Luca Connell shines as Barnsley FC keep up promotion pace with win at Port Vale

Barnsley kept themselves in the League One play-off places with a 3-1 win at Port Vale.

The first league meeting between the sides at Vale Park for seven years needed just 25 seconds to spring into life.

Irish youngster Luca Connell showcased his brimming talent as he opened his 2023 account in style with a stunning strike.

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Vale restored parity as Nathan Smith converted David Worrall’s deep cross at the back post in the 14th minute.

On target - Barnsley's Luca Connell (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)On target - Barnsley's Luca Connell (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
On target - Barnsley's Luca Connell (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

But Barnsley’s near 700-strong travelling contingent only had to wait seven minutes to see their side regain the lead.

Connell turned provider with his in-swinging free-kick as unmarked Liam Kitching, who opened the scoring in the reverse fixture, bagged his second goal in three games.

Adam Phillips handed the Tykes a two-goal cushion on the hour mark when his deflected strike beat Aidan Stone.

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The half-time substitute almost doubled his tally as his strike from the edge of the box forced Stone into a smart save.

Vale’s wait for a first win since New Year’s Day stretched to seven games, their longest winless run since March 2021.

Port Vale: Stone, Forrester, Smith, Donnelly, Worrall, Conlon (Politic 62), Ojo, Benning (Harrison 67), Garrity, Massey, Proctor (Taylor 62). Unused substitutes: Pett, Agyakwa, Stevens, Robinson.

Barnsley: Isted, Williams, Bobby Thomas, Andersen, Kitching, Cadden, Russell (Phillips 46), Connell, Kane, Norwood (Tedic 74), Cole (Shaw 73). Unused substitutes: Martin, Cotter, Searle, Larkeche.

Referee: S Barrott (West Yorkshire).