‘Crashing the party’ as Barnsley make their point at Oakwell

IN a week when the late, great Jack Charlton featured in a memorable TV documentary, his famous footballing mantra of ‘Put ‘Em Under Pressure’ came into focus at Oakwell.

Barnsley's Cauley Woodrow (left) and Reading's Liam Moore battle for the ball. Pictures: PA
Barnsley's Cauley Woodrow (left) and Reading's Liam Moore battle for the ball. Pictures: PA

A one-time resident of Barnsley, Charlton, who lived for a spell in Worsbrough and was a regular at the Red Lion pub, would have surely approved of the Reds’ playing ethos under another former centre-half in Valerien Ismael

Like Charlton’s successful Republic of Ireland team, it is based on pressurising opponents, being strong at set-plays and not messing around at the back – allied to a ferocious work ethic. And an ability to play in the right areas.

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There was direct talk of pressure heading into this meeting of two-play off candidates. If you listened to Ismael, it was firmly on the shoulders of Reading, whose manager Veljko Paunovic admitted that this game was his side’s biggest of the season.

Barnsley's Alex Mowatt scores from the penalty spot.

An indicator of that could be seen by observing both rival benches during a spicy game in which tempers flared, as can often be the way at this stage of seasons when the stakes are high.

It prompted Ismael to vent spleen in the direction of Reading’s Serbian manager Paunovic afterwards after accusing the Royals coaching staff of being ‘disrespectful’ in terms of some of the language they employed.

Clearly aggrieved, Ismael initially refused to shake hands with some members of the visiting contingent at the final whistle.

He said: “I can understand we are crashing the party for a lot of big teams who want to go in the play-offs. Normally, it is a surprise for everyone we are there.

“With the pressure on Reading, we felt their pressure, but do not be disrespectful. But it was unacceptable.

“They (some Reading staff members) spoke with us and the referee in another language and we did not understand all the time. I understood a little bit of the language and it was a disrespectful word and unacceptable. I never say something like that.They crossed the line.”

In terms of events on the pitch, the relief for Ismael was two-fold.

His side trailed at the break after a mistake at the back allowed Ovie Ejaria to ghost onto a raking long pass from Leeds-born midfielder Andy Rinomhota and steer the ball under Brad Collins.

Earlier, carelessness was not punished when an error from Mads Andersen allowed Yakou Meite a clear run on goal, only for the ball to hit a slight bobble before he ballooned his effort over.

Meite was also at the centre of another piece of crass home defending which should have produced a second goal for the visitors, but somehow didn’t.

It came after Callum Styles played a blind backpass to Collins without noticing Meite in the vicinity. After he challenged Collins, the ball was played to ex-Sheffield Wednesday striker Lucas Joao to oblige with the formalities of stroking the ball into the unguarded and empty net.

Incredibly, Joao fired wide of the gapping goal. Miss of the season? More like a contender for miss of the decade.

Barnsley breathed again as they had done not too long before on 61 minutes when the gift was this time provided by another familiar former figure on the South Yorkshire scene in Andy Yiadom.

The ex-Reds captain, brought back into the starting line-up, showed charity in the extreme in needlessly tugging back Styles.

Alex Mowatt, assuming penalty duties after the cautioned Cauley Woodrow was brought off at half-time, saw his effort squirm under the body of Rafael Cabral. It was his seventh goal of the season and most important.

It was an evening which was not straightforward for Barnsley, who produced some uncharacteristic defensive errors which were duly noted after by Ismael.

Creditably, Barnsley found a way to get back into the game –with Ismael again not procrastinating with his changes after bringing on Daryl Dike and Carlton Morris at the break, with Victor Adeboyejo, in his first start since February 17, and Woodrow getting nothing out of Reading’s backline.

Morris went close in a frenetic finale, while Andersen diverted the ball onto the post after Cabral coughed up Mowatt’s free-kick. Barnlsey also saw a goal ruled out for an infringement in a scramble following a corner with Dike and Andersen in close proximity.

It was more like it from the hosts on the resumption and in the event, a good point. With a little bit of help from Joao.

Barnsley: Collins; Sollbauer, Helik, Andersen; Brittain, Palmer (Halme 57), Mowatt, Styles; Frieser, Woodrow (Dike 45), Adeboyejo (Morris 45). Substitutes unused: Walton, J Williams, Chaplin, Sibbick, Oduor, Moon.

Reading: Cabral; Yiadom, Morrison (Holmes 42), Moore, Gibson, Rinomhota, Laurent; Meite, Olise (Semedo 84), Ejaria; Joao. Substitutes unused: Southwood, Esteves, Richards, Baldock, Aluko, Tetek, Puskas.

Referee: G Eltrincham (Tyne and Wear).

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