Barnsley FC's ruthless dismantling of Port Vale leaves ex-Sheffield United and Leeds United man Neill Collins impressed but unsurprised

Fresh starts have become par for the course at Oakwell.

Barnsley have started each of the last four campaigns with a new head coach and their latest season opener marked the ushering in of yet another new era, spearheaded by Neill Collins.

Although the baton has now been passed from Michael Duff to Collins, the drive on display in the 7-0 win over Port Vale was familiar.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Reds dismantled the Valiants in merciless fashion, finding the back of the net on seven occasions and keeping a clean sheet.

Neill Collins started his Barnsley tenure with a win. Image: George Wood/Getty ImagesNeill Collins started his Barnsley tenure with a win. Image: George Wood/Getty Images
Neill Collins started his Barnsley tenure with a win. Image: George Wood/Getty Images

Barnsley’s ruthless rout left their opponents shellshocked – but it did not come as a surprise to Collins.

When asked after the game if he had been surprised by his players, Collins answered: “No, not at all. Of course, I think they played, through the whole squad, I think they played fantastically well, so they all performed. I think when you get everyone in your team performing, they’re capable of that.

"The big thing for me is having the belief in themselves about how good they can be. We’re all guilty sometimes of limiting ourselves and what we can do. They know your effort and quality is not always rewarded with the seven goals but I think they showed the quality that I expect.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Barnsley took their time getting out of first gear, initially finding themselves pinned back by a Port Vale side full of energy in the opening exchanges.

However, once the Reds found their stride, their opponents crumbled.

The hosts took the lead against the run of play, when Devante Cole was found by debutant Corey O’Keeffe and steered home.

An own goal doubled the lead before the half-time whistle blew, which offered Port Vale respite before the floodgates opened after the break.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Cole had notched another two after just eight minutes of the second-half and goals from Liam Kitching and Jon Russell intensified the boos from Port Vale fans.

Andrew Dallas completed the rout deep into stoppage time, rounding off a near-perfect afternoon for Collins.

An injury blow in the first-half was what ensured the afternoon was only close to perfection. The Reds lost Corey O’Keeffe to injury on the 33-minute mark, shortly after his efforts had enabled Cole to open the scoring.

Speaking after the game, Collins admitted it was too early to determine how serious the injury is.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said: “[It’s] too early to say [how serious the injury is]. We knew he was carrying something slight. It’s not great, [it’s] a big loss because he’s come in and done very, very well.

"Again, himself and Jon Russell, they’ve only played 45 minutes last week so again, [it’s] so good to enjoy that result but not get carried away.”

Barnsley’s professionalism was on full display in the dying embers, as they remained compact defensively while continuing to pose an attacking threat.

Based on the first showing of a Collins-led Barnsley in a competitive fixture, it is difficult to envisage the Reds getting carried away at all this season.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Barnsley: Roberts, Williams, Lopata, Kitching (Shepherd 75), O’Keeffe (Cotter 33), Cadden; Russell (Chapman 75), Kane, Styles; Watters (Shaw 61), Cole (Dallas 75).

Unused substitutes: Killip, Winfield.

Port Vale: Ripley, Sang (Plant 64), Cass, Smith, Jones; Ojo, Garritty, Grant (Arblaster 71); Clark (Chislett 45), Harrison (Iacovitti 71), Massey (Thomas 56).

Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Wilson.

Referee: David Rock (Hertfordshire)