BARNSLEY may have found a ready-made replacement for the player head coach Daniel Stendel did not want to let go.
Jacob Brown scored his first Oakwell goal for the Reds after being given the spot vacated by Brad Potts, who the club sold to Preston North End for a Deepdale record £1.6m.
Though Barnsley are scouring the market for a replacement, Brown stepped into the right-flank role in style, scoring one goal and setting up the third to upset his Bantams supporting friends.
The 20-year-old has been employed as right-back, central striker and now flank player, but is not concerned where he plays as long as he gets a game.
In fact, it was only his impressive work in training in midweek that earned Brown a starting role, revealed Stendel.
Brown commented: “It was a big game and we knew that they were in good form coming into it. But so were we and we carried on the good run.
We played well as a team and the defence were quality again – they give us a lot of confidence going forwards as we know we can take risks.Jacob Brown
“I’m from Halifax and a few friends are Bradford fans so to get my first home goal in a Yorkshire derby is great and, hopefully, there are a few more to come. I’ll be messaging those friends later.”
Of his 28th-minute headed opener, Brown said: “It came to the back stick and me and Kieffer (Moore) were both there and, though I didn’t push him out of the way, he would not have been happy if I hadn’t scored.
“We played well as a team and the defence were quality again – they give us a lot of confidence going forwards as we know we can take risks.”
Of the opportunity to beome Potts’s permanent replacement, he continued: “I have been working hard all week and the gaffer gave me a chance.
“All the players want to play week-in, week-out so when we get the chance we need to work hard and take it. I don’t mind where I am playing, but I do feel more comfortable attacking. If I have to play right-back I will.”
Having played many of their promotion rivals in a run up to the end of the year, Barnsley face a series of games against clubs locked in a relegation battle though the Bantams went into the game with four wins from five games.
Brown added: “We have all the confidence we need, but we need to make sure we play our best in all the games.
“Promotion in my first season would be a dream come true. I could not wish for anything better, but it is going to take a lot of hard work.
“When you play the top teams you know you need to be on your game, but all the teams are good enough to beat anyone. No matter who we play we need to be on our game and get the three points.”
Those points and a league double over City were effectively sealed when Moore forced in the 38th-minute second goal from close range after delightful inter-play between Alex Mowatt and Mamadou Thiam.
It took until stoppage-time for Mowatt to despatch the third cooly inside the onrushing Richard O’Donnell’s left-hand post after being set up by Brown’s header across, but Barnsley had been the dominant force from the second quarter onwards.
Defeat sent Bradford – who had Adam Chicksen sent off late on as he appeared inadvertently to trip Brown as he burst through on goal – back into the relegation zone and gave a reality check to those who thought they could possibly mount a play-off surge.
The same old problem of defensive errors again cost them, claimed head coach David Hopkin, who exonerated his new loanee signing, Leeds United’s Paudie O’Connor, from blame, though he replaced him at the break.
Hopkin needed to stop Barnsley exploiting space down the flanks and abandoned his three-man central defensive formation to switch to 4-3-3.
It had marginal effect, especially up front where central duo Liam Lindsay and Ethan Pinnock kept a tight grip on Eoin Doyle and Jack Payne, who could yet be recalled by parent club Huddersfield Town.
“Every chance they had came through our mistakes,” said Hopkin. “The shape didn’t do any of this, changing the team didn’t do any of this – it’s basic errors. If you can’t defend your back post from a dinked cross or keep out a weak shot that’s nothing to do with formations or how you’re going to play.
“I just thought they nullified David Ball and Jack Payne and that stopped us playing.
“I decided to take young Paudie off at half-time. It was nothing against him because I thought he did well. I just wanted to go to four at the back and get George (Miller) on the park. He got through a couple of times and had to do better.
“I’m disappointed for the fans who turned up (3,562) and the players are disappointed. But it shows how far we’ve come that they turned up and thought we could get something.”
Experienced Paul Caddis agreed and said: “I’m honest enough to say that the better team won. I don’t know exactly why that was, but they had better lads all over the pitch.
“It pains me to say it, but where this football club is now our season is not defined on Barnsley away. Our bigger games are against the teams round about us. I’m just being realistic.”
Barnsley: Davies, Cavare, Pinnock, Lindsay, Williams; Brown, McGeehan, Mowatt, Thiam (Moncur 86); Moore (Adeboyejo 82), Woodrow (Bahre 70). Unused substitutes: Greatorex, Dougall, Hedges, Jackson.
Bradford City: O’Donnell, P O’Connor (Miller 46), A O’Connor, Knight-Percival; McGowan, Caddis (Akpan 70), O’Brien, Chicksen; Ball, Doyle, Payne (Wood 84). Unused substitutes: Wilson, Devine, Isherwood, Maltby.
Referee: J Simpson (Lancs).