Barnsley FC 2 Derby County 1: Victor Adeboyejo and Aaron Leya Iseka lift Reds off the canvas
It was only one win and not the most convincing ever but when you have waited for as long as they have for one, you take what you can get.
When Sam Baldock’s smart finish put Derby County 1-0 up at Oakwell, it sent the hosts to the bottom of the Championship.
It was not scintillating football that turned looming defeat into a 2-1 win, but Barnsley had tried playing well at Bristol City on Saturday, and that had not worked out either. Nothing really did under the unfortunate Markus Schopp.
So often, though, a change of coach – even a temporary one – can bring a change of fortune, and so it proved. It was the fourth added minute when Lee Buchanan headed against the Barnsley crossbar. Had Schopp been in the dugout it would surely have bounced down and into the net, rather than out.
It was a deserved win for the effort the hosts put into a low-quality encounter.
Victor Adeboyejo’s deflected equaliser was fortunate, but the previously non-scoring striker was rewarded for chancing his arm.
Aaron Leya Iseka, one of the summer signings Schopp saw so little of, is in the opposite vein when it comes to finding the net, and did so for the third game running.
For a long time it had not looked on the cards. For much of the first half it was all a bit same old under caretaker coach Joseph Laumann.
Barnsley had started positively but not taken their chances, then some poor defending had allowed Derby to take the lead. As things stood, the Reds were bottom of the Championship.
Then from nowhere, Adeboyejo thought he would have a shot. The odds were stacked against him, not only because of the tight angle but also because he had not scored a goal since December 15, 2020.
A deflection from Curtis Davies that beat goalkeeper Kelle Roos minutes before the break. From that point on, the world became a different place for downtrodden Barnsley.
With only a couple of days to rethink what Schopp had done, there was nothing radical about the way 38-year-old Laumann sent his team out. The 3-4-3 formation passed from Ismael to Schopp remained, although Josh Benson’s first start after injury brought a bit more technical ability to a midfield which already had the considerable quality of Claudio Gomes and allowed Jasper Moon to return to his normal position in defence.
Although the first save of the game was Brad Collins’s – fortunate his stop from Tom Lawrence did not present another chance to Colin Kazim-Richards – the early stages saw Barnsley on the front foot.
A ninth-minute Benson corner caused confusion, Michal Helik and Phil Jagielka both poking the ball goalwards, the former Sheffield United defender causing team-mate Roos to save.
When Ravel Morrison clipped Callum Styles just outside the D, Cauley Woodrow hammered the free-kick into the base of the wall.
Derby started to have a spell, Collins casually touching Morrison’s fierce shot behind.
A couple of minutes later Barnsley were feeble in dealing with a Craig Forsyth cross and Lawrence picked Baldock out for a smart finish.
That looked to have burst the home side’s balloon until Adeboyejo’s goal.
Quick thinking and Iseka made the most of it, Callum Brittain’s free-kick catching the Derby defence flat-footed and the Belgian finishing calmly six minutes into the second half.
“Don’t worry about a thing,” sang the Ponty End, suddenly filled with optimism.
Although Gomes, impressively pulling the strings in midfield, had a 71st-minute shot blocked, it was inevitable Barnsley would sink back as the Rams pushed for an equaliser, though there was no feeling of inevitability that it would come to anything. Only in the last, desperate minutes did Wayne Rooney’s side really threaten.
Lawrence’s shot was wayward but nearly touched in by a defender and Collins tipped over from Louie Sibley. Another well-struck Morrison shot hit the crowd in front of him.
Roos went forward for a corner in the fourth added minute and although he could not claim a part, Buchanan was able to head against the crossbar, and the ball was cleared off the line by Mads Andersem, another Schopp saw very little of. Things really had taken a turn for the better. At last.
Barnsley: Collins; Andersen, Helik, Moon; Brittain, Gomes (Palmer 79), Benson, Styles (J Williams 63); Adeboyejo (Cole 69), Woodrow, Iseka.Unused substitutes: Walton, Kitching, Oduor, Oulare.
Derby County: Roos; Byrne, Jagielka, Davies, Forsyth (Buchanan 46); Morrison, Bird, Lawrence, Knight; Baldock (Sibley 78), Kazim-Richards (Ebosele 63).Unused substitutes: Jozwiak, Stearman, Allsop, Aghatise.
Referee: K Friend (Leicestershire).