after being set clear by Woodrow just before the break may have looked charitable, but a clinical strike from the latter on 64 minutes was unerring.
Woodrow’s instinctive finish into the roof of the net was the final act to a splendid team goal, with substitute Ryan Hedges’s astute slide-rule pass finding Jacob Brown on the left and his centre was similarly smart.
It was the cue for Barnsley to don their party frocks for a spell with McGeehan and Brown going close before Woodrow – with his designs set on taking home the match-ball – saw his sharp header tipped over by Allsop.
A ten-minute spell of stoppage-time ensued following lengthy attention to Bolton early in the second half and Wycombe’s misery was compounded when captain Adam El-Abd was dismissed for seemingly pulling at the hair of McGeehan following a kerfuffle.
There was still time for the Chairboys to fire a consolation from the spot courtesy of Joe Jacobson after Ethan Pinnock was penalised for fouling substitute Scott Kashhet – although replays indicated the foul started just outside the box. But Barnsley were not to be moved. Again.
Barnsley: Davies; Cavare, Pinnock, Lindsay, Pinillos; Mowatt (Dougall 87), McGeehan, Bahre (Adeboyejo 86); Thiam (Hedges 63), Woodrow, Brown. Unused substitutes: Walton, Green, Jackson, Styles.
Wycombe: Allsop; McCarthy, Jombati, El-Abd, Jacobson; Bolton (Tyson 61), Gape, Thompson, Freeman (Akinfenwa 67); Cowan-Hall (Kashket 67), Samuel. Unused substitutes: Yates, Stewart, Bean, Bloomfield.