Barnsley's football may not be lovely against Stoke City but the outcome is as the Championship play-offs beckon

Ninety minutes of football did not provide a great deal to get excited about but Barnsley coach Valerien Ismael is all about outcomes, and the upshot at a subdued Oakwell was worthy of fanfare: the Reds are quietly marching on the Championship's play-off positions.

Beating Stoke City on a Wednesday night is a proper test of whether a second-tier team can dream of promotion. Barnsley won 2-0 and are knocking on the door of the top six.

The Reds may be more about substance these days, but it does no harm to have Styles too.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Callum Styles's goal took the early initiative and substitute Daryl Dike's first for the club wrapped things up, beautiful bookends to an otherwise dreary evening.

GOAL: Callum Styles puts Barnsley in frontGOAL: Callum Styles puts Barnsley in front
GOAL: Callum Styles puts Barnsley in front

They were rare flashy moments on an evening that was never really expected to produce them, given the approach of two direct, play-off chasing sides. All there really was to rival it came during the warm-up as Stoke chairman Peter Coates's helicopter noisily landed at Oakwell.

The rain was coming down then, but had relented to make the mild conditions the match was played in much more pleasant. It swirled around in the second half but, like the match itself, with no ferocity.

Ismael did his best to yell his side into life – “Come on!” “Quicker!” “Alex, close the gap!” “Stop the cross!” – but the game rarely lifted itself beyond moribund.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It was nine minutes old and yet to take any real shape when Styles grabbed it. The 20-year-old has been a revelation since midway through his first game in charge, coach Ismael decided to have a look at him at left wing-back.

A Callum Brittain corner came to nothing but the Potters were unable to properly get the ball away and Styles latched onto the loose ball to smash it expertly into the net.

Stoke generally had the better of the first half and were a threat when right-back Tommy Smith was on the ball but unlike Styles, they were unable to make it count. Danny Batth headed a good Smith cross off target and twice Jon Obi Mikel was free at the back of the penalty area to volley at corners where Barnsley were presumably expecting something a bit more... Stoke.

When former Red Jacob Brown beat the offside trap from Smith's pass, Josh Tymon ought to have hit the target.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Barnsley kept Angus Gunn on his toes with a couple of long-range efforts in quick succession from their central midfielders but he held Alex Mowatt's shot comfortably and got down low to Romal Palmer.

With the exception of an expert finish from an offside Domink Frieser, though, Barnsley's attacking threat quickly fizzled out.

The second half was quieter still, its most impressive moment until Dike's 90th-minute goal the way former Leeds United Jack Clarke hurdled the wall alongside the dugouts to avoid injury.

Introduced for the final half-hour, on-loan Orlando City striker Dike looked to have blown the chance for his first Barnsley goal when he failed to get a clean contact on a volley as he was challenged.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Twelve minutes later he latched onto a lovely passes threaded by fellow substitute Conor Chaplin and finished neatly.

Forget the football, look at the table. It shows Barnsley a point outside the play-offs or as Ismael would have it, two from safety.

Barnsley: Collins; Sibbick (Solbauer 85), Helik, Andersen; Brittain, Mowatt, Palmer (Halme 69), Styles; Frieser (Dike 61), Woodrow (Chaplin 85), Morris (Adeboyejo 61).

Unused substitutes: Walton, Williams, Kane, Oduor,.

Stoke City: Gunn; Smith (Cousins 74), Batth, Souttar, Norrington-Davies; Mikel, Thompson (Allen 49); Brown (Oakley-Boothe 83), Powell, Tymon (Clarke 74); Fletcher (Vokes 49).

Unused substitutes: Chester, Davies, Forrester, Norton.

Referee: D Bond (Lancashire).

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you'll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.