The Verdict – Barnsley prove their quality despite FA Cup exit at Burnley

Spot on: Burnley's Chris Wood scores from the penalty spot past Barnsley's Adam Davies.'  Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Spot on: Burnley's Chris Wood scores from the penalty spot past Barnsley's Adam Davies.' Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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THE recent Cup exploits of these two old Roses foes hardly pointed to this latest meeting being a likely contender for tie of the round.

Barnsley had crashed out at the first hurdle of the FA Cup in four of the previous five seasons, while almost a decade had passed since the South Yorkshire club last claimed a top-flight scalp.

Burnley, if anything, had fared even worse in knockout football. Not only were Sean Dyche’s men recently humbled at home by Lincoln City, then of the National League, but further embarrassment had come the Lancashire club’s way since winning promotion in 2016 via League Cup defeats to lowly Accrington Stanley and Burton Albion.

To turn such inauspicious recent Cup pedigree into the sort of pulsating fare that has the Match of the Day producers clearing the opening 10 minutes of Saturday night’s show was asking a lot.

So it proved with the 11,053 supporters, including a healthy contingent from South Yorkshire, who braved a cold Lancashire day hardly treated to a classic.

But, what these two former Cup winners did produce was an encounter that was in the balance right up to the very end.

“Burnley have some really good players but we stood up to it and battled well. It shows, on our day, that we can compete with a lot of teams.

Barnsley’s Ethan Pinnock

Had, for instance, Alex Mowatt’s 89th-minute free-kick curled just inside the post rather than missing the target by an inch or so then chances are the Reds would be looking forward to tonight’s fourth-round draw and not Burnley.

Instead, a clumsy challenge by Liam Lindsay just a minute after Mowatt’s 25-yard effort had gone so close handed Chris Wood a chance from the penalty spot that the Kiwi striker gratefully accepted by coolly sending Adam Davies the wrong way.

Defeat was harsh on Daniel Stendel’s Reds but defender Ethan Pinnock insists there were plenty of positives that can be taken into the quest to return to the Championship at the first attempt.

“We gave a good account of ourselves,” said the 25-year-old. “We felt we had done enough to get a replay. We did not look out of place, everyone was calm in possession so to concede right at the death was a big disappointment.

“Burnley have some really good players but we stood up to it and battled well. It shows, on our day, that we can compete with a lot of teams.”

Barnsley’s hopes of claiming a first top-flight scalp since Burnley were knocked out of the League Cup at Oakwell in 2009 may have been scuppered by a penalty.

But the abiding memory of this tie is likely to be the spot-kick that got away from the Clarets during the first half.

The Football Association announced ahead of the third round that VAR – or Video Assistant Referee, to give its proper title – would be in use at nine of the 32 ties being played over the weekend.

Only Premier League stadia are equipped with the technology, meaning Barnsley’s trip to Turf Moor made the cut.

Come the 20th minute, the Reds were mightily relieved to have done so after referee Simon Hooper’s initial decision to point to the spot following Dimi Cavare’s nudge on Matej Vydra was overturned.

An offside had been spotted, presumably against Vydra as Sam Vokes, standing a yard in front of the Czech striker, did not seem to be interfering with play.

Hooper’s relaying of VAR’s decision just as Vydra was about to start his run-up initially caused confusion.

But this soon gave way to 2,458 Yorkshire voices chanting their approval of VAR.

Not a lot else happened in the first half, other than Cam McGeehan having a ‘goal’ chalked off after straying offside just as Ben Williams was about to send over an inviting cross from the left flank.

This came on the stroke of half-time and meant Burnley came out after the restart with a few sharp words from manager Sean Dyche ringing in their ears.

Dwight McNeil, the youngster who had been so impressive for the Clarets in the win over Huddersfield Town three days earlier, should have put the hosts ahead almost immediately but he headed wide from a lovely cross from Charlie Taylor.

Vydra also had a decent chance from another pinpoint delivery, this time by Stephen Ward, but headed over.

That Burnley’s best hope seemed to lay down the flanks said everything about the commitment and discipline that the visitors had shown from the first whistle. Pinnock was superb at the heart of the defence.

Clear-cut chances for the League One side proved few and far between but a foul on McGeehan by Kevin Long finally brought Mowatt’s dead-ball skills into play.

His curled effort beat the wall and had goalkeeper Nick Pope throwing himself across the goal but the ball flashed just past the post.

A minute later, Lindsay had bundled Vydra to the ground and Burnley had a penalty that former Leeds United striker Wood coolly dispatched to settle a hard-fought, if far from classic, tie at Turf Moor.