Barnsley FC upset by Sheffield Wednesday in derby loss

WHEN life is practically perfect, the last thing that Barnsley needed was a visit from their near-neighbours.

Sheffield Wednesday players celebrate Jordan Rhodes's opener at Oakwell. Picture: PA.

Relegation-haunted Sheffield Wednesday may be firmly in the doldrums, but in recent times, Oakwell has been a fairly accommodating place with the Owls unbeaten in their six previous visits on their excursions up the A61.

They did not make the short trip with their usual travelling army of fans, but they were in receipt of a smart game plan, which worked a treat.

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Six unbeaten in Barnsley’s became seven as Darren Moore’s first victory in charge of Wednesday arrived at the fifth time of asking in a deserved 2-1 triumph and another Championship tale of the unexpected - certainly in terms of the recent formbook - was filed.

They might still have an inkling of survival hope. Just.

Wednesday came into the game on the back of an atrocious eight-match winless streak featuring seven losses and looked ripe for the taking by a fuelled up Barnsley side high on adrenalin, fitness, togetherness and spirit and victors in nine of their previous ten matches and unbeaten in 12.

Few would have backed the visitors, although seasoned Barnsley followers were perhaps mindful of their side’s recent record against the Owls.

Barnsley picked the worst possible time to turn in this display and despite a late flurry after substitute Carlton Morris pulled a goal back with a deflected strike, it was in vain. The international break is perhaps well timed.

It was Wednesday’s day and Jordan Rhodes’. His brace - either side of half-time - has provided a kiss of life in an ailing, painful season.

The omens did look good ahead of kick-off for the Owls following late omission of Keiren Westwood, who did not start after suffering a knock in the warm-up with Joe Wildsmith - who spent a spell on loan at Barnsley early in his career - stepping in with rookie Luke Jackson named as the substitute keeper on the bench.

Wildsmith looked a little hesitant in commanding his area from set-pieces, but there was nothing like an onslaught from Barnsley, who looked out of sorts by their high recent standards.

Daryl Dike, fresh from his two-goal haul in midweek, showed assertion, but the supporting cast was not up to scratch.

Fielding a 3-1-4-2 formation, with Joey Pelupessy screening the defence and Callum Paterson adding another physical presence in the middle, Wednesday grew into the game and showed they were up for the fight.

Their cause was helped by Rhodes’ clinical strike when he headed home from a cross from the impressive Barry Bannan, who won his battle with rival Mowatt.

It atoned for a big miss by his standards on 21 minutes when Brad Collins raced out of goal and failed to clear Julian Borner’s punt forward. But after rounding the Reds keeper, Rhodes put his effort wastefully wide.

At the other end, Barnsley’s best first half moment fell to a defender early on. Instead of the relatively prolific Michal Helik, it arrived at the feet of Michael Sollbauer who fired over with a big sight of goal after Dike flicked on Mowatt’s inswinging corner.

Barnsley had a goal ruled out for an infringement from another Mowatt corner, with Woodrow netting and had a half-shout for a penalty after Dike fell under pressure from Lees, but by and large, Wednesday’s defence did a sound job, even if Dike posed problems periodically.

Typically, Ismael did not mess about and sit on his hands and was proactive in his changes and made a triple change at the break in bringing on Morris, Aapo Halme and Toby Sibbick.

It was testament to the unhappiness of Ismael and a job well done from a tactical perspective from Wednesday.

The afternoon being more rewarding for the visitors and Rhodes early in the second half.

Callum Styles saw his pocket picked by the alert Liam Palmer, who supplied Josh Windass who surged clear before unselfishly teeing up Rhodes for a tap-in.

Windass spurned a chance to extend the Owls lead when he fired wide, while Dike saw his eoffrt saved by Wildsmith after being picked out by Morris.

Just when the game looked like petering out, the Reds grabbed a much-needed lifeline when Morris’s deflected shot flew past Wildsmith.

It was very much game in with the visitors starting to look tired for the first time in the game.

Energised by their goal, Barnsley pressed. It was a frantic finale, but victory was the Owls.

Barnsley: Collins, Sollbauer (Sibbick 45), Helik, Andersen, Brittain, R Palmer (Halme 45), Mowatt, Styles, Frieser (Morris 45), Woodrow (Chaplin 68), Dike. Substitutes unused: Walton, J Williams, Oduor, Adeboyejo.

Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood; Urhoghide, Lees, Börner; Pelupessy; Palmer, Paterson, Bannan, Reach; Rhodes, Windass (Green 84). Substitutes unused: Wildsmith, Brennan, Galvin, Penney, Hunt, Brown, K Harris, Kachunga

Referee: T Robinson (West Sussex).